Day 33: 1 July – Boat, plane, bus then bike…back to Derby

Author: Mrs A

After a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs we again mounted our seats in the jet boat to visit the tides, this time turning the other way, rushing through the small gaps between the bays, shortly after sunrise. Such a stunning location, and one everyone visiting was sad to say farewell to. 

For the cost of $25,000 for 5 nights, you and 11 of your friends could stay out here and have a skipper at your beck and call – 5kg of luggage allowed and 30kg of alcohol….anybody keen for an interesting holiday next year…?

The still early morning waters made for some incredible reflections, which were soon ruffled as our skipper sped the jet boat through the race!7.30am we boarded our little sea plane and took off, taking a scenic route back to Derby airport, and returning to camp.

A truly spectacular area, and so interesting to see. Incredibly remote and not another soul to be seen. Up here it is mostly sharks, dugongs, crocodiles and fish – the islands are very rocky and sparse, holding little to no natural water sources of their own. We flew over a barramundi farm, and back into Derby.

We spent the afternoon making plans for the next leg of our trip, before heading down on our bikes to Derby Wharf for dinner and one of the top end’s famous sunsets over the water. 

Day 32: 30 June: Mudflats and horizontal waterfalls

Author: Mr A

Our day started with a dawn cycle across the mudflats that surround Derby. 

Big Bertha, as I call my big old fat bike, loved ploughing through the dried mud that stretched to the horizon. Quite an eerie landscape. 

The sun climbed up once again into a perfect blue sky, and the mud flats glistened. Miles and miles of nothing but caked mud out to the horizon. 

We were soon back and coking up a BBQ brunch as we had to get ready for our big trip out to…the “Horizontal Waterfalls”. Let me explain..Derby has the second highest tidal changes in the Southern Hemisphere, and we had booked a trip out by seaplane to see them up close. We were waiting to board and the pilot asked for a volunteer to be “co-pilot”. I piped up and was in the hot seat. 

We took off and climbed to 5,500 feet and flew out over some of the 1,000 islands that comprise the Bucaneer Archipelago. Between several of these islands there is a tidal race that is called the Horizontal Waterfall, as up to 5 metres of difference in height can exist between the two sides of the race. We flew over and saw the huge volumes of water pouring through the narrow gap. 

We landed on the water, (odd feeling – our first time in a sea plane)  – I kept well away from the controls, and within a few minutes we were transferred to a powerful speedboat and were racing off to the “falls”. This boat was amazing – it took us up to speeds of 120km an hour and tore across the water towards the gap. Wow what an adrelinin rush as we weaved our way through the maelstrom of water. Back and forwards though the gap we raced, bouncing around like a ….well….fly in a cyclone. 

As the sun started dipping it was time to head to our home for the night on this large houseboat. We were offered a swim in a shark tank. Catherine of course was straight in, well someone needed to man the camera and that was me.

The same sharks (Tawny Sharks) have been fed and handled for 10 years, seeming to enjoy the interaction, or more likely associating human noise with being fed chunks of barramundi!

Dinner on the top deck was freshly caught barramundi for us too, just delicious, and there we are in the middle of this huge wilderness of islands, staring up at the stars and feeling very privileged to be here.