Continued to the end of the Gibb River Road and entered Derby, a township of approx 4500 and the administrative centre and oldest town of the Kimberley. At first glance it appears to be a spit of land surrounded by mud flats, however it has the world’s second most extreme tidal changes ( Nova Scotia is #1) that can vary by as much as 11-12 metres. This was to be the third of our planned highlights, to experience this massive tidal shift at the Horizontal Falls. Catching a sea plane and landing at Talbot Bay we took several boat trips into the narrow gaps where the tidal surge is at its peak. The boat’s skipper had the engines running at 14 knots just to keep the craft static in the strait between the rocks.
On our return to the pontoons for lunch, we had the opportunity to swim adjacent to several 3 metre Tawny Nurse sharks, a 4 metre Bull shark and a handful of large Batfish which were fed beneath the boat.
After lunch and a couple more rides through the narrows, we headed into Cyclone Creek which is used as a refuge for boats during the cyclone season.
The flights to and from Talbot Bay and the Horizontal Falls were both spectacular and different. The flight there took us over the mud flats, but from the perspective of the aircraft, intricate designs were cast by the water and embroidered by vegetation. The return flight was at just 500 metres and the stunning turquoise water contrasted the sand, rock and mangroves.
Other unique sites we discovered in Derby were the Prison Boab, the Southern Hemisphere’s longest watering trough that could accommodate 500 bullocks. We visited the sad and disturbing site of the old Derby gaol, where indigenous prisoners were incarcerated in appalling conditions. Saw the beautiful sunsets from the Derby jetty.