THERE were no cars, no lorries, no roads and few people – just mile upon mile of natural, unspoilt countryside.

The Kimberley region in north-west Australia is largely unchanged since volcanic eruptions created the stunning sandstone rock formations thousands of years ago.

Even today, the only way to admire the wonderful scenery is by ship, boat or helicopter.

The invitation to join the 11-day cruise aboard the Caledonian Sky came from my brother Colin, who has lived in Australia for 40 years.

It was one of the items of his ‘bucket list’, and so it was that we set sail from Darwin in the north to Broome on the west coast via the Timor Sea and Indian Ocean.

As we moved slowly down the coast, we visited many places of interest, including the 90ft waterfalls on the King George River, named after King George V. In the wet season water cascades over the top, creating a spectacular scene, and the waterfalls have to be admired from afar.

But our visit coincided with the dry season, so no water was running and we were able to get close to the steep drops.

Another unforgettable sight was the extensive Montgomery Reef which rises out of the ocean as the tide drops and water pours in hundreds of channels into the sea.

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At two locations, we admired paintings on rocks, the work of ancient tribes, and there were also visits to an American aircraft which crashed in the Second World War and a tree inscribed by the crew of a ship which landed on one of the islands after being damaged in 1820.

For an extra fee, passengers could enjoy the beautiful scenery from a helicopter.

Few on board would have forgotten the trip we enjoyed in a speedboat as it dashed through narrow gaps between the towering cliffs. In the rivers and seas, there was a wide range of wildlife to admire, including whales, sharks, turtles and dolphins, as well as many species of birds.

This was my first cruise and I had been warned by friends to expect thousands of passengers on board. In fact, the Caledonian Sky is a small ship compared with others and had a high ratio of crew to passengers – 96 of them and 104 of us – meaning we all received personal attention.

However, you need to be reasonably fit and healthy to enjoy the cruise to the full.

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Transport from ship to shore and back is by Zodiac, a fleet of fast, motorised open-top rubber dinghies with passengers in lifejackets perched on the sides, close to the open sea.

To get on and off them, you have to swing your legs round – and be prepared to get your feet wet!There are also two challenging climbs on rocky ground, although the less agile can opt out of them.

The crew were highly professional and obliging, from those who controlled the ship and the dinghies to the catering, domestic and entertainment teams.

But you do have to watch how much you eat. Three meals a day, with a huge choice at all of them, is bound to increase the waist by a couple of inches, or even more, unless you are careful.

My next visit to Australasia? Brother Colin is suggesting a trip to Tasmania in 2021. We’ll see!

  • The Kimberley cruise is organised by Australian Pacific Touring (APT).
  • Details of this and other cruises are available from its offices at Amersham, Buckinghamshire - call 0800 012 6686 or email
  • More on visiting Australia from
  • More on the Northern Territories from