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Lifestyle : Adventures in the Kimberley
P t d d CAP to oom ' t o t. P t d C l h off t m t o m t th t t th t , h t & lt of oom . x o l z d oom , m t o d d o l d t t . P m o lf t o wo ld l d , f t w d-w ' YA C f om th A o l D mt m . h l x t th t l o t d d l ool. & x t w th fo fo ht o mo d jo : All f om j t A D $2,198 o l THE SUN-HERALD 5 the kimberley special report Trip notes Cruising there Seven-day expeditions between Broome and Mitchell Falls, and the reverse, aboard the Kimberley Quest, take place on selected dates from April 26 to October 2, priced from $8345 a person, twin share. Air and helicopter transfers between Broome and the Mitchell Plateau are included in the price, along with all meals (the Kimberley Quest has a chef) and daily excursions from the vessel. 1300 156 035, kimberleyquest.com.au. More information australiasnorthwest.com. Human touch . . . (from far left) the Kimberley Quest; rock art; cooling off in a crocodile-free pool; catch of the day. Photos: Julie Miller Cover image: Lake Argyle near Kununurra. I have a taste of that during a late- afternoon excursion to a deserted beach devoid of footprints save for fresh crocodile slide marks up (and, fortunately, back down) a ridge of broken shells. Breaking off from the rest of the group, Willing and I wander through the underbrush, stumbling across a circle of stones shaped to resemble a barbecue pit. This, Willing says, is an Aboriginal ceremonial circle. The discovery of another site leaves me totally perplexed, pondering the ghosts of a more recent past. Deckhand Lance has spotted what appears to be a deserted shed dominating a clearing behind a forest of mangroves. Sarah and I decide to join him to explore. Pulling into the muddy bank, we disembark and walk tentatively in Lance's footprints, scouring the bank nervously for the ever-possible presence of crocs. A rusty Dodge truck, keys still in the ignition but with the battery removed, gives the eerie impression that we may not be alone but the shed itself is clearly abandoned, the back wall blown off by a cyclone during the last wet season. We potter through the corrugated remains, still relatively new and obviously a major undertaking -- but for what purpose? There is no road in; the truck and materials must have been brought by barge, at considerable expense and effort. If it's an indigenous fishing venture, it seems too remote to be profitable; there is also no obvious source of fresh water, making habitation a challenge. The ultimate ''what were they thinking?'' Kimberley moment still belongs to a young and beautiful American tourist, the fabulously monikered Ginger Faye Meadows, who, in March 1987 along with Aussie chef Jane Burchfield, made the fateful decision to swim to shore at King Cascades, a stunning tiered waterfall on the Prince Regent River. As both were strong swimmers, the 25-metre dash from their Zodiac to join other crew members in the upper falls must have seemed a no-brainer; but what they failed to consider was the presence of saltwater crocs -- marauding and ruthless. Pursued by a four-metre monster, the girls managed to make it onto a partly submerged rock ledge, only to have the beast lunge at them. In her panic, Meadows jumped back in the water, seemingly thinking she could outswim the croc back to the tender. As the horrified crew watched from the cliffs above, Meadows was seized by the hips and dragged under the water. Her armless torso was found the next day. King Cascades is one of the prettiest locations in the Kimberley. As one of the smaller vessels plying these waters, the Quest is able to anchor overnight at its base, so close that droplets sprinkle onto the deck like fairy tears. But the tragic tale of Meadows hangs like a pall -- a classic example of how disregard for the hostility of nature can leave a permanent blight on the landscape. After seven incredible days at sea, we disembark the Quest near Mitchell Falls by helicopter before returning to Broome by light plane, the aerial perspective being another important piece of the Kimberley puzzle. The writer was a guest of Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises and Australia's North West Tourism.