Stretching approximately 630,000 hectares, the Prince Regent National Park is one of Australia’s most important conservation sites. The National Park status protects areas designated as being of ‘outstanding scenic grandeur’ and at the Prince Regent reserve, this is certainly the case. Those travellers lucky enough to visit this remote wilderness can witness the landscape shift from the rainforest, mountain ranges, cliffs and gorges to barren sandstone flats.
The Prince Regent National Park is under the traditional custodianship of the Uunguu people and within the park, you will also find examples of Aboriginal rock art as well as other sites of cultural significance.
The reserve, known as a biodiversity frontier, is estimated to home at least half of all the bird and animal species from the Kimberley region. (And yes, that includes the saltwater crocodile). In terms of flora, the park is thought to contain over 500 species of plants – something of a botanist’s paradise.
The Prince Regent River
The Prince Regent River, which flows through the park in a near-perfect straight line, runs for 106km. Careering along a fault line in an NW direction from the Caroline Range, the river swiftly courses past anything in its way which includes near horizontal 50m cliffs and a waterfall. All this before it discharges into the Saint George Basin and Hanover Bay.
Even during the ‘busy’ season you’ll see little human activity on the river. The occasional over tourist vessel, private yacht or even a licensed barramundi fishing boat.
Mount Trafalgar, named after Nelson’s naval victory of 1805, and its smaller neighbour, Mount Waterloo loom over the river. Reaching the summit is tricky and it’s such a long and treacherous trip to the top that the only way to get there is by helicopter.
King Cascade – a Kimberley Icon
The highlight of a visit to the Prince Regent River is to experience the spectacle that is King Cascade. Named after the Australian admiral Phillip Parker King (Lieutenant of Her Majesty’s Cutter Mermaid) who explored and mapped much of the north-west coast, most visitors adore the sight as water tumbles over a staircase of ledges into the crystal pool below. Framed by ferns and mangroves on each side, the cascade descends approximately 80m and is as wide as a football field.
Most cruise companies offer the opportunity to stand in the cascade and enjoy a beautiful freshwater shower, usually by pushing the bow against the rock to enable those willing participants at the front of the vessel to immerse themselves completely. There is a natural pool with swimming potential at the very top of the falls for those with good stamina and a sure foot to make the climb but, as inviting as the lower pool looks from your boat, do not be tempted to jump in for dip. Saltwater crocodiles also like it here, and anyone sharing the pool with them is in immense danger. In fact, back in 1987, a swimmer was killed by a ‘Salty’ in this spot. Always be ‘Crocwise’ in the Kimberley.
How to view King Cascade
No roads lead to the Prince Regent National Park which helps maintain its status as one of Australia’s most remote and beautiful locations. To access the park you will need to take either a chartered helicopter flight or, more realistically, a tender from an expedition cruise or perhaps even the expedition ship itself in some cases. Whichever way you choose, you’ll not be disappointed.
Talk to one of our team about how you can shower in one of the most beautiful falls in Australia.
Jenny Flower is an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and has completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. To book in a no obligation ‘discovery call’ about Kimberley cruising click here. If you are confused about all the different ships and itineraries in the Kimberley and just need some general information to start your research then download Jenny’s free guide to Kimberley cruising here.