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19 Nights | Departing Cairns 10 March 2021 (Boarding 9 March) | Arriving Broome 29 March 2021 | Onboard Coral Geographer
The vast northern coastline of Australia is our home. For three decades we have revelled in the vivid reef systems and tropical islands of the Coral Sea, absorbed the culture and traditions of the Torres Strait, marvelled at the remote expanse of Cape York, and discovered the waterfalls and wildlife of the Kimberley. So, it is fitting that we take the brand-new Coral Geographer on an extended exploration of this unique region of Australia.
Voyage northwards through the outer Great Barrier Reef passage to discover an underwater world of colourful coral gardens at Holmes Reef and Osprey Reef. Beachcomb on the picture postcard Restoration and Haggerstone Islands. Stand at the Tip of Australia on Cape York and make connections with the small indigenous communities of ancient Arnhem Land, before entering the Kimberley coast just in time for the majestic wet-season waterfalls. From here, sail wide and Northwest to the pristine marine sanctuaries of Ashmore Reef, and island-hop down the west coast, where we will encounter a multitude of rare bird species and marine life including turtles, rays, sharks, sea snakes, abundant fish species and perhaps the elusive dugong. Be amongst the very few to ever visit places such as Adele Island and Scott Reef. Your epic journey will conclude in the pearling outpost of Broome where you will experience the season’s first Staircase to the Moon event.
Hosted by Group General Manager Mark Fifield, your voyage will be guided by some of our most beloved Expedition Team members, including Jamie Anderson and Ian Morris, whose connections and knowledge of North Australia run deep.
Joining the expedition will be guest photographers Jürgen and Stella Freund, who will deliver specialist nature and landscape photography workshops and will prepare a commemorative expedition journal for all guests onboard.
Join us to experience this memorable voyage with less than 100 guests, and welcome Coral Geographer proudly to her home shores.
We are pleased to introduce our newest state-of-the-art expedition vessel Coral Geographer to our fleet. The sister ship to Coral Adventurer, she features stylish and comfortable Australian inspired interiors, smooth and sturdy blue water cruising capabilities, and our unique Xplorer tender platform with dual high speed tenders and a fleet of 6 zodiacs. With a
shallow draught and agile manoeuvrability, she is ideally suited to expedition cruising. As her name suggests, Coral Geographer is purpose built to explore the farthest reaches of the world. Inspired by explorers of old, her voyages will include long distance adventures to the small islands of the Indian Ocean, the vast arc of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. In expanding our fleet to include this intrepid ship, we look forward to taking you to explore even more of the world, with our intimate expedition atmosphere, personalised service and warm Australian hospitality. Join us as we welcome Coral Geographer!
|CORAL Geographer||TWIN SHARE PER PERSON||SOLE USE*|
|Bridge Deck Balcony Suite||$29,400||n/a|
|Explorer Deck Balcony||$21,600||$32,400|
Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST. *Limited sole use occupancy available.
We invite guests to participate in Coral Geographer’s official Christening Ceremony, followed by festive tropical feast and Welcome Gala before we set sail from Cairns.
After disembarking in Broome, join your fellow travellers in the evening to view the Staircase to the Moon phenomenon, followed by dinner together.
Many of the islands we will visit are Important Bird Areas. Our expedition team will lead birdwatching excursions.
The opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive over vivid coral gardens is a highlight of this expedition. We will explore some of Australia’s best dive sites. View our diving requirements here. Some of the dive locations on this voyage are only suited for experienced certified divers. Please register your interest in SCUBA diving with our friendly Reservations Team.
Discover the tricks of capturing birds in flight and respectful photography in nature reserves through onboard workshops and in-field activities with our guest photographers Jürgen & Stella Freund. Jürgen Freund is a natural history and conservation photographer. A senior fellow of the elite International League of Conservation Photographers, Jürgen has worked with the WWF for decades, and has won many of the world’s top nature photography awards. Stella Freund is a producer and documentary filmmaker with a long list of books and films to her credit, most recently The Coral Triangle. This milestone assignment for WWF saw Jürgen and Stella travel and photograph the Coral Triangle over 18 months.
Embark: Board Coral Geographer on 9th March. Depart from Cairns at 10:00am on 10 March 2021
Disembark: Arrive in Broome at 8:00am on 29 March 2021
Cairns > Sudbury Cay > Holmes Reef > Bougainville Reef > Osprey Reef > Restoration Island > Haggerstone Island > Ashmore Reef > Somerset & Pajinka (Cape York) > Yirrkala > Victoria Settlement> Koolama Bay & King George Falls > Klycosmis Falls > Ashmore Reef & Islands > Scott Reef > Adele Island > Lacepede Islands > Broome.
Arrive this afternoon for the Welcome Gala and official Christening Ceremony, with time to settle into your staterooms before the event. This is a exclusive opportunity to be part of Coral Geographer’s history!
Depart Cairns at 10:00am and voyage into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. As we sail towards our first reef stop, hear a lecture on the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and its marine life. This afternoon goes ashore at isolated Sudbury Cay, the centrepiece in one of the most beautiful reef systems close to Cairns. Sudbury Cay is a tiny sand island surrounded by the Coral Sea and hear we will enjoy an afternoon snorkel or Glass bottom boat tour. Introductory scuba skills sessions can be conducted in the shallow water for beginner divers or enjoy beachcombing and bird watching as you relax on the idyllic sand cay. Later, enjoy champagne and canapes as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Begin your day at Holmes Reef, one of the Coral Sea’s outer reefs and one of the top 100 dive sites in the world. Split into two sections, East and West, the reef has large lagoons with safe anchorages. It is known for its wall and pinnacle dives, which feature amazing coral and marine life in clear water. Popular sites are The Cathedral, Golden Wall, and The Abyss, where coral walls give way to deep water where pelagic fish, sharks, turtles, and eagle rays gather. Pinnacles tower, some rising from 35 metres, providing shelter to swarms of reef fish that flutter around the beautiful soft corals covering the reef. Dive locations at Holmes Reef are suitable for beginner to advanced divers, and snorkelling is possible should weather permit.
In the late afternoon, arrive at Bougainville Reef. This small outlying reef is known for its shipwrecks, the RN Atlas, which ran aground in 1945, and the MV Antonia Tarabocchia, wrecked here in 1961. Here we will view the shipwrecks and enjoy a sunset over the remote Coral Sea.
Another feature on the list of world’s best dive sites, Osprey Reef is a submerged atoll in the Coral Sea. The top of a mountain which rises from the seafloor, surrounded by a vast ocean, it draws many beautiful and rare marine creatures to its plummeting walls. A truly wild and remote location, the vibrant corals and crystal-clear waters make it an unforgettable place to discover. Here we will spend time in the water exploring the 30m deep lagoon and drift diving the walls, where you may see large pelagic fish, rays, and sharks drawn in from the surrounding deep blue to enjoy the richness of this ocean oasis. With visibility from 30 to 60 metres, diving here is an extraordinary exploration into another world. There will be opportunity to discover underwater photography with our guest lecturers, as a vibrant and lively world unfolds before your camera lens. Diving here is recommended for more experienced divers.
The home of ‘millionnaire castaway’ David Glasheen, Restoration Island has a rich history. The traditional owners, the Kuuku Ya’u people, have used this island for many centuries, giving it the name Ma’alpiku. Captain Bligh and 17 of his men landed here after the infamous Bounty mutineers set them adrift in an open boat. Captain Bligh named the island after they found themselves ‘restored’ by a meal of oysters and fresh fruit gathered on the island. Here we will meet Mr Dave Glasheen, and with his permission, take a stroll along the beautiful white beaches of the island. Hear interpretation on the flora and fauna of the island and listen to stories of the history of this remote place.
Haggerstone Island is the location of a privately owned island resort, built by Roy and Anna Turner since they arrived at the island in 1985. This beautiful island is surrounded by a turquoise lagoon teeming with fish and fringed by magnificent coral gardens. The forested interior shelters a diverse population of bird species. During our visit, the resort is closed to visitors, and we will have the opportunity to meet the custodians of the island, explore the orchid garden, and experience the natural beauty that surrounds us on every side.
Ashmore Reef is in the northern Coral Sea, close to the islands of the Torres Strait. The reef is believed to be responsible for over 35 shipwrecks from 1817 to 1923, as its isolated location was rarely visited and therefore remained largely un-surveyed. In recent years, surveying work undertaken by the Royal Australian Navy has discovered 19th century shipwrecks in the waters surrounding this unusual reef.
Here the diving and snorkelling reveals consistently excellent visibility. There is a marvellous variety of marine life to spot and several large bommies to explore – you may discover throngs of reef fish, a rich collection of invertebrates, and sea snakes. This reef is rarely visited and provides a true expedition bucket-list experience.
Visit the historic ruined homestead site of Somerset, where the first administrative centre for Cape York was set up in 1876. The first, and for a long time, the only European settlement on Cape York, it was intended as a refuge for passing ships and was associated with the Torres Strait Pearling industry. Here we will learn the history of the early settlers here, both their daring actions and the darker legacy they left with the Indigenous peoples of this region. Visit the Heritage Registered Somerset Grave Site.
In the afternoon, go ashore at the very tip of Cape York. This rocky promontory, fringed by islands, has an unexpected beauty in the afternoon light. Standing atop the rocks at Pajinka, as it is known by the first people of the area, is a rite of passage for many Australians. Here we will enjoy sunset champagne before returning to Coral Geographer for a delicious evening meal.
The 560km wide Gulf of Carpentaria is a large shallow sea. A large lake was located here during the last ice age 18,000 years ago, but as sea levels rose, the lake was subsumed into the ocean waters of the Arafura Sea. As we cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, enjoy presentations on natural history by our guest lecturers or a photography workshop by our onboard photographers. You may spot birds or flying fish as you relax on the deck.
Located on ancestral lands belonging to the Rirratjiŋu/Gumatj clans, Yirrkala has been home to a Yolŋu community throughout recorded history. The Yirrkala mission was founded in 1935 by missionary Wilber Chaseling at the invitation of Mawalan Marika. Since that time, the art traditions of Yirrkala have emerged as a profound voice for Indigenous culture and art.
We will the spectacular Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre which Yolŋu artists from around the region. Established in 1976 as an act of self-determination, the art centre has forged a vibrant path for Yolŋu contemporary art. The museum built in 1988 houses a collection of works detailing historical artefacts and important moments, including the Message Sticks from 1935 and the Yirrkala Church Panels from 1963. We may also have the privilege of listening to a performance on the yidaki, the didgeridoo, which originates from this region.
Enjoy a day at sea as we traverse the Wessel Islands and steam towards the Cobourg Peninsula.
Cobourg Peninsula is part of the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, which is known for its pristine wilderness, marine life, and complex cultural history. Today, it is virtually uninhabited, with 20-30 people living on scattered homesteads. However, in the 1830s the British government wished to establish a trading settlement on Australia’s northern coastline. They made several attempts in the area, at Port Essington, Melville Island, and Raffles Bay. These settlements were abandoned by 1849 due to scurvy, tropical diseases, and lack of supplies.
We will explore the ruins of Fort Victoria and hear the stories of the failed settlement in this harsh landscape. Take a walk with the local ranger to spot native bush tukka plants, butterflies, and insects. The wet season will have left flowers blooming, and on a beach walk you may spot monitor lizards, crocodiles or sharks close to the water’s edge.
At Black Point, visit the lush billabong for birdwatching and the Black Point Culture Centre for more insights on the history of the region.
As we cross the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf towards the Kimberley, experience onboard photography workshops and cooking demonstrations, or look out for marine life and birds around the ship.
We arrive at Koolama Bay, where the impressive King George River is flooded by tidal waters. A cruise up the river gorge reveals steep-sided sandstone walls, eroded into honeycomb patterns, and inhabited by osprey and rock wallabies. King George Falls, swollen by seasonal rains, will present an awesome sight as it plunges 80 metres into the river below. Approach the thundering spray by zodiac and Xplorer and get close enough to gaze up the twin falls in wonder. The raw force of the raging wet season river is guaranteed to make you feel small. This remarkable river is of high cultural significance to the Balanggarra people, for who the falls are male and female rainbow serpents (Wunkurr).
Enjoy a day at sea as we cruise towards far-flung Ashmore Reef. Relax on deck, enjoy photo recaps of your cruise, and hear from our marine biologists of what discoveries await at the uninhabited Ashmore and Cartier Islands.
The uninhabited external territory of Ashmore and Cartier islands is made up of four low tropical islands in two separate reef systems. On the edge of the continental shelf, the islands are almost closer to Indonesia than to Australia and comprise several remarkable marine habitats, such as intertidal sand flats, seagrass meadows, and lagoons.
Ashmore Reef is a remote destination with restricted access. This makes it an incredibly special stop on our voyage. The marine environment here is incredibly rich, with our snorkelling and diving expedition revealing vibrant populations of dugong, sea snakes, multiple species of turtles, along with complex coral reefs with extraordinary diversity.
Cruising around the islands and through the lagoon aboard the zodiacs, it is possible to spot turtles, rays, colourful reef fish, and occasionally dugong enjoying the shallow, clear waters. The islands are brimming with large numbers of birds. We will visit after the rainy season, so the islands will be covered with greenery and the bird colonies will be breeding and nesting. Look for Common, Black, and Lesser Noddys, multiple species of Booby, Frigate-birds, and Terns, with the potential to spot White and Red-tailed Tropicbirds also.
Our two days spent at Ashmore Reef will be an incredible privilege and opportunity to reset and be fully present in one of the most remote locations on this voyage. Surrounded by nature, you will learn from our expedition team all about this remarkable habitat. Watch the sun setting over the ocean tonight as we share stories of the natural wonders we have seen.
Steaming south, we encounter Scott Reef. 300kms off the coast of the Kimberley, Scott Reef is made up of 4 separate reef structures, with Sandy Islet being the only speck of dry land. This vast reef system has been treacherous to shipping in the past, and we will visit the wreck of the Yarra at low tide. This iron barque was driven onto the reef during a cyclone in 1884, with surprisingly no casualties.
Scott Reef has sustained damage from extensive coral bleaching and cyclonic impacts, particularly in recent years, and we will learn about the challenges and concerns facing this reef system. Go on a snorkelling or diving expedition to the sheer outer walls of the reef – the dramatic formations will take your breath away. In these remote waters, you may also spot species of dolphins, whales, and sea birds, so be sure to keep your eyes open.
Located 150km off Cape Leveque, Adele Island is an A Class reserve and Important Bird Area due to the volume of birdlife that breeds and winters here. The species list is generously long, including Wilson’s Storm Petrels, White-winged Black Terns, Red-footed Boobies, Cormorants and Pelicans.
The shallow turquoise waters surrounding the island are also home to a multitude of fish, sharks, turtles, and stingrays which flock to the pristine coral reef system surrounding the island.
Here, enjoy photography expeditions to capture the remarkably pristine and lively natural habitat. If the tides allow, enjoy beachcombing and walking.
The Lacepede Islands are our final stop and provide another opportunity to discover the unique and vibrant habitats of these remote island groups. The low spits of coarse sand and coral rubble which make up the island do not support any trees, but the low scrubby vegetation provides sufficient cover for thousands of nesting birds.
Like Adele Island, the Lacepedes are an Important Bird Area and Class A Reserve. Here, the breeding colony of Brown Boobies, up to 18,000 pairs, is possibly the largest in the world. They are also Western Australia’s most important breeding habitat for green sea turtles, which can be spotted popping up for air throughout the lagoon. Enjoy more photography expeditions, birdwatching, and the change to observe wildlife in its most natural habitat.
This evening reflect on your astounding journey through remote islands and atolls at the Captain’s Farewell Drinks. Watch a remarkable Western Australian sunset over the Indian Ocean as you conclude your cruise.
This morning arrive in Broome at 7:30am for an 8:00am disembarkation. Enjoy a day exploring Broome, including the famous Cable Beach, before our evening Farewell Dinner and viewing of the Staircase to the Moon over Roebuck Bay. This breathtaking natural phenomenon is the perfect goodbye to a remarkable journey and the first voyage of Coral Geographer.
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition, we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. The itinerary includes the possibility of interaction with wild animals and this interaction is subject to the presence of this wildlife on the day.
|Departure||Departure||Arrival||Arrival||Cost Per Person||Cost PP||Ship||Availability|
|10 March 2021||10 Mar 2021||29 March 2021||29 Mar 2021||$14,200 to $29,400||$14,200 to $29,400||Coral Geographer||Filling Fast||Book|
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