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Expedition Logs are a compendium of daily reports written by our expedition team, summarising the events during each expedition. They provide insight into the expedition, from the sailing conditions to the activities enjoyed at each destination. Each trip has its own unique elements; read an expedition log to find out more about the Coral Expeditions experience.
Cairns to Cairns onboard Coral Discoverer.
Darwin to Cairns on board Coral Discoverer.
Cruising from Auckland to Milford Sound on board Coral Discoverer.
Cruising from Darwin to Biak onboard Coral Adventurer. Expedition Leader Jamie Anderson.
Honiara to Port Vila on board Coral Discoverer.
Cairns to Madang on board Coral Adventurer. Expedition Leader Jamie Anderson.
Cruising from Singapore to Darwin. Expedition Leaders David Keech and Jamie Anderson kept us up-to-date with this daily trip report, and Photographer David Li captured these beautiful shots.
Cruising from Darwin to Broome onboard Coral Adventurer. Expedition Leader David Keech.
Coral Discoverer cruises the Tasmanian Coastline.
Coral Expeditions I scouts the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.
Coral Discoverer chases the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
In celebrating 35 years of pioneering history, we are digging up the archives! Stay tuned as we bring you a selection of stories from the past. Below are some expedition log excerpts from expedition team members throughout the years.
Immediately after a light breakfast, it was time to visit Montgomery Reef. On the Xplorer Tim provided the dimensions of the reef (over 400 km2), and how and when the reef is exposed by tidal movements. I added comments on the reef structure, its traditional Aboriginal use, its construction on top of mesa, and how the Aboriginal ‘tide riders’, of the Yawijibaya clan had used the currents to bring their rafts out to the reef islands and to their home base on High Cliffy Island.
During our visit to Montgomery Reef, most passengers took the opportunity to get a close look in the inflatable while the Xplorer cruised toward the end of the ‘river’ (an old canyon that penetrates the reef) looking for green turtles, sharks, birds and other points of interest.
— Sandy Scott, Guest Lecturer
During the morning we travelled to Nathan reef, starting water activities at 0800. Whilst here, we did two tours on the Glass Bottom Boat, two snorkel tours and offered a touch tank for guests to experience marine life up on the back deck. Guests seemed to really enjoy their morning. We packed up and while underway, guests settled in for lunch before I gave a presentation on the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef. We arrived at Dunk Island at 1500 and went for a walk through the rainforest and along the beach. Afterwards, we ferried guests over to Mound Island for afternoon tea which was enjoyed by all. Upon arrival back to the vessel, we had pre-dinner drinks upstairs where I briefed the guests on the following day’s activities. After dinner, we screened a documentary for our guests in the lounge.
— Bec Finlayson, Trip Director / Marine Biologist
After a very comfortable overnight ride from Davey Cay, we dropped anchor in front of a palm-fringed bay during breakfast. Outside was Forbes Island, a delightful little granitic continental island (i.e. not a coral cay) and it was here that Xplorer brought us to her palm-fringed coral sand beach. High granite peaks could be seen on this island & its surrounds. First, we investigated the ruins of Frederick Lancaster’s small camp as well as his last resting place. Old Fred had died at the age of 56 in 1912, having lived on the island for a number of years. We don’t know a lot about him but we do know that he had previously been active in the sandalwood trade. It is likely that he took up a beachcombing lifestyle when sandalwood became harder to find on the mainland. We discovered a few years back that Fred had been married to an Aboriginal from nearby Lochart River & she was one of the people who lived with him on the island.
A group led by Ian were able to push through the dense grass to find Fred’s house & well. We thought his efforts in digging it and lining it with stone were very meritorious. Up through the saddle, we went across to the island’s south side and were rewarded by spectacular views. Wind-pruned beach tea-trees and grevilleas indicated the consistency of the south-easterly winds here. Fresh crocodile tracks emphasised that we were now well into their territory. Back on the main beach we had time for a leisurely dawdle and a relaxing snorkel on the island’s fringing reef. Some chose to use the canoes. The reef here is a wonderful example of reef-building by thousands of coalescing massive corals that have grown to the surface. There was plenty to see in the way of colourful corals, clams and fishes including everyone’s friend Nemo, the clown fish. This was our last snorkel for the trip. From now on, we’ll leave the in-water activities to the crocodiles – common inhabitants of the waters we will cross for the rest of our trip.
— Ian Morris, Guest Lecturer
It was a great birding walk this morning, with 20 guests taking up the early rise and treated with a great viewing. There were lots of birds around and we had a great display from 3 Red Birds-of-Paradise! After breakfast, we took a cruise around Kabui Bay and looked at all the limestone karsts as we made our way through Wallace Passage. Lovely conditions and a great cruise enjoyed by all.
The afternoon saw snorkelling, diving, a kayaking tour, and glass bottom boat tours. The activities were aplenty, and even though the weather was wet, some of the guests commented that the snorkelling was the best so far. Mike gave a presentation in the lounge on ‘Marine Life of Raja Ampat’. We were set to have a BBQ this evening, however the weather did not look favourable and we opted for BBQ dinner inside the dining room instead of on the sundeck. Afterwards, we put a movie on for the guests that were interested in staying up a little later.
— Steve Cox, Expedition Leader
This is in the Morobe Province. The Xplorer gave us an easy afternoon landing amid calm seas and we were greeted by customary dancing and a sing sing performed to the beating rhythm of the drums. There was a welcome and presentation of gifts from Jamie. The children were let out of the primary school here, most of them speaking English comfortably. Again, as at all villages we have visited, there were tidy, nicely laid out paths that had been swept clean, with lots of fruit trees. Most the guests chose a canoe paddle up the creek. My canoe was short of a paddler so I took that spot. One woman said there were no crocodiles in the creek, but 14 year old Aaron said there was a big one further up. Who to believe? Aaron I think. Of course, there would be at least one croc living here. There is always a croc or two wherever you go along the PNG coast.
— Ben Cropp, Guest Lecturer
After a very comfortable chartered flight from Cairns into Alotau, with a swift and smooth transition through the airport, we were whisked away on several mini buses for a tour of the region. A relaxing lunch was enjoyed by all at Driftwood resort where we began to mingle with our fellow passengers. The cool breeze blowing through the verandah was a welcome change from the very humid hot day. After lunch, we were entertained by the first of many sing sings that we would encounter throughout our journey. The Alotau dance troop were impressive with their threatening warlike gestures, blackened skin, and colourful costumes.
We continued on our tour of Milne Bay, walking through markets stalls selling artefacts alongside the Australian War Memorial, a sweeping journey along the bay itself, and lastly taking in a spectacular view of the bay in front of a yam garden where we snuck our first peak of Coral Discoverer. We made it to the vessel at 3pm where we were promptly checked in and made comfortable in our cabins. After we set sail, we gathered on the aft deck to participate in a muster drill and met the crew and find out about some of the details of the cruise through Papua New Guinea. The first of many decadent meals that we would enjoy on board was served in the dining room.
— Ben Cropp, Guest Lecturer
It was idillic summer weather as we cruised through Dusky Sound to our anchorage in Cascade Cove. In the Xplorer, we retraced Cook’s footsteps and explored Pickersgill Harbour. We journeyed between Crayfish Island and the mainland, the same route Cook’s Resolution was towed through in March 1773. The jury remains out as to whether the existing rata log was the one used by Cook as a gangplank to the shore over 200 years ago…
The Coral Discoverer then journeyed back up Cook’s channel, live-dropping us into Sportsman’s Cove on Cooper Island. This was a delightful enclosed and sheltered bay, that enabled us to have fantastic close-up views of rata flowers, a black backed gull chick, large beech trees and to share stories of moose introduced into Fiordland as a gift from Theodore Roosevelt.
Departing from Cook’s Channel, we passed the Five Finger peninsula and turned south. The journey was initially bumpy, but eased as we sailed our way through Foveaux Strait to our next destination, Stewart Island or as the Maori know it as – Rakiura (land of the glowing skies).
— Jamie Anderson, Expedition Leader
There was an early start this morning, as the climb up to the Raft Point gallery is best done in the cool time of the day. Those that did the climb were rewarded by an extensive series of Wandjina figures depicting a legendary fish chase. For the non-climbers, there was a trip around Steep Island and Bird Rock where we spotted an Osprey’s nest with chicks. On the way back to the CE1, another croc was spotted on a mud flat. After a cuppa, Les gave a talk on Boab’s and reminded us not to call them bottle trees as this name belongs to another family of trees.
The afternoon saw us on shore at Freshwater Cove, where the local Aboriginal community greeted us on the beach with a face painting ceremony. Most of the party followed Wayne over to Cyclone Cave where he told us a legendary story explaining the art on the ceiling and walls of the cave. Back on the beach the community had built a large art workshop/gallery area where their paintings were available to purchase. We had a cup of tea and some biscuits, and listened to Robyn share stories which helped us to interpret the artwork. There was a smoking ceremony on our departure and we headed back to the CE1 for pre-dinner drinks, a recap of the day, dinner and finally a game of charades.
— Dave Smith, Expedition Leader