The strong winds dropped in the night, it was still and quiet when predawn light woke us in the mouth of the Sale River. During breakfast we wondered what the day would bring, watching the clouds begin to break up, shafts of sunlight cheering our morning. It is difficult to think that we only have two more nights on board, and then not long until we are home again. Today is the winter solstice, shortest day of the year.
Greg motored slowly down the river, alerting us with a reminder “This the scenic part of the trip!” …. we anchored not far from the end and went by dingy to walk in a rainforest remnant.
We only had half an hour, because we came in on an 8 metre tide, and needed to get out quickly or we would be there for the day. This is another rare oasis in the dry Kimberley landscape, rich in ferns, vines, palms, flowers and birds.
In that short time the temperature rose, clouds were clearing, and our hopes of adventure increasing …. we stopped to photograph some rocks on the way back …. more secret business…. and back on board the washing was looking good!
Our afternoon goal was to visit 400kmsq Montgomery Reef as it appeared above the water. S remembered seeing Sir David Attenborough on the reef, expounding about the life it supports. Sure enough we arrived in good time, moments before the first signs of land, departures of green turtles, and arrivals of shore birds.
All of the white area above will soon be two metres above waterline. The other vessel is in a channel, not actually on the reef, which is a proposed marine national park. We watched in fascination as turtles bobbed and dived, birds foraged and flew, and other visitors zoomed around in their tinnies to enjoy the spectacle.
About six other boats were on the reef edge, so Greg was careful to stay legal, limiting us to four people per dinghy. We even carried life vests. Here are some passengers from the Lady M tootling along the reef edge …. see how the water is cascading off!
Water falling from the reef, draining from an internal lagoon, creates a very strong current as the tide falls. Boatmen obviously enjoy the challenge of holding a dinghy steady in the rushing flow.
My only turtle photos were distant heads … not worth showing you. They are quick and shy, no doubt totally disliking our invasion and worrying about ending up as turtle soup. The tide was already turning as we returned to the boat …. there is Kimberley Quest behind her.
A fairly short run took us to the Kingfisher and Melomys Islands, where we will spend the night on the boat. The rough and wet weather has meant no more nights ashore for us, but the deck of the Xplorer is a great place to camp.