October 27, 2008
We woke to a sunrise right behind us and once again sighted Australia to the left, Cape Bernier to be precise, after a day without sighting any land.
As we made our way towards King George River, we passed through the a series of “sand waves” as the tide whipped up sand up to the surface. We rounded the corner and approached the entrance to King George River. The initial plan was to have a look at the sand bar as it was nearly low tide (0.6m – lowtide was 0.5m) and then come back later when the tide was higher. So with Royce on the wheel and Steve going up the mast steps and perching himself on the spar, acting we edged our way forward. The depth quickly dropped to under two metres as we navigated through with breaking waves on either side. We kept creeping forward with the depth under the keels never dropping below 1m. We were through and into the river proper. We motored 3nm up the river in about 5m of water and stopped when we got to branch in the river. We tried our luck getting over the sandbars that block the entrance to this arm but ever the shallow 1.15m draught of Camelot couldn’t help us get across. So it was into the dingy and off to the falls at the top this branch. We had some nervous moments as the tide was now at its lowest and even the dingy was hitting the bottom at times as we edged our way past mangroves which had our imaginations running wind. We finally made it to the end where there was a waterfall that looked very spectacular, even though it was dry. Sitting beside the waterfall was a rope climb, straight up. We tied the dingy up to the rope and one by one we all managed to get to the first ledge. At this stage, we had a pool of rampaging man eating crocodiles to the bottom of us and a near vertical climb above us. “I want to go home!!!” Eventually we did all make it to the top of the climb and our reward was a wonderful swim in a freshwater pool at the bottom of another (dry) waterfall. Royce pulled out a bottle of red wine and some glasses and we enjoyed a leisurely swim and a wine. Everyone was a bit nervous about climbing down the rope and making the dingy ride back past the crocodile infested mangroves but it turned out to be a lot less stressful that we anticipated and we were soon back at the boat and having some lunch as we made our way through the stunning sandstone gorge that frames the King Gorge River for over 6nm. We stopped half way down and hopped in the dingy once again for a trip across to an interesting gorge that is normally chock full of bats. No such luck with either the bats or the swimming hole at the end, which had dropped and turned stagnant. Back on the boat, we made our way to the end of the river, where we amazed to find two waterfalls each 100m high. We went right up to each, with 60m of water under the keels. We were so close we could have nearly touched the sheer sandstone wall. We lost contact with the GPS satellites, so close were we to the overhanging walls.
We came back from the waterfalls and anchored in about 9m. Another dingy ride saw us at the start of a climb to the top of the gorge, where we were about to take some stunning shots of Camelot sitting way below. At the top of the climb we made our way to the river beds that supply the waterfalls. One of these was completely dry, the second still had a bit of water in it. Mental note made to come here in July/August to see a lot more water.
Back at the boat we set about cooking up from frozen mackerel that had been caught across the top and taking out the torches to see if we could spot any crocs. What a day that was.