Horizontal Falls: Overnight Tour from Derby.

During our year’s adventure we decided we would do at least one scenic flight, but deciding where was a tough job. Mitchell Falls and the Bungle Bungles were top contenders, until we came across the Overnight Horizontal Falls trip. The experience was action packed and worth every cent. Our adventure started at 2.15pm, where we were picked up for our campsite and driven to the small airport in Derby. Here our pilot Emma was waiting of us, ready to do that final weight check and pack our small (5kg) overnight bags into the sea planes pontoons. As we boarded the flight, I found myself in the co-pilot seat and handed a set of headphones. We took off effortlessly and were soon soaring above Derby and heading out to Horizontal Falls.

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Our route out took us directly there passing over the huge mud flats and the King Sound. We had a pretty smooth flight on the 14 seat turbo prop jet seaplane. Emma and I chatted away putting the world to right.  As we decended we got our first glimpse of horizontal falls, then a breathtaking landing, banking suddenly and flying so low over the hills of the archipelago, then through the valley and onto the water in Talbot Bay. These pilots are so skilful and it was amazing landing on water to find ourselves in a remote paradise.

The plane pulled up next to the floating house boat platform, which was to be our home for the night. After being shown to our cabins, we headed up stairs onto the deck for our briefing. The house boat is stunning with a huge long table in the middle and refreshments on tap and incredible view’s. Everything works like clockwork here, its impressive to watch. There wasn’t much time for relaxing which is just what we were looking for. We headed straight out onto the 900hp speed boat and to the horizontal falls.

The small falls were flowing perfectly to allow us to zoom back and forth across them. It’s an exhilarating ride and fantastic to get up so close to the falls. The way the tides move also create beautiful patterns in the water. After the speedboat ride, we jumped in the shark tank with our snorkel masks on for the feeding session of the local Tawney Sharks and a couple of Bull sharks, there were also lots of huge angel  fish. The sharks were  beautiful and they had a couple who don’t normally visit the platform. They were much lighter in colour, with the sharks taking on the colourings of their environment.

After a quick shower, it was back on the boat, this time heading up Cyclone Creek to the mangroves. We spotted saltwater crocodiles and a few birds too. The rock formation’s are spectacular and it was great to explore a little more of the vast Buccanner Archipelago.  Its called Cyclone Creek as this is where boats shelter when a cyclone hits the area.

We were back on deck for nibbles of cheese, biscuits and dips as well as a glass of bubbles. Its BYO alcohol and we brought a couple of bottles for the three of us onboard, while soaking up the stunning surroundings. There was only our plane onboard at the end of the season, so it was really peaceful and lovely to chat to the other guys on our tour. Dinner was grilled barramundi, salads and a bread roll. The fish was cooked beautifully and desert was yummy too. They have fairy lights across the boat, creating a gorgeous evening atmosphere. IMG_5172It was so nice after camping, to head into an air-conditioned room with a nice double bed. After a great nights sleep we had breakfast on the deck. The breakfast of cereal, bacon and eggs was okay and set us up for a morning of more thrills. We jumped back onboard and this time shot through the larger falls, before heading up to the smaller of the two which was now flowing in the opposite direction with a much higher drop. The vortex of water was huge and impassable by boat. Our skipper hovered as close as he could to it, holding the boat at the edge of the massive body of water.

As we arrived back to the platform the day trip seaplanes arrived in and we watched them land before boarding ours for the trip home.

We took off and then did our low level flight over the waterfalls. First banking on the right hand-side and then the left, with dramatic views of the twin flowing waterfalls.

Our homeward trip was a scenic flight across the archipelago, seeing its thousands of islands, the barraumdi farm and then as we came into land in Derby the huge jetty.

We were back at the campsite around 9 o’clock grabbed a coffee and headed up to the Dampier peninsular to James Price Point for two nights of free camping on the beautiful red cliffs.

We feature a couple of videos from the Horizontal Falls trip in our Gibb Rivar Road highlights video below…  We also have 2 blogs covering the trip…

There is also a 24 hour tour from Derby and day tours from both Derby and Broome. During the busy season a helicopter ride can be taken over the falls for an additional $100 (3 person minimum) If you are in the area you must book this trip.

Check out the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures here.

Sarah x

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