Orion Expedition Cruises

Description

Orion is a purpose-built vessel designed to access some of the Kimberley’s most carefully guarded secrets in five-star luxury.
Orion’s Expedition Team will lead you to secluded beaches and river inlets, waters that are famous for their abundance of wildlife, spectacular waterfalls and awe-inspiring gorges, not to mention a wealth of indigenous rock art.
Enjoy cruising at its finest in the epitome of elegance, surrounded by Orion’s fine-quality furnishings and recreational facilities that are nothing short of five-star. Facilities include gymnasium, hair and beauty salon, Jacuzzi, Leda Lounge and Cocktail Bar, library, marina platforms, outdoor café, outdoor bar, sporting facilities, sun deck and Vega Health Spa.
You will be sharing your adventure with as few as 50 couples, looked after by some 75 crew members. Enjoy signature menus at Orion’s restaurant, inspired by local culinary traditions and featuring produce of the region.
Orion’s 10-night Kimberley Expeditions undertake an in-depth exploration of the remote coastline, travelling from Darwin to Broome or vice versa. There are three itineraries to choose from throughout the season.

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Sample Cruise

Day 1 – Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is Australia’s closest city to the equator and the gateway to the Top End. Discover the harbour foreshore area aboard an old pearl lugger, or take a thrilling flight in a seaplane or a gentle hovercraft trip. Spend a day out fishing for barramundi, jewfish, golden snapper and threadfin salmon, or go scuba diving around shipwrecks.
At sunset, savour a taste of Asia’s night markets at Mindil Beach, where you can browse the food stalls for a picnic dinner on the beach.

Day 2 – Jaco Island
The Federal Government’s recently amended regulations require Orion to operate internationally. On arrival at Jaco Island, Orion will clear Customs and Immigration, giving you an opportunity to go ashore, and then immediately depart for the next Australian port.

Day 3 at Sea

Day 4 – Wyndham (for Bungle Bungles)
Wyndham is the northernmost town in Western Australia and gateway to the East Kimberley.
You’ll take an exhilarating flight over the Diversion Dam Wall and the Ord River/Packsaddle Irrigation Areas, showcasing the fertile Ord River Valley farming. You will then follow Lake Kununurra and the Carr Boyd Ranges down to Lake Argyle, flying over Lake Argyle Spillway, Argyle Downs Homestead, Ord River Dam Wall and Lake Argyle Tourist Village. Follow the expanse of Lake Argyle down to the cattle country over flying Lissadell and Texas Downs and on to the ancient Bungle Bungle Ranges and Purnululu National Park (approximately 20 minutes); fly past Argyle Diamond Mine and the Ragged Ranges with a panoramic view of Ivanhoe Irrigation Area on your return. Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes approximately

Day 5 – King George River and Falls
Today, Orion will drop anchor in Koolama Bay. The 12km journey up the King George River reveals some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and a wealth of bird species. The almost vertical sheer canyon walls have been eroded over millions of years and look like stacks of sandstone reminiscent of a child’s building blocks. The King George River drains the Gardner Plateau and the falls are the highest single-drop falls in the Kimberley (100m or 330ft). Whether you experience the mighty thundering of the falls early in the season, or have the chance to take a closer look later in the year, you’ll be in awe of the sight. The Zodiacs will take you up the stunning sandstone canyon that culminates in the twin drops of King George Falls and convey guests back again to Orion.
Guests looking for a bit more adventure will be able to take a walk to the top of the falls and have the opportunity to enjoy a swim.

Day 6 – Vansittart Bay
After arrival in Vansittart Bay you’ll go ashore via Zodiac to a beach landing on Jar Island. There, the Expedition Team will take you on a short walk, past some fascinating rock formations to the site of the Gwion Gwion art gallery. The walk to the art site over uneven ground is relatively easy with only one small rock ledge to negotiate, however the access to the majority of the art is a little difficult and includes scrambling over large boulders and crawling under rock overhangs. The reward is a stunning gallery of this ancient and mystical art form.

Day 7 – Hunter River (for Mitchell Falls) and Raft Point
Arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast, Prince Frederick Harbour and the Hunter River are lined with green rainforest, mangroves and soaring red cliffs. Cliffs at the river mouth are some 200 metres high and, to the north, Mt Anderson rises to an impressive 480 metres. Today you will visit Naturalist Island, the proper name of which is Wunumpurramarra, on the northern side of the harbour. From this location, you’ll venture into the mangrove environment of the Hunter River and explore the area keeping a constant lookout for wildlife. This region has many crocodiles and you may be lucky enough to see them. After landing ashore at Raft Point, you can climb up to a saddle of rock that forms nothing short of a spectacular outdoor Aboriginal art gallery. There are images of the Wandjina spirits with their distinctive haloes and dugong, crocodiles, fish and snakes.
If you prefer to explore some of the Kimberley’s vast interior, the famous Mitchell Falls and Plateau is about 50km and you’ll fly over some spectacular terrain,

Day 9 – Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls
Today you will witness the tidal phenomena of the Horizontal Waterfalls. You will also have the opportunity to view the stunning sandstone canyons of the nearby gorges. The Horizontal Waterfalls in the Buccaneer Archipelago are a product of the huge tides in the region, and the effect is created by the rapid tidal fall on the ocean-side of gaps in the cliffs. Later in the day, join expedition team members on an excursion to Cyclone Bay where the tortured geological folds of what was once seabed will be explained.

Day 10 – Cape Leveque
Cape Leveque is situated 220km north of Broome on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. During your visit, you’ll enjoy swimming in beautiful rock pools with clear water and abundant tropical fish. You may choose to experience a guided beach walk with a member of the Lombadina community, go fishing, or just sit back and relax.

Day 11 – Broome, Western Australia
End your journey in the charismatic town of Broome which has a colourful history and a unique, cosmopolitan feel stemming from its early pearling days. You can visit the Paspaley Pearls Boutique to sip champagne at an exclusive private viewing, or take a walk along the white beaches and impossibly-blue ocean. Spend some time uncovering the town’s history at the Broome Historical Society Museum or reflect on the dangers of the early days of diving at the Japanese Shinto Cemetery, final resting-place for over 900 pearl divers. Try your hand at landing a big one from the deep water jetty and if you enjoy bushwalking, the Minyirr Park has a number of self-guided trails.

For some legs of this itinerary there are some optional expeditions at an extra cost: please ask your Travel Designer for details on these options.

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2011 Departures Dates

Kimberley Expedition (10 nights)As detailed above
25 April – 05 May
05 May – 15 May
15 May – 25 May
25 May – 04 June
04 June – 14 June
14 June – 24 June
24 June – 04 July
04 July – 14 July
25 July – 04 August
04 August – 14 August
14 August – 24 August
24 August – 03 September

Kimberley Highlights (10 nights)Please ask your Travel Designer for a detailed itinerary
03 September – 13 September

Art of Arnhem Land (8 nights)Please ask your Travel Designer for a detailed itinerary
13 September – 21 September

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