French luxury cruise line Ponant will undertake its first series of voyages to Australia’s Kimberley region in 2017 aboard expedition ship L’Austral.
Photographer and adventurer Mick Fogg will lead an expedition team of 12 on the four 10-night voyages between Darwin and Broome which will take place between the months of July and September.
“I am very excited about revisiting an old destination, in fact a very old destination,” Fogg said. “Returning with Ponant for the first time has allowed us to take a fresh look and include some fascinating, lesser known destinations, which provide these Kimberley voyages with added layers of interest.”
Passengers aboard the vessel, the newest in Ponant’s four-strong fleet, will benefit from technological features such as 3D sonar for seabed vision, a dynamic positioning system to avoid dropping anchor in sensitive maritime environments, and electric propulsion for reduced emissions.
Fogg highlighted the region’s appeal, from its dramatic landscapes to its numerous examples of Indigenous rock art, as well as its population of saltwater crocodiles.
“An additional spectacle, our voyages coincide with prime time for observing the largest population of migrating Humpback whales in the world – estimated to be 36,000 individuals or more – and with a compact ship and 14 Zodiacs this is potentially another exciting experience,” he said.
Highlights of the itineraries include classic must-see sights such as the Hunter River, King George Falls, Mitchell Falls, Montgomery Reef and Horizontal Falls, as well as a number of rarely visited other destinations. Dependent on tides and weather conditions, a visit to Langii and Freshwater Cove to spend a day in the spiritual home of the Wandjina people in the company of Kimberley elder and artist Donny Wollagoodja.
“Visiting these mystical places is enhanced when in the company of the indigenous caretakers,” Fogg said. “Hearing age-old dreamtime stories, while in-situ, and having the opportunity to ask questions adds perspective, an important dimension to the experience.”