Silver Explorer, Australia Cruise ex Darwin to Perth

Australia

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17 Night Cruise sailing from Darwin to Perth aboard Silver Explorer.

17 Night Cruise sailing from Darwin to Perth aboard Silver Explorer.

The beauty of an Expedition cruise is the depth of knowledge that it gives. This 17-day adventure is no exception: beginning with the impressive Kimberley region of North West Australia, enjoy immersive excursions over the breathtaking Bungle Bungle range and speeding through the waters of the phenomenal Horizontal Falls in the Buccaneer region. Follow this by some superlative wildlife spotting in the ruby red, turquoise waters of Dampier before sailing south to the lovely Ningaloo Reef - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Highlights of this cruise:

Darwin
Australia's capital of the north is a uniquely tropical city, and a historically isolated outpost of this vast, diverse country. Reaching up towards the equator, a full 2,000 miles from Sydney and Melbourne, the city was named in honour of Charles Darwin by the British settlers who established a frontier outpost here. With a unique history, beautiful islands nearby, and a palette of sizzling Pacific flavours, colourful Darwin is an enchanting and exotic Australian destination. Crocodiles patrol the jungled waterways and tropical rainforests around Australia's gateway to the Top End. Explore via airboat to look down on the veiny waterways of the mist-laced Kakadu National Park. The sounds of chattering birdlife and the gentle splash of fountains and waterfalls will fill your ears in George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Soak it all in, before kicking back and relaxing with a picnic and a crackling barbecue. The sunshine and famous tropical pink sunsets mean many visitors naturally gravitate to the city's soft sands to relax at spots like pretty Mindil Beach, as evening approaches. The adjoining market is filled with souvenirs and crafts stands and is the perfect great place to enjoy some fiery Asian flavours. Stroll the stalls, grab some food, and crack open an ice-frosted beer as the sunset show begins. It may be remote, but Darwin found itself on the front line during the Pacific War, as the Japanese air force unloaded their bombs onto the city in 1942. This relaxed unassuming city has a deeply resilient backbone, however, and you can explore the museums to learn more of the war's impact on Darwin, as well as the devastating effects of one of Australia's worst natural disasters, Cyclone Tracy in 1973.

Exmouth
Ningaloo coral reef is a fringing reef that abuts the mainland shoreline south of the town of Exmouth. At 300 km (185 miles) long, it is the longest and most pristine fringing reef in the world. The coral even extends into the intertidal zone. Much of the limestone coast is in the arid Cape Range National Park. This is where the desert meets the coral, and both are included in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. An arid climate means little rain and soil runs off from the land, leaving the sea turquoise clear and making snorkelling a dream. Within Cape Range National Park, you will appreciate wave-cut limestone escarpments and rugged gorges like Yardie Creek. Cape Range has a diversity of eco-systems including eucalypt woodlands, acacia scrublands and spinifex grasslands. Australia is a land of lizards and here skinks, dragons, monitors and geckos are in their element. Euros (Hill Kangaroos) are common although they, and their smaller cousins the Black-flanked Rock-wallabies, hide in the shade on hot days. It is a busy calendar at Exmouth. During January/February thousands of sea turtles come ashore to nest. In March to July Whale Sharks gather offshore. From June to October migrating Humpback Whales heading south pass close to shore. June to August is the peak time for a colourful variety of wildflowers like the green Bird Flower, crimson Sturts Desert Pea and purple Yardie Morning Glory which is found nowhere else. There is always something to see where the wet and dry paradises meet.

Wyndham
Wyndham is a small settlement with the spirit of a Kimberley outback township. It was established in 1886 with the Halls Creek gold rush and sits on the Cambridge Gulf where several rivers converge. Today Wyndham has a population of roughly 900 people and operates largely as a port exporting cattle, servicing the mining industry and hosting a few small ships. For these vessels Wyndham is a gateway to the breathtaking Bungle Bungle mountain range and the nearby Ord River. The Bungle Bungle Mountains in Purnululu National Park are now a World Heritage Site. In excess of 350 million years have shaped geological formations of giant orange and black striped domes rising out of the ground into a landscape unlike any other. Known to the local Aboriginal people for thousands of years, the Bungles were only discovered by the outside world in the mid-1980s. Conversely, cruising the peaceful and tree-lined Ord River is a chance to look for freshwater crocodiles, fruit bats, short-eared rock wallabies and a variety of birds, including Mangrove Herons and Mangrove Gerygones. Please note: All destinations on voyages in the Kimberley region, and the order in which they are visited, are subject to tidal variations and weather conditions.

Perth
Coming in at number seven on Lonely Planet’s list of best places to live, Fremantle has finally begun to shake off the shadow of neighbouring big brother Perth. With just 20 kilometres separating the two cities, Perth, with its happy hippie vibe has long been the big pull for visitors to the region. But Fremantle’s colourful past and bright future gives Perth as good as it gets. The coastal city has undergone a complete revamp since the America’s Cup thrust Fremantle into the spotlight in 1987. Over AUS$ 1,3 billion has been poured into revamping the city, and the fruits of the city’s labour are ripe for picking. Investment in the arts has brought Fremantle to the fore of thriving urban culture, while generous grants for small businesses has led to groovy live-music rooms, hipster bars, boutique hotels, left-field bookshops, craft-beer breweries, Indian Ocean seafood shacks amid the buskers and beaches. If that doesn’t not sound like your glass of beer, we guarantee a stroll along the wooden riverside walkway will change your mind. The city also enjoys another, rather different status. Fremantle was one of Australia’s penal cities, vestiges of which can still be found in Fremantle Prison. Almost 10,000 convicts were condemned to life imprisonment here between 1850 and 1868, but the prison remained in use until 1991. Today, the memorable sandstone building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at just 15 minutes from port is well worth a visit. Just don’t forget your get out of jail free card.

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