The tidal phenomena at Montgomery Reef is a product of the region’s extreme tidal exchanges. The 154 sq mi (400 sq km) reef is covered at high tide, but as the tide falls over 4m of reef can be exposed, and the water inside pours out in increasingly active waterfalls. It’s best seen from a channel that indents the reef, but is actually outside it. As the tide falls, boats in this channel are surrounded by active waterfalls and swirling current. We’d timed our departure from Doubtful Bay to arrive for the best viewing time, starting about two hours before low water on a spring tide, and enjoyed an incredible show. Afterwards, we stopped by Langgi to view the amazing weather-sculpted rock formations there. Once again in the Kimberley, and twice that day, we found ourselves saying “Amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Trip highlights from June 22nd follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
We left before sunrise this morning for Montgomery Reef. True North had arrived at Raft Point overnight and left shortly after we did, also for Montgomery Reef. We approached the reef channel along the route recommended in our cruising guide, but True North entered on quite a different path. They draw slightly more than us, so we recorded their AIS track and followed it on the way back out. Their route was much deeper–we saw 16ft coming in with 13.5ft of tide at Lizard Island, and no less than 33ft on exit with 9.6ft of tide at Lizard Island.
We’re following a channel that indents Montgomery Reef. The reef is covered at higher tides, but about two hours before low tide on larger exchanges, it begins to uncover. As the tide level continues to fall, water cascades from inside the reef into the channel we’re in. We’ve arrived just as the reef was starting to uncover.
The video https://youtu.be/GUp6gSFsdgA (1:42) shows the waterfalls at various stages of the tide as we ran the tender several times through the narrow, shallow channel that extends north of the anchorage. Near the head of the channel, the current became quite strong as all the water poured in from either side and could only escape through this waterway. On each pass, the waterfalls were larger, and louder. There wasn’t much wind that day–most of the noise you can hear in the video is from the water motion. It was a wild experience being here. As with so many things in the Kimberley, we’ve just never seen anything like it.
After leaving Montgomery Reef, we stopped at Langgi to see the weather-sculpted rocks. It’s recommended to visit during low tide, but nearing a high tide much of the interesting pieces are still exposed.
A narrow gorge led inland near the rock formations. We didn’t have quite enough water to reach the waterfall or the climbing rope visible beside it. Presumably the rope provides access to a freshwater pool above.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.