Day 150 – 12/10/2019 on a Midlife Adventure.

There are certain experiences that you read about in the books and hear about from other people that you don’t want to miss and the Horizontal Falls was high up on the list of many.

One of the major hurdles that stop people from doing it is the cost, there are very few operators who do this trip and it is very popular so the experience comes with a price tag to match.

This is one of those journeys that was on my bucket list for a long time and much of the reason I extended my stay in Broome, WA to ensure that I could participate.

Pick up was at 6.45am to ensure that we could get up in the air and to the falls for the best viewing.


The fog down the street at this time of the morning was a bit unusual compared to the clear days that we have been having.

However soon enough we were on the bus heading for the airport… well the coffee shop next to the airport where we would have to wait until the fog cleared.

Artwork near coffee shop

At 8:30 an hour and a half later than we should have we got the green light to head to the airport, assured that the delays are accounted for and that it would still be a great day out.

Cessna Grand Caravan

After a quick pre flight briefing from Joshua our pilot we boarded the plane.

Cable Beach

Heading out over the last of the fog we headed off towards Cable Beach then tracked north to our destination.

Our pilot shared with us some interesting bits of information about the journey as we travelled up the 1 hr or so trip towards Cockatoo Island, WA.

View towards Cape Leveque with Cygnet Bay towards the bottom.

The journey up the coast shows you the aboriginal communities scattered about the region and long straight and in most cases dusty roads that get you out here. In the next few years (maybe) just like Cape York it will be fully sealed.

Islands off the coast

There are 800-1000 rocky islands that sit just above the coast of mainland WA that make up the Buccaneer Archipelago. The majority of these are uninhabited by much else than Crocodiles and Turtles.

Cockatoo Island, WA

Our landing strip was on the currently not operating mining and resort island of Cockatoo Island where they mine Iron Ore.

On Approach

After safely landing at the airport we were on a bus to start the next part of the journey.

The bus headed down the hill giving us a great view of the mining pit currently full of water.

We learnt about the plans to bring the resort back to life after Alan Bond’s investment in setting it up were hampered by going broke. However a new group have recently purchased it and will look to bring the island back to life.

One of the houses needing probably more than a coat of paint.

Once on the beach we were quickly on the boat a journey made easy with the ramp provided.

Once on the boat we were informed that whilst we would have a good day out that due to the lateness of our arrival, the falls would not be at their peak. (I’ll talk more about this in the summary at the end of the post).

Cockatoo Wharf

Heading past the wharf on Cockatoo Island we made our way towards Koolan Island, WA where they are still mining the Iron Ore and where they better hurry up as they have two ships waiting in the harbour to fill.

Then it was past some islands where you can see the impact of the two tectonic plates that millions of years ago rammed together bending the rock around in a very interesting formations.

Curved Rock

Continuing along we arrived at the mangrove channel with its teal blue waters. I’m sure a favourite home to Crocodiles I was happy to stay well within the confines of the boat.

After a lot more travelling we reached the Horizontal Falls.

Horizontal Falls

Arriving just short of slack tide the water on the first of the falls had almost equalised however the water was still quite turbulent.

2nd Fall

The smaller of the two falls was still running well so we were able to go through there covered well by the power of 3 big motors on the boat.

1st Fall – Almost Slack tide
2nd Fall
View through both falls

We got to do a couple of passes through the falls which was fun as the current throws the boat all over the place as you come through.

The falls are created by water cutting away at the sandstone until it opened up allowed the sea water past and the falls are created by the tide which makes it very time dependent. Check this link to see how spectacular the experience can be.

Ploughmans Platter

We then headed back and stopped in at a quiet bay away from the wind and waves that decided to pop up for some lunch.

Before stopping in at a bay for a quick walk and stretch of the legs.

With the channel out the front of Koolan Island closed for blasting at the mine we made our very bumpy way back to Cockatoo Island to get back on the plane for the journey home.

Flying out over the mangroves you get a great perspective of the number of islands and the channels that make up this area.

It would be quite enjoyable in a yacht travelling this area although i’m sure hitting something would be constantly on your mind.

The colours are really bright and interesting.

Horizontal Falls
Horizontal Falls

The tide had changed with the water flowing back out by the time we flew over and both of the falls running strong.

The sight from the plane provides a good idea how much pressure is passing through but not the height difference between the low/high points.

Scooting back towards Broome we went over King Sound and the farming lands before tracking back over Cable Beach to come in for landing.

Broome Airport from the Sky

Out in the distance my mate from Fitzroy Crossing was out celebrating his wedding anniversary on a sunset cruise (Happy Anniversary to you both and hope you had a great night on the water. I’ll see you next time I’m up this way!)

On final approach

With Joshua having safely landed us in Broome we jumped back on the bus for the ride home.

I took the opportunity to enjoy sunset from Gantheaume Point again as whilst Cable Beach is great the contrast with the rock wall and lighthouse makes this a better picture in my opinion.

Another great sunset.

So I can tick off my bucket list that I have done the Horizontal Falls and had a lovely day out.

It is of course disappointing that the falls weren’t flowing very well due to our late arrival. Mother nature can be a fickle b*tch some days.

The team particularly on the island and boat at Go Horizontal Falls Tours did their best to make up for the circumstances that we found ourselves in and thank them for a great job.

I’m still left wondering if when it was clear that the experience would not be as expected that we should be told about it earlier and that the company put the experience over their cost of cancellations or rescheduling.

So I can’t say I’m pumped after the best experience of my life. I’ve had a nice day out and seen some great sights but for the investment in time and money for something that is probably once in a lifetime…I feel it didn’t live up to the expectations…

Tomorrow is a new day with opportunities to build on my experiences and importantly Bathurst day so we’ll see next happens then on this Midlife Adventure.