In and around the area of the famous Horizontal waters are some fantastic reminders of just how old this area is and the various geological changes that have happened over millions of years.
On this particular morning, Tom Putt and myself set out to explore this ancient land.
The Kimberley region extends from the dry red sand dunes of the Great Sandy Desert in the south through rugged sandstone escarpments of the Kimberley Plateau and Timor Sea in the north. It extends east to the Northern Territory border.
Covering some 423 500 square kilometres it is nearly twice the size of the State of Victoria and three times the size of England!
Numerous islands off the northern coast and the many gulfs, headlands and the irregularity of the coastline attest to the current historically high sea levels and the so-called “drowned” topography of the region..
There are more than 2500 mapped islands between Yampi Sound and the mouth of the King Edward River. In a straight line it is approximately 400km from Yampi Sound to the mouth of the King Edward River whereas it is nearly 1300 km around the actual coastline.
On this particular True North Adventure we covered some 1100nm of this ancient land.
The current landscape of the Kimberley has been evolving over a period of at least 250 million years. Periods of uplift resulted in peneplanation of the land surface and deeply incised rivers. The above photo is a very good example of the uplift phenomenon often seen in the Kimberley region.
A lengthy period of tropical conditions 70-50 million years ago resulted in the development of a lateritic cap, particularly over the volcanic rocks which are more susceptible to weathering. This is a characteristic feature of the Mitchell Plateau.
As sea levels rose from approximately 120m below current levels following the end of the last glacial maxima 18 000 years ago, the Kimberley coast line became drowned with the sea filling what were once river valleys. This phenomena gives the coastline its distinctive irregular outline.
To me the Kimberley is like a snapshot into our very existence and a cruise through a sci fi movie like Jurassic park…but the park stretches for over 400,000 square Kilometres!