Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Rowley Shoals - A Kimberley Coral Atoll Paradise Best Explored in Luxury


The Rowley Shoals, situated 260km from Broome, off the north-west coast of Western Australia, are a true haven of natural beauty.

Especially loved by divers, the Shoals are made up of 3 coral atolls - Clerke Reef, Mermaid Reef and Imperieuse Reef - with shallow lagoons filled with an abundance of marine life and spectacular coral.

Each atoll that makes up the Rowley Shoals is approximately 80 - 90 square kilometres in area, and very similar is size, shape and distance apart.

The Rowley Shoals were named in 1818 by Captain Philip Parker King, who first described their relative positions. He named the most north-easterly of the trio Mermaid Reef, after his ship. The middle shoal was named Clerke Reef after Captain Clerke, who had reported it from a whaler sometime between 1800 and 1809, and the south-western shoal was dubbed Imperieuse Reef after the ship from which Captain Rowley sighted it in 1800.

The Shoals are now considered one of the very best pristine marine environments in the world. With their remoteness, lying on the very edge of the Australian continental shelf, many claim they are the most perfect example of shelf atolls in Australian waters.

The coral gardens of the Rowley Shoals are absolutely beautiful and almost untouched by man. You can dive the area and hand feed the potato cod and maori wrasse, and the colourful reef fish don’t seem to be disturbed by the presence of divers.

As the tides go down, the sea gushes over the edges of the shoals like miniature waterfalls, and the reefs disappear below the water’s surface at high tide, with only the Clerke and Imperieuse island’s sandy beaches showing.

A visit to the “Acquarium” is an essential for the snorkeller. Rivalling the Great Barrier Reef, yet only waist-deep in water, the experience is amazing. It has brilliantly coloured corals, giant clams and more than 600 of the world’s most beautiful fish species at your fingertips! An underwater camera is a MUST!

Another very popular dive experience is a “wall dive”, where you dive along the shoal walls as they are submerged in water. Outer reef snorkelling is amazing, as you explore the sheer coral walls. Clean and virtually undamaged by the effects of man and pollution, you’ll get to see just how spectacular the colours and shapes of the coral are.

Your visit to this amazing place will be a memory that lasts for a lifetime. There’s very few spots like this left in the world nowdays, because of the ravages of mankind, so the Rowley Shoals should be high on your list of holiday destinations if you want an amazing experience. One you can tell your grandchildren about and still remember the beauty and colour of this spectacular location. Definitely one of Australia’s highlights.

Since the Rowley Shoals are 12 hours off the coast of Broome, you’ll need a way to visit them, and there’s no better choice than the magnificent True North, operated by North Star Cruises.

The True North allows discerning adventurers to experience the wilderness of the Rowley Shoals in surroundings more akin to one of the world’s most exclusive hotels! It even travels with a full-time helicopter - an air-conditioned Bell 407!

Spend 6 days in absolute luxury aboard the True North, and experience the beauty of this magnificent location. We have plenty of diving trips for you to take, as well as delicious meals prepared by our master chefs. Relax in total comfort while our all-Australian crew attends to your every need.

For more information about cruising the Coral Atolls of the Rowley Shoals and other spectacular Kimberley locations, visit our website to download our cruise itineraries: www.northstarcruises.com.au