Talbot Bay (Ganbadba) is in a remote area just over 100 kilometres north of Derby in the Buccaneer Archipelago. Most famously known as the home of ‘Horizontal Falls’ Talbot Bay is one of the most iconic and popular tourist destinations in the Kimberley region. Described by David Attenborough as one of the world’s great natural wonders, Horizontal Falls is a phenomenon that’s mesmerising, mysterious, and magnificent.
Horizontal Falls are created by fast-moving tidal currents squeezing through two narrow gorges at an incredible rate, like rapids, to form what look like waterfalls tipped on their side. The gorges are part of the McLarty Range in Talbot Bay and are only accessible by air or water. There is much more to explore in the Talbot Bay area including the spectacular rock formations and extraordinary coral reefs.
The Horizontal Falls are not a true waterfall, but there seems no better way to describe this incredible phenomenon. The falls are created by ocean water being pushed through two sandstone gaps between the rugged red rock faces of the McLarty Range. Twice a day, millions of litres of water are pushed through the small gaps with incredible force. As the incoming tidal waters build up behind the sandstone rock, it creates a variation in ocean levels of up to four metres, making the mesmerising horizontal waterfall effect.
There are several ways to get close to the action. A relaxing cruise takes you there through the pristine bays and creeks of this wilderness area. Adventure seekers can board an adrenaline-packed boat ride and get close enough to feel the force of the raging waters. Otherwise, a scenic flight over Talbot Bay and the Horizontal Falls will be one you’ll long remember.
Talbot Bay has one of Australia’s most remarkable reef systems. Aptly named for its abundance of turtles, there are also large quantities of dugongs, crocodiles, and finfish in its waters.
Turtle Reef at Talbot Bay covers 25 square kilometres and is one of the largest reefs on the Kimberley coast. It is also one that is seldom explored, hence its pristine condition. Turtle Reef joins the rocky Molema Island, located near the centre of Talbot Bay, to the mainland. At low tide, the reef rises six to seven metres above sea level exposing the magnificent coral living alongside extensive mud deposits and mangrove forests. Also living on the reef are a variety of seagrass, sponges, invertebrates, and molluscs.
These well-developed reefs are of particular interest to scientists as they thrive in opposition to the current understanding that corals need clear ocean waters to grow and prosper. Turtle Reef flourishes in these dramatic intertidal conditions.
Talbot Bay is located in the Buccaneer Archipelago, a remote area on the coast of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is a little over 100 kilometres to the north of Derby and 250 kilometres from Broome.
There are no roads to Horizontal Falls so visitors travel by boat, plane, or helicopter. The flight on a luxury turbo-prop jet seaplane takes around an hour from Broome and about 40 minutes from Derby. There are fabulous views to take in as you fly over the islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago before landing on the calm waters of Talbot Bay.
The Dambimangari are the traditional owners of The Talbot Bay and Horizontal Falls area. This is the ancestral country of the saltwater people, and the traditional owners have exclusive possession native title over the area.
For thousands of years, the Dambimangari have depended on and cared for these lands and oceans and the area remains one of the last relatively undamaged coastal areas in the world.
The Lalang-garram/Horizontal Falls marine park was created in 2016. The Dambimangari people chose the name Lalang-garram, a Worrorra word meaning a spiritual place, a place of natural abundance.
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