Local Escapes

Horizontal Falls: Your Complete Guide To Exploring This Bucket-List Kimberley Beauty

By Rebecca Keating
16th Feb 2022

view from above of Horizontal Falls

Described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world,” it’s hard to believe this natural phenomenon is in our very own state. A tourist destination in its own right, yet off the grid to keep it low-key and oh-so special, the Horizontal Falls is something you have to witness at least once in your lifetime.  

If you're not sure exactly how to tackle the falls, here's everything you need to know.

What Are The Horizontal Falls

The Horizontal Falls, aka the Horries are located around 250 kilometres from Broome in Talbot Bay, known as Gandbadba to the saltwater Dambimangari people. The fast moving currents get their name cause they’re quite literally a waterfall on its side—a horizontal fall, all thanks to the mass amounts of water that are squeezed through gaps of the gorges in the stunning McLarty Range. The tides in this area (some of the biggest in the world we might add) can get up to 10 metres high, creating a natural phenomenon that makes this one of the coolest sights you’ll ever lay eyes on. 

The Dambimangari people chose the name Lalang-garram for this area, evoking that the saltwater is a spiritual place of natural abundance, and we couldn’t think of anything more fitting. 

a boat at horizontal Falls

How To Get To There

To get to the falls, you’re going to need to take in the sights from the sky. The views are ridiculous and you’ll want to make sure you’ve got full charge on your phone or camera. You can access the falls from Broome or Derby, so we recommend booking a sunny trip to Broome and adding this bucket list experience to your agenda. There’s a few plane and helicopter options and we reckon your best bet is to head out with the crew on Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures. It also means you’ll get to experience the falls from a speedboat- and in our opinion, there’s no better way to feel this force of nature. 

Best Time To Visit

The tours run from around March to November each year, depending on the weather and the wet season. With a jam packed 2021 season, if this is on the agenda for 2022, we recommend you get booking pronto. If you’re basing yourself in Broome, you can book in for a half day or full day trip. From Derby, you can really treat yourself and do an overnight stay on the luxury houseboat. It’s dreamy. 

view from a plane at Horizontal Falls

What To Expect

Departing from Broome on a half day tour you’ll either be picked up bright and early for the morning run or take the cruisy afternoon option. It can all hang off the weather, but we promise the early morning is worth it. 

This is where the fun begins. You’ll get boarded on to a 14-seat seaplane ready to head over to the falls and take in the views from above. If you can nab the seat next to the pilot- you’re in for a very special adventure. 

The plane ride lasts for about an hour and a half and every moment is amazing. The colours of the Kimberley from this low flying flight have to be seen to be believed—the turquoise blue waters, lush green islands and red ranges are seriously Insta-worthy. 

Flying over the Dampier Peninsula, across the thousands of islands that make up the Buccaneer Archipelago and the sacred site of Cape Leveque is something words can not describe. Landing on the water in the ranges is pretty cool too. 

Starting with a cruise through the bay and creeks is a great way to get to know the area and understand just how ancient the red cliffs of the ranges are. It’s pretty relaxing and you’ll get to bask in a bit of that Kimberley sun before heading on to the houseboat pontoon and indulging in a cooked brekkie or barbecue.

The next boat ride is a little bit different. This is where you get to experience the massive power of the falls. Your skipper will take you right up to the falls and then you’ll get ready to take a heart-pumping ride through them and across to the other side of the gorge. Be prepared to get a bit of a splash! 

view of Horizontal Falls from the boat

After all the excitement of the boat, it’s not quite time to rest. Jump back onto the pontoon and cool off for a dip in the Kimberley waters. Scared of the crocs? No need. The pontoon has a marine swimming enclosure to not only keep you safe, but get you up close and personal with the world’s friendliest tawny nurse sharks. They’ll throw in a few bits of barramundi so you can see the snap of their jaws just far enough away from your face. Believe it or not, they’re actually pretty damn cute. 

At this point, it’s tough to admit you’re getting ready to go back to resort life in Broome. The only solace we can offer is the plane ride back. A bit shorter than the journey over, you’ll get to take one last look from the clouds as you fly over places like Lombadina, Beagle Bay and the Willie Creek Pearl Farm before setting your sights on the famous Cable Beach and Broome township prior to landing.

If this isn’t enough, you can book a full day trip which adds Cape Leveque to the trip. The trip starts from Broome in a 4WD where you’ll drive up to the cape at the northernmost point of the Dampier Peninsula. Here you’ll get to learn about the importance of this sacred site and be immersed in the culture of the local people. 

And if you’re really looking to up the ante (and score some serious brownie points), book an overnight stay where you’ll get to experience the bay at night, feasting on a freshly caught barbecue dinner and stargazing the Milky Way. Sounds like absolute bliss.

Looking for somewhere to rest your head when you're done adventuring? Try these amazing Broome accommodation options.

Image credit: Tourism WA

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