Confusion Over Sailing into the King George and Berkeley Rivers in 2022 Dry Season.
There has been some discussion on our Forum pages this year about sailing a boat into the King George River and the Berkeley River in the East Kimberley. Some people have been advised that boats are not allowed into these rivers, or that permits are required to sail into the rivers. This is not correct.
Both rivers are part of the North Kimberley Marine Park, which is overseen by the West Australian Government under the Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. They are the relevant government authority who control the water area up to the high-water mark, including the creeks and rivers
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Land Permits and a Few Other Rules and Regulations Along the Kimberley Coast for the 2022 Season.
Land Permits and Visitor Passes.
There are very few restrictions about where you can sail your boat along the Kimberley coast, but there are Land Permits and Visitor Passes required to go ashore along most of the coast where cruising vessels commonly sail.
You need to apply for the two paid Visitor Pass systems to enter native title owned land before you apply for a free government issued Land Permit. The free Land Permit is required if you wish to go ashore along most of the Kimberley coast, including much of the land covered by the two paid Visitor Passes.
NOTE. You must get the paid Visitor Passes for the areas you will be sailing into BEFORE you apply for the free Land Access Permit, or your Land Access Permit application will be rejected for those areas.
Uunguu Visitor Pass. Visit https://wunambalgaambera.org.au/visitors/uunguu-visitor-pass/ to apply and pay for your passes. Comprehensive maps and costs are detailed in their web site. Passes are $90 per person for 30 consecutive days.
Dambimangari Visitor Pass. Visit https://www.dambimangari.com.au/ to apply and pay for your pass. Comprehensive maps and costs are detailed in their web site. This year they have changed their system from needing a pass per person, to a $35 pass per vessel for one trip. I assume 1 trip will cover your vessel for 1 dry season.
Note. The GPS coordinates on both sets of Visitor Pass maps are shown in decimal degrees (Google style). You will need to convert these to DMS (Degrees, Minutes, Seconds) to enter them into your GPS plotter. No mobile phone reception in most of the Kimberley Coast, so we suggest you do the conversion while you have internet and Google to assist.
Land Access Permits. Visit https://www.wa.gov.au/service/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-heritage-conservation/apply-permit-access-or-travel-through-aboriginal-land to apply for a free Land Access Permit. Their web site is difficult to navigate, so ring them for help is my best advice. Good Luck.
If you intend fishing off your boat in the Kimberley, including cast nets and crab nets, you will need a current Recreational Fishing License. Visit http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Fishing-and-Aquaculture/Recreational-Fishing/Pages/Recreational-Fishing-Licences.aspx to apply and pay for your license.
Beware. It is highly likely you will be boarded by Fisheries Department Inspectors while in Kimberley waters. They have the right to search your vessel and they will fine you for infringement of size and possession limits. Download the latest book of rules from the Fisheries website. http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/recreational_fishing/rec_fishing_guide/recreational_fishing_guide.pdf
Mud Crab Pots/Traps. It is illegal in WA to have a Queensland or Northern Territory style enclosed crab trap in your possession, let alone use one to catch a crab. If you are travelling from the east, leave the crab traps in Darwin. Fisheries will confiscate them and fine you if you have them on board in WA waters, even if you have them stowed under stuff in a foredeck locker and have no intention of using them in WA. Here is a KCCYC forum post regarding crab traps. https://kccyc.org.au/topic/dont-use-crab-traps-in-west-australian-waters/
Firearms on Board.
Most of the Kimberley coast between the WA/NT border and King Sound is now Marine Park. Below is an extract from information sent to me by a Marine Parks Ranger relating to firearms and ammunition in marine parks.
A person may be in possession of a firearm however unless otherwise authorised it must be stowed and disassembled (bolt out etc). See attached Reg. 12, these regulations apply for all “CALM Lands” including marine and national parks. General firearm regulations for WA would also apply as any other public lands/waters, for example licensing and any restrictions on that licence.
(1) A person must not, without lawful authority, have in his or her possession on CALM land a firearm or ammunition unless that thing —
(a) is completely stowed within a vehicle or vessel; and
(b) in the case of a firearm, is unloaded and disassembled.
Penalty: a fine of $2 000.
CALM land means land, or land and waters, to which these regulations apply, and includes caves and parts of caves on or under that land;
Here is a forum post from 2016 about crocodiles and firearms, which is still relevant. https://kccyc.org.au/topic/firearms/
Fuel at Paspaley Pearls, Kuri Bay Not Available.
Note!! (Updated 4/12/21). Due to Covid travel restrictions into Western Australia, Paspaley Pearls Kuri Bay operation can have no direct interaction between their staff, and crew/passengers on board vessels sailing through the area. This means that fuel is not available, and going ashore at Kuri Bay is prohibited, except in an emergency.
They are also basing a smaller mother ship at their Vansittart Bay and Osborne Islands pearl farms, which means that their capacity to supply fuel from the mother ship will be reduced. If you are planning on getting fuel from their Vansittart/Osborne Islands pearl farms for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, you should contact their Darwin Office well in advance to ensure they are able to supply your needs.
The situation may change if the WA Government relaxes Covid restrictions in 2022. KCCYC will post an update here if things change.
2021 Annual Beach Party Another Successful Day.
We had over 20 boats with around 50 people RSVP for the 4th July Beach Party this year, but like many Kimberley coast cruising plans, things changed. We ended up with 24 crew off 11 boats on the day. Given that this is one of the most remote places on the Australian coast for cruising boats to reach, we were all excited to be there.
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Planning your cruise to the Kimberley in 2022?
Post a brief outline of your sailing plans on the KCCYC forum to meet up with other vessels, ask questions, get info etc. https://kccyc.org.au/topic/boats-sailing-to-the-kimberley-in-2022/
List of Places to Visit along the Kimberley Coast.
If you’re planning your first sailing or power boat trip along the Kimberley Coast, you are probably struggling with decisions on choosing which of the hundreds of places you want to visit in the limited time you will be at sea in the area.
Don’t expect to see everything in one dry season, even if you plan to be out there for 6 months. There is just too much to see and do. Even our most experienced KCCYC Members, with multiple seasons under their belts sailing and exploring the area, will tell you there is always somewhere new to discover each time they visit the Kimberley.
To help you choose your cruising plan, we have put together a list of the interesting, popular, and scenic places generally visited by private cruising boats. We’ve also included a few “out of the way” spots that aren’t often visited.
We’ve also linked a heap of info to many of the locations for you to research.
We have no idea of everyone’s interests, capabilities, cruising speed, fuel range etc. But hopefully the list will assist you as a tool to make plans based on your particular parameters.
The Barra are Biting in the Kimberley Coast.
See some great wet season photos of the Kimberley coast at https://www.facebook.com/McGowansSunsetBeachCampingWA/
Fuel Available From McGowan Island Camp 2020.
(Update 5/12/21) Please be aware that due to Covid 19 restrictions on entry to remote Aboriginal Communities, fuel supplies from McGowan Island Camp did not eventuate in 2020. We are unsure if fuel will be available in future dry seasons, therefore you should make your own enquiries regarding fuel availability before sailing. Or contact Ross through the Contacts page for any recent updates.
McGowan Island Camping Ground is under new management with the return of Paul after a 9 year break away from McGowan, working in the marine industry in Darwin and Port Douglas.
Paul is arranging for bulk diesel to be available from McGowan Island Camping Ground in the 2020 dry season. The plan is to moor a 24,000 litre dumb barge off the beach at McGowan for boats to load diesel. Smaller amounts of diesel and ULP will be available on shore from 19,000 litre tanks for diesel, and 200 litre drums for ULP.
Fuel supplies are barged in from Wyndham, which can take several days to organise if he runs short. So if you’ve got big tanks, you will need to let him know you are coming, and approximately how much fuel you need. As we get closer to the dry season, I will update KCCYC members on when the fuel is likely to start flowing, but the plan at this point is to have the barge in place late April, early May 2020.
Fuel Availability along the Kimberley Coast and across the top end from Cairns to Darwin.
We recently updated the Anchorage Pages with the latest information on buying marine fuel along the Kimberley coast between Wyndham and Broome. KCCYC members can download the pdf from https://kccyc.org.au/anchorage-pdf-downloads/
We also added a new page to the website with a Google map showing the main marine fuel locations between Cairns and Broome. https://kccyc.org.au/northern-australia-marine-fuel-queensland-to-west-australia/
Crocodiles are getting cheekier and more aggressive on the Kimberley Coast. Dinghy attacked, crew stranded.
Two recent accounts of crocodiles stalking boaties on Kimberley Coast waters should serve as a warning to vessels cruising northern Australian waters. Rubber duckies, small dinghies and paddling craft such as kayaks are not suitable as tenders in this area.
A recent report was of an attack near Water Pipe Bay in Swift Bay around late 2013 dry season. We’re waiting on a first hand account of the incident, but its understood the croc tore the transom out of a small RIB and stalked the 2 crew for days. They were stranded ashore, living off oysters, and luckily managed to find fresh water. Rescue came by way of experienced Darwin based boaties who were about to leave the area and spotted the stranded couple waving frantically.Read more ....