Snubbed & soaked

Day Five of our cruise on the Reef Prince begins with a pretty sunrise as we sip coffee on the front deck. Fellow passenger Paulo shows me a few yoga stretches, as we’re feeling tight in the lower back from all the time spent sitting in tenders and on plastic chairs.

I stretch a little too vigorously while doing the downward dog and have borrow a rubber ball from crew member Jess to roll under my back. I lie on the dining room floor with it to relieve the muscle ache. Old age!

DD goes fishing after breakfast, while I head off on a scenic boat tour. I am shrouded in a fishing shirt, with a long skirt draped over my legs and Tour Director Paul’s burka-style cap to protect my face and neck. The air is still and hot and I feel a little queasy, so I’m glad to return to the air-conditioning on the ship and decide against going on a second excursion in the morning, which means I miss seeing snub-nosed dolphins frolicking in the river.

THIS is what a snub-nosed dolphin looks like:

Bummer!

After lunch, DD and I chat to Nick, the boat’s engineer, who has a prosthetic leg that makes the stairs on the boat a little arduous. He tells us he lost his leg after a car accident when he was 19. He worked on boats before then and was determined to return to them, despite his bosses trying to convince him to take a desk job on dry land.

Nick admits his stump gives him constant problems, but he loves working at sea. He also loves travelling and can’t wait to get back overseas again when COVID permits.

Later in the afternoon, we’re taken to an indigenous art site, hidden up a precariously rocky slope, the path overgrown due to lack of visitors. I initially decide to stay in the boat, but Paul’s enthusiasm is catching and I scramble up to take a look. As DD lies on his back to photograph the art, a micro bat flutters past his head!

Then it’s back in the tenders and we head for the gorgeous Kings Cascades Falls. We have the site completely to ourselves and the guides nudge the boats under the falls to douse us with the cascading water.

They also tell us the story of American beauty queen Ginger Meadows, who was visiting Australia for the America’s Cup and made the mistake of swimming in the water below the falls. She was taken by a crocodile, who stashed his catch under the mangroves to eat later, so rescuers were able to retrieve her body. They placed it in a body bag on the prow of the ship and the croc spent the night trying to launch himself onto the boat to retrieve his meal. It must have been a terrifying and traumatic time for everyone on board.

Fortunately, there is no sign of the croc on our visit. We clamber – very cautiously – ashore and make our way up the side of the waterfall to the waterholes above.

I take my waterproof camera and DD has a blast snapping away with it, while I take a few fun shots of him.

I was nervous about how I’d handle the challenges of getting there, but I manage to lower myself down with the rope and paddle on my back across the first waterhole – due to my lack of swimming skills – to get to the picturesque second one.

It’s the most incredible feeling to take a dip together in the wilderness, with not another soul around us. We reluctantly dry off, pull ourselves back up the rocks with the rope and marvel at the incredible views over Prince Regent National Park.

The vista is breath taking as we make our way back down the side of the waterfall to the boat at dusk. I’m blown away by the experience – it’s one of my favourite days on the cruise.

Click here to read more about today’s adventure at The Thirsty Travellers.

Song of the day: The Stone Roses “Waterfall”

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