David Attenborough has called the Horizontal Falls one of the “greatest wonders of the natural world.” The waterfalls, which are located in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, are created by the changing of ocean tides through the rocks and are one of Western Australia’s most magnificent vistas.
Horizontal Falls Information
Horizontal Falls are one of the most spectacular natural features in the Kimberley area. In contrast to other waterfalls, the tidal falls in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago run horizontally.
Although they are referred to as waterfalls, these natural phenomena is really made up of powerful tidal currents rushing through two tiny coastal valleys. Each tide change causes water to repeatedly bank up against one side of the narrow cliff route, creating the waterfall illusion.
The twin gaps are part of the McLarty Ranges, which contain two parallel ridges around 300 metres apart. The first and most seaward gap is around 20 metres wide, while the second and most spectacular breach is approximately 10 metres wide.
David Attenborough has called the horizontal waterfall phenomenon “one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.”
The rapidly flowing tidal current squeezes through two tiny gorges of the McLarty Range in Talbot Bay, driving the water into rapid-like formations that rush through the twin gaps at an incredible velocity, generating waterfalls turned on their side.
The high tides in the Kimberley may reach more than 10 metres, and the flow direction reverses, guaranteeing that the water flows in two directions each day.
This remarkable waterfall is located in the Buccaneer Archipelago and is not accessible by car. All year, you can see the Horizontal Falls from the air on a beautiful flight from Broome or Derby. Get up close and personal with an extended cruise or travel by float plane and land at Horizontal Falls, then enjoy a thrilling boat ride through the flowing water torrents.
While tidal changes occur all year, tour providers can advise on the optimum times to observe the falls since certain times are better than others for experiencing the full force of the rushing waves.
Boats may be driven through the two holes to the bay behind. The tides in this area vary by 10 metres in six and a half hours from low tide to high tide and vice versa.
The tide can pile up in front of the gaps faster than it can pass through them, creating a waterfall effect that can result in a four-meter-high cascade between the bays. The Horizontal Falls’ roaring waves must be seen to be believed. Prepare for an action-packed adventure as you explore some of the world’s most unusual waterways among the hundreds of islands that comprise the Buccaneer Archipelago.
Talbot Bay, home to two Horizontal Falls, may be explored on a boat tour that takes in the bay’s tight waterways and white-tipped waves. Prefer an aerial adventure? Take a beautiful flight over the falls to get a birds-eye perspective.
Horizontal Falls may be reached by seaplane or helicopter from Broome / Rubibi or Derby. To get to Broome, fly for two and a half hours from Perth or drive for at least two days. Derby is located about 200 miles north of Broome / Rubibi.
The whirling waters of the Horizontal Falls are a natural phenomena formed by some of the world’s greatest tidal motions. Massive quantities of water flow through small rock passageways, giving the unusual sideways waterfall appearance.
The falls also provide an adrenaline-pumping thrill. Prepare for a mind-blowing experience whether you view the rapids and towering cliffs from a low-flying scenic aircraft or get in on the action in a speed boat.
High tides in Kimberley
Normal high tides are created by a bulge in the water that covers the earth’s surface. High tides occur simultaneously on both sides of the planet. The water on the side nearest to the moon bulges out as a result of the moon’s gravitational influence. The ocean on the side farthest away from the moon bulges out as a result of factors such as the earth’s centrifugal force.
The tides in King Sound, near Derby, are influenced by the form of the local shore. The vast, shallow northwestern continental shelf extends into King Sound. This explains why this location has such high tides.
The thin continental shelf constricts and squeezes water coming in from deeper locations. Because the volume of water is limited in this shallow zone, the currents intensify in an attempt to carry the water onto the shelf. As a result, the tide is magnified as it flows shoreward. Tides in Broome are around 9 metres high. However, because King Sound is formed like a massive shallow canal, the tides are significantly greater. The greatest tides in Kimberley are caused by water being constrained on both sides and being forced up the Sound.
Everything You Need to Know About Horizontal Falls
Horizontal Falls, also known as Garaanngaddim, are one of Kimberley’s many stunning natural attractions, emphasising nature’s great strength and raw beauty while also providing opportunity for thrill seekers and adventurers.
What exactly is it?
While Western Australia is rich in natural beauty, the Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley are really unique. The natural phenomenon is caused by massive tidal waves of up to 13 metres in height that rush between two tiny valleys in the coastal McLarty Ranges.
Despite the fact that these hills are 300 metres apart, the landward gorge is just 10 metres wide and the seaward valley is only 20 metres wide. As the tides come in, seawater cannot travel rapidly enough down the gorges, resulting in a waterfall-like stream of water and occasionally a massive 4 metre height differential between the two sides. This impact is enhanced by the suction-like action of the Montgomery Reef, which is located 20 km offshore and is home to remarkable tidal occurrences.
This amazing spectacle also reverses when the tide rushes out, which makes logical but still amazes us.
What is its location?
To witness this occurrence, head to the Kimberley, especially Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago. The nearest town in Dambimangari country is Kimbolton, which is around 30 kilometres distant – but you won’t be able to drive there in your Getz (or even a 4WD). We advise leaving it to the professionals as access to the spot, which is a part of the protected Lalang-marram/Horizontal Falls Marine Park, requires a seaplane and then a boat. and contacting one of the numerous tour operators in the region.
What should I do?
Once in the Kimberley, there are a variety of tour companies that can take you to the Horizontal Falls, which, as previously said, is the only way to see it up close. When booking, make sure your tour operator has obtained Dambimangari nation visitor passes – you can read their Code of Conduct for Visitors HERE to guarantee you’re helping to maintain the unspoiled nature and honouring Traditional Owners’ desires.
What you should not do: horizontal falls accident
As Follow the Leave No Trace Principles when visiting our natural areas: don’t be a drongo and respect the ecosystem. To be dramatic, this is also some of the world’s wildest, most untamed scenery, with not just hazardous currents but also estuarine crocodiles, sharks, and box jellyfish – so listen to the experts and guides to ensure you return in one piece.