Southern Australia Coastal Discovery
Round Cape Leeuwin and enter a world of deep-sea canyons, granite-domed islands and white-sand beaches swept by the Southern Ocean. Follow a coast charted by Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin where whales, sea lions, fur seals, great white sharks and Australia’s only pirate reigned supreme.
Watch for whales as you sail, with hotspots like Bremer Bay Canyon attracting orcas, minkes, southern rights and humpbacks. Hike to vantage points in the Recherche Archipelago, more than a hundred islands that are home to Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, a sensational pink lake and the pirate Black Jack. Keep an eye out for southern right whales beneath the dramatic sea cliffs at Head of Bight. Photograph Cape Barren geese, rare lizards and rock wallabies in the Investigator Group off Eyre Peninsula, and visit the world-famous oyster farms of Coffin Bay. Snorkel with playful sea lions in the Spencer Gulf before a final foray to Kangaroo Island to admire wind-sculpted granite, tammar wallabies, koalas and a variety of birdlife.
This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian residents.
Day 1 Fremantle
Embark the Greg Mortimer in the afternoon. After boarding, take time to settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings. Enjoy the thrill of departure as we pull. In the evening, meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.
Day 2 At sea, Chatham Island
Departing Fremantle, share the ‘Humpback Highway’ with leviathans returning to Antarctica and possibly a dolphin escort. Round Australia’s south-west corner, home to the lovely Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, which marks where the Indian and Southern oceans meet. In the afternoon, conditions permitting, we hope to Zodiac cruise along Chatham Island’s soaring granite cliffs. Not to be confused with New Zealand’s Chatham Islands (first sunrise on Earth – each day), Australia’s Chatham Island is a nature reserve that’s home to NZ fur seals, flesh-footed shearwaters, little penguins and WA’s only threatened plant, the cliff-hanging fern Asplenium obtusatum.
Day 3 Bremer Bay Canyon
Wake to a stretch of Southern Ocean 70 km off the coast that looks just like the surrounding sea – but it’s not. Below the surface is Bremer Bay Canyon, which each summer redirects a cold, salty Antarctic current up from the deep. When the nutrient-rich waters hit the surface, they create a biological hotspot unlike any on Earth. Breaching orcas, dolphins, sperm whales and giant squid are just part of the marine life frenzy. Blue sharks have been seen following orcas. The phenomenon is still relatively new, so keep track of any new sightings. Even pygmy blue whales pass through the area. If conditions allow, we’ll launch Zodiacs for an experience you’ll never forget.
Days 4-5 Recherche Archipelago
Awake amidst the Recherche Archipelago, a chain of 105 islands and some 1200 islets that stretch from near Esperance in the west, to near Israelite Bay in the East. In 1803, explorer Matthew Flinders left two anchors behind, just off Middle Island, the largest in the archipelago. We hope to land here and hike to the beautiful pink, Lake Hillier, and learn the story of pirate Black Jack Anderson, a violent sealer who set off from here to raid shipping between Albany and Adelaide. Ours will take a more-gentle approach, swimming from pristine white beaches in turquoise waters shared with Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals. Exploring rarely visited islands and to photograph Recherche Cape Barren geese, rock parrots, red-eared firetails and a host of reptiles including Rosenberg’s monitor. Marvel at the raw beauty of these wilderness isles, while enjoying Southern Ocean sundowners.
Day 6 At Sea
After nearly a week of intense exploration, relax and enjoy entertaining talks about explorers who first mapped the wild coast to the north of us, and the natural history of the region we’re approaching. Step out on deck to watch for southern right and blue whales, and to photograph seabirds accompanying the ship.
Days 7-8 Great Australian Bight, Investigator Group
Continue our course parallel to the Great Australian Bight, the vertical cliff-lines marking when Antarctica separated from Australia when Gondwana broke apart. We ship cruise the Head of the Bight, where Southern Rights and pygmy blue whales come to calve, and Australian sea lions breed in small colonies along the cliffs. Above the cliffs is the spare scenery of the Nullarbor Plain. After lunch, we reach the dramatic Investigator Group of islands, just off the western shores of Eyre Peninsula. If conditions permit, Zodiac ashore on Pearson Island to look for Cape Barren geese, rare lizards and rock wallabies as well as fairy penguins, short-tailed shearwaters and rock parrots.
Days 9-10 Coffin Bay, Spencer Gulf
Delight in a day of adventure with the striking scenery of the Eyre Peninsula and Coffin Bay as the backdrop. Zodiac-cruise or paddle crystal-clear waters, stroll along unspoilt beaches or enjoy a hike amongst the coastal heath and woodlands of the National Park. Search the skies for the white-bellied sea eagles and osprey that breed along this coastline. Overnight we enter the Spencer Gulf to enjoy the treasures of the Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area. The rich waters of the adjacent marine park are home to one of the world’s largest colonies of Australian sea lions.
Day 11 Kangaroo Island
Marvel at the regenerative powers of nature while exploring Australia’s third-largest island from the comfort of your floating base camp. Following on from the devastating bushfires of January 2020 this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see new life bursting forth, the return of koalas, wallabies, echidnas and dunnarts, and the pleasure of islanders as they show off the beauty of their home. From swimming with dolphins and sea lions, to participating in post-fire ecological surveys. Explore spectacular granite coastlines and gain new insights into habitat restoration from renowned experts. Local artists will share their perspectives, and guides will introduce their natural world.
Day 12 Adelaide
After breakfast, farewell your expedition team and disembark to be transferred to the airport or your hotel.
Important note: In the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea state and other conditions beyond our control.
- Arrival transfer from airport to Greg Mortimer on Day 1
- Departure transfer from Greg Mortimer to airport or hotel on last day
- Onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- Complimentary spray jacket
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- Explore and learn about the unique marine ecosystems designated as “Hope Spots” by Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue team, including the ‘Great Southern Reef’, Salisbury Island and Kangaroo Island
- Cruise the nutrient-rich waters of Bremer Bay’s deep-sea canyons that attract orcas, sharks, dolphins, sperm whales and giant squid
- Trek on the wilderness islands of the Recherche Archipelago, discovering pink lakes, sea lion colonies and stories of sealers, whalers and pirates that preceded you
- Enjoy spectacular birdwatching in the Investigator Group, renowned for its endangered fairy tern, Cape Barren geese, rock parrots and more
- Delight in the playfulness and grace of Australian sea lions as you snorkel^ in the waters off Hopkins Island
- Inspect bushfire recovery on Kangaroo Island, with the return of koalas, short-beaked echidnas and tammar wallabies
^Sea lion snorkel activity at Hopkins Island is included in expedition cost.
4-15 October 2021