Adventure-Partner Stacey-Leigh Thompson shares her special day on the TRUE NORTH.
Excitement hums throughout the TRUE NORTH this morning, it’s heli-picnic day.
Having experienced one of these sojourns previously, my anticipation is high. The TRUE NORTH’s picnic sites are always very-highly regarded by crew and guest alike, so I know I will be in for another very special day!
In the ship’s lounge my fellow travelling companions and I are introduced to the adventure ahead by Sarah, one of the TRUE NORTH’s ever-smiling crew. Suitably briefed, we are then guided to the heli-deck where our EC130 Eurocopter awaits.
Getting settled into the heli’s comfortable leather seats, I buckle up, pop-on the headphones, luxuriously stretch out my legs and get my camera ready to capture the stunning surrounds. The morning sun is glistening on the water and plays in tandem with the reflected sandstone rock. The helicopter starts with a chuf chuf noise and our pilot, Rainor, greets all with a grin and asks, “Everyone ready for a great day?” A resounding chorus of agreeable noises is the response.
Effortlessly we lift-off from the heli-deck, gently bank to the left and then we are gliding away from the TRUE NORTH.
The vista opens and my eyes greedily take-in the Kimberley panorama. The colours are mind-blowing; a turquoise sea, lush green vegetation and rust-coloured rock formations all compete for my attention. En-route Rainor gives us the rundown on the picnic location and the many delights that are in-store and, after just a short flight we are starting to circle.
The picnic spot unfolds beneath; the rugged landscape makes way for a large and idyllic watering hole peppered with cascading waterfalls; the surrounding area is filled with towering melaleuca trees. No wonder the spot is called Melaleuca Falls. My heart is in my mouth as I take it all in, this must be what paradise looks like!
We touchdown on a rocky landscape and cruise director Tegan welcomes us with a beaming smile. Another quick rundown on the location and then she leads us down to the water’s edge where shade, chairs and refreshments are nestled. A glass of icy-cold champagne sets the tone and the beverage dances on my tongue. With just a glance to my left I see a sparkle of another kind. The temptation is too much and without waiting a moment longer I’m stripping down to my swimsuit and making my way to the edge of the billabong. Jumping into the cool silky water I feel instantly refreshed. Fellow guests are also enjoying the luxuriously invigorating water astride cleverly supplied pool noodles, drinks in hand and gazing-up to a vivid-blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. This is truly living.
Soon the mouth-watering aroma of BBQ food lures us away from the tranquil water. Eagerly we all make our way to where a traditional Aussie feast awaits. Succulent rib-eye beef; just caught and vibrantly tasty fish and an Aussie staple, finger-licking good lamb chops are just some of the delectable offerings. Topped off with a variety of crisp salads, with zingy and creamy dressings. The excited chatter quickly dies down as everyone indulges in the delicious lunch-time fare.
After lunch there is time to explore the lush surrounds before we are prepared for our flight back to the TRUE NORTH. It has been such an incredibly decadent day, my heart is now soaring; it has been such a feast for all of my senses. I feel so very lucky to have experienced such a stunningly remote location in the company of other like-minded adventure travellers. Now the only question is, when can I do it again?