Prince Frederick Harbour,
Kimberley, West Australia.

personal experience...

I have been exploring Prince Frederick Harbour every season since 2004. The best way has been when driving zodiacs off expedition ships.

background

Prince Frederick Harbour is a huge area of islands, monsoon rainforest and mangroves, found along the remote Kimberley coast. The two major rivers that feed into here are the Roe and the Hunter River. It is the latter that provides access into mangroves below steep escarpment country.

wildlife...

Because of its isolation, the ecosystems here are quite pristine, with predators being common, including salt-water crocodiles, and white-bellied sea eagles.

a salt water crocodile (Damon Ramsey)

low tide and high tide

It's fascinating to spend a whole day here and explore the river at the low tide and the high tide extremes of the day. The whole ecosystem changes, from a drowned forest at the high, and steep exposed mud banks at the low. Different wildlife is seen at the different tides.

At high tide, fish come in and swim through the mangrove tree tops. Species include Yellow-tailed Mullet, Pop-eye Mullet, Diamond fish, Batfish, Archer fish, Snub-nosed and other garfish.

At low tide, the expansive mudflats are revealed, and another very different type of fish is revealed. At this time you can see large populations of various mudskippers, including the wonderful 'Blue-spotted Mudskippers'...

a blue spotted mudskipper with an erection. Of it's dorsal fin. (Damon Ramsey)

There are other marine invertebrates, including jellyfish (moving up the creek) various crustaceans, such as mud crabs, broad-fronted mangrove crabs (with purple carapace), and several species of fiddler crabs (the bright red flame fiddlers and others) ...

a flame fiddler crab (Damon Ramsey)

birds...

The small creeks in the mangroves off Porosus Creek at high tide in the morning are good for various small and hard to see birds, including Collared, Sacred Kingfisher...

Collared Kingfisher (Damon Ramsey)

Azure Kingfisher,

the stunning but very small Azure Kingfisher (Damon Ramsey)

Red-headed Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Yellow White-eyes, Mangrove Robin (with a mournful double descending whistle),White-breasted Whistler and Mangrove Golden Whistler (both with enthusiastic and familiar whip like calls), Mangrove Grey Fantail (looks very similar to the Grey Fantail). These last 5 birds are hard to find species that are pretty much endemic to mangroves.

There are also the usual larger birds of the mangroves and shore, including: Great, Intermediate, Little, and Eastern Reef Egrets, Great-billed Heron...

a Great-billed Heron (Damon Ramsey)

and Mangrove (striated) Heron...

birds of prey such as Osprey, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea-eagle...

a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles (Damon Ramsey)

History

This area was surveyed by Philip Parker King in 1820 on board the Mermaid. There are several islands, such as Naturalist Island and Boongaree island, the latter named after the Aboriginal on board of the same name who had also sailed with Mathew Flinders. Philip Parker King named the Hunter River after the surgeon on board, and several other landmarks such as 'Indian Head' and the the 'Nine Pins'.

access:

There are several companies that visit the region. Many come here to utilize Naturalist Island and the beach to take helicopter rides up to the Mitchell Plateau. While this is going on, some of the expedition cruise style companies explore the rivers in their tenders. For example, Coral Princess Cruises will often do their fishing tours here, and an early morning bird cruise,while Lindblad, APT, Noble Caledonia and Silver Seas expeditions will have their zodiacs going out to look for crocodiles & other wildlife on the mud bank. These companies usually go up the Hunter River, and will frequently search the banks of Porosus Creek,and there is some expansive mudflats here and a good crocodile population.

a croc having a sneaky peek (Damon Ramsey)