“One of the greatest wonders of the natural world”
One of the icons of the Kimberley coast, the Horizontal Waterfalls are a pair of stunning breaks in the McLarty Range approximtely 300m apart. The McLarty range itself is approximately 1.8 billion years old, comprised of sandstone, quartzite, siltstone, shale and dolomite with abundant stromatolites. The first and more seaward of the gaps is approximatley 25m wide, whilst the second and more spectacular gap is approximately 12.5 wide. One of the premier tourist attractions of the West Kimberley, the Horizontal Waterfalls attract tens of thousands of visitors annually by seaplane from Broome and Derby, on charter boats and in private vessels.
With massive tidal differences of up to 10.8m on a spring tide in Talbot Bay, the Horizontal Waterfalls (technically termed “pinch rapids”) are a natural phenomenon created as seawater builds up faster on one side of the gaps than the other, creating a waterfall up to 5m high on a King tide. With each change of tide the direction of the fall reverses, creating vast tidal whirlpools on the outgoing side. Poulton Creek, which features a healthy mangrove system, feeds into the innermost reservoir, “The Inland Sea”, contributing an inundation of freshwater to the marine environment.
At low tide, a large sandbank is exposed between the gaps, with coral bombies emerging near the walls of the falls. Crocodiles are not uncommon.
Pegasus Metals are planning to mine a strike zone for copper adjacent to the Horizontal Waterfalls Marine Park.
In 2013, the Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, announced that the Horizontal Waterfalls would become part of a new Kimberley Marine Park.