Horizontal Falls accident: The ‘thrilling’ Kimberley jet boat ride that went wrong

The West Australian
A jet boat at Horizontal Falls.
Camera IconA jet boat at Horizontal Falls. Credit: YouTube

A boat tour through Horizontal Falls is one of the great thrill rides of WA.

For about $1000, Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures offer tourists a scenic flight from Broome, an “exhilarating ride through the Horizontal Falls on one of fastest boats in the Kimberley” and a “cruise through the spectacular bays and untouched creek systems of Talbot Bay”.

It is believed that’s what tourists were doing on Friday morning when their boat capsized in the water of Talbot Bay, leaving up to 25 people injured.

The tour operator hints at the looming dangers of Mother Nature.

“The incredible tidal power of the Horizontal Falls is one to be marvelled at,” the company wrote on Facebook.

The Falls are a stunning natural wonder, but not without danger, as fast-moving tidal current squeezes between two narrow gorges of the McLarty Range - 250km east of Broome.

Details are few and far between of what precisely capsized the boat on Friday.

But footage on YouTube, posted by All 4 Adventure, may offer crucial clues.

“Going in, that’s the easy part - it’s not too bad,” the boat driver says as he nervously eyes the bottleneck.

“But going back out, that’s where she really stands on its head.

“The problem is you’ve got this massive volume of water trying to force its way through.

“The water comes up and spins around like this, and if we get something coming from the side, tip us on our side, and then if we cut that water - boom - it’s all over.

“The force of the water will roll us and that’ll be the end of it, we’ll be swimming.”

The powerful tides in the Kimberley can reach more than 10 metres and the direction of the flow reverses, meaning the water flows two different ways each day.

The waterfall is not accessible by vehicle.

Reviews on TripAdvisor painted a picture of an adrenaline junkie’s dream, with a thrilling high-speed ride through the falls.

“We got to do lots of donuts in the jet boat after going through the gap and it was so much fun,” wrote one tourist.

“Raging through the Horizontal Falls not once but six times was exhilarating and loads of fun with our young skipper always in complete control,” added another.

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