Australia’s pioneering cruise line Coral Expeditions has completed its much-anticipated Circumnavigation of Australia which departed Cairns on 17 October 2022 onboard flagship vessel Coral Adventurer.

The sold-out voyage was a once-in-a-lifetime exploration of the vast and diverse coastal landscape of Australia with guests and crew sharing experiences ranging from encounters with endemic marine and terrestrial nature and fauna, cultural connections with remote communities, discovering dramatic coastal and tidal landscapes and learning of the rich heritage of destinations along the way.

Coral Expeditions Commercial Director Jeff Gillies says guests and crew were excited and grateful to have experienced the landmark expedition.

“This voyage was the largest undertaking in our company history and involved an enormous amount of planning from our team and a huge commitment from our guests. It was an adventure for the ages”,” he says.

The expedition was led by several key crew including Master Matthew Fryer, Expedition Leaders Cara Cavanagh and Alistair Kent and Purser Zach Romaine who were onboard through the full voyage. Along the way, special guests joined sectors to add expert guidance and insights in the key regions.

The Ship’s Master

Mr Fryer says it was the largest navigational undertaking in Coral Expeditions’ history, chalking up more than 8500 nautical miles on the passage, with no other modern line developing such an extensive coastal voyage.

Coral Adventurer visited several ports for her first time, receiving plaques and meeting senior community leaders from the ports of Eden, Batemans Bay, Sydney, and Trial Bay.

Asked if he had any standout highlights as the Master, Mr Fryer says “Cruising down the west coast of Tasmania was a special experience, the rugged coastline was on full display with the Southern Ocean breaking heavily on the rocky cliffs and foreshore.  At dinner time we cruised in close to the stunning Maatsuyker Island group and the last of the evening light coupled with the majestic scenery of this remote edge of the world will last with me forever.

“Arrival at daybreak into Sydney Harbour was another highlight. Many of the guests were on the bridge and there was an excited energy among them. Sydney Harbour was a glass out and we felt a real sense of pride to be there on our inaugural port call.

“Taking an Australian ship on a circumnavigation of this great country and being able to cruise into the most iconic port in Australia was definitely a privilege for me. The occasion was enhanced by seeing the guests’ reaction to this special part of the voyage.

“Some of small towns that we visited were real hidden gems.  The warm welcome that we received from the townships of Robe, Port Fairy, Eden, Batemans Bay and South West Rocks was so genuine. After some poor sentiment about cruise ships over the past couple of years it was wonderful to see these towns embrace our guests with open arms.”

The Purser

 Coral Adventurer Purser Zach Romaine describes the journey as an “intimate exploration of the Australian coastline for both guests and crew”.

“The hospitality team onboard delivered a smooth operation throughout many regions across Australia on our 59-day voyage. From serving champagne at the tip of Australia, a barbecue service on our Vista Deck in the Great Barrier Reef, brunch on board in Darwin prior to guests flying to Uluru for the day to sunset drinks with the views of Sydney Harbour,” he says.

“The hospitality team finished off the voyage by delivering a beach barbecue dinner on Dunk Island. Guests were involved in many special events and experiences along our smooth sailing across the Australian Coast.

“I personally have sailed across the entire coast of Australia prior to this voyage, however, to do this in one trip with such a thriving onboard crew was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was a fantastic experience for both crew and guests with memories that will last a lifetime.”

 The Expedition Leader

 Coral Adventurer Expedition Leader Cara Cavanagh says Turquoise Bay along the western side of North West Cape was a special part of the trip.

“Due to the relatively high visitation to this site, the colourful reef fish are quite tame and easily approached. Highlights were parrot fish, angel fish, sweetlips and triggerfish,” she says.

“After drying off, we continued on the bus to Yardie Creek National Park where we had lunch under several casuarina trees occupied by many screeding Little Corellas.

“Our new guest lecturer Howard Gray accompanied us on a walk along Yardie Creek to a gorge a few hundred metres inland. Along the way we saw a pair of ospreys, more corella and a colony of black flying fox in the mangroves as well as several arid zone plants.”

The Documentarian

Expedition Documentarian Craig Berkman, whose footage will become part of a television documentary in 2023, says the journey was a visual feast.

“At Cape Peron down the west coast and at Shark Bay the red sand dunes and cliffs were spectacular. In Queensland, going to Ashmore Reef was pretty amazing. When we talk about colours, the coral everywhere was spectacular as was cruising into Sydney Harbour. It was certainly a spectacle and it lived up to the brochures,” he says.

“Some of the colour in the Torres Strait was amazing. We had a traditional owner with us at that stage and he was able to point out his ancestor’s paintings. There were images of sailing ships so there was this historical record.”