If you’re honeymooning at home this year, put the TRUE NORTH cruise experience on your list for some seriously rockstar moments that will take you to the very best of our backyard.
It’s 4pm in the Margaret River wine region, we’ve spent the afternoon wine tasting and it’s time to head home for the night. We’re not hopping in the car though, instead we’re climbing into a helicopter, and ‘home’ for the night is a 50 metre luxury yacht called TRUE NORTH. There’s no negotiating over who is drinking and who is driving, instead we’re both quite merry and the pilot is 100% sober, as we zip over vineyards, supersized houses and pristine coastline, hovering over Eagle Bay before gently setting down aboard the yacht’s helipad. It’s absolute Rockstar territory for the afternoon, but when you’re sailing with TRUE NORTH, it’s just another day aboard.
Image via TRUE NORTH
Why? TRUE NORTH has its very own helicopter, hitching a ride atop the helipad for most of the yearly sailings around the Kimberley coast, up to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, then over to the East Coast for New Year’s Eve. Due to border closures, TRUE NORTH is likely to spend this year, like last year, inside Australian waters, which is how we ended up on a special itinerary cruising Western Australia’s South West coast from Esperance, alongside the Margaret River region and up to Perth.
Our trip begins with a chartered flight from Perth to Esperance with thirty fellow passengers. That’s right, there’s only 18 cabins on board, and it’s all about getting out on the water, experiencing the great outdoors, and doing it in style. Welcome drinks in the bar lounge, a quick tour of the yacht and our cabin and we’re on our way. Over nine nights we’ll track along the coastline, heading west before ducking around Cape Leeuwin and up the Margaret River region’s coast, popping over to Rottnest Island for a day before docking in Fremantle.
Images: Lisa Perkovic
On our first full day aboard, we’re up early and whisked off to one of Cape Le Grand National Park’s pristine beaches. Many of these postcard perfect strips of silica white sand are only accessible by boat, and so we’ve got a beach to ourselves. We head back aboard for lunch, Moroccan salad with harissa yoghurt and chicken, and a glass of local WA rosé from Alkoomi Wines in the Frankland River. The wine gives me a little bit of courage to step, or I should say swim, outside my comfort zone, as we hop in a tender to swim with seals in Doubtful Island Bay. TRUE NORTH’s Naturalist Nat brings the tender right in close, and our Snorkel Guide Shaun jumps in the water first to ‘check out how friendly the seals are feeling today’, which I’m very happy to let him do. The water is crystal clear, I can see the bottom without my snorkel, so plucking up my courage and keeping Shaun at my side at all times, I’m soon watching New Zealand fur seals and one very friendly Australian Sea Lion underwater. They swim past our small group of snorkellers with their eyes as wide saucers, twisting and twirling in the water to get a good luck at us. They seem just as excited to see us as we them. Shaun and a few of the snorkellers head over to the rocks to collect fresh abalone before we clamber back aboard. It all takes about twenty minutes, and we’re soon zipping back around to TRUE NORTH. Later, the crew will set up a BBQ on the beach, with camp chairs and a portable bar to keep us comfortable. The abalone are cooked up and served with a squeeze of lemon, washed down with Pimm’s cocktails served in Yeti cooler cups that keep the sand out and the drinks icy. Dinner, back aboard, is fresh fish if the passengers’ catch is good, or crispy pork belly with Asian ginger salad, zaatar crusted lamb cutlets or braised beef cheeks, and some top-notch red from another local Margaret River winery Moss Wood Wines. There’s simply no way you’d go hungry or be bored, because over the next week each day is like this, offering some version of adventure, down time, great food and excellent wine.
Images: Lisa Perkovic
How do they fit it all in? There are six tenders on board, and with such a small passenger count (36maximum) means you can zip off for an early morning fishing expedition while your special someone heads out on a nature walk, or go for a scenic sightsee together along the coast. And then of course, there’s the helicopter, which runs daily flights to different local landmarks. We land in the shadow of the lighthouse on blustery but beautiful Breakaway Island off the coast of Albany, while others fly off for a birds eye view of Lake Hillier’s pink surface.
Image via TRUE NORTH
There’s nothing that’s too much trouble for the crew, with the captain customising the itinerary based on the weather forecast down to the hour. He swaps the days we’ll visit Rottnest and Rockingham so that the morning of our dolphin swim in Cockburn Sound dawns bright and calm, with the water like a pond, and we get one of the best swims of the season, floating above the dolphins as they frolic below. And when the weather gets unavoidably rough, our Cruise Director Hannah has a handy supply of sea sickness tablets that are handed out at dinner to help stave off the worst of it. I spend a few hours on the bow of the ship as we go straight into the wind and over the waves, with a blanket from down below and a hot chocolate from the bar to keep me warm. It’s windy and wild but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Image: Lisa Perkovic
For couples who like adventure, want to get out and see Australia without roughing it, the TRUE NORTH cruise experience is a seriously luxe way to do it. The adventure vessel is famous for its Kimberley Coast season, when it cruises up and down the coast from March through to October, its shallow draft custom built to allow it to navigate the narrow waterways. There’s an endless array of bucket list items to tick off on the two week Kimberley Ultimate – pop your head under the King George Falls as the bow ducks under the waterfall, head out on a sunrise fishing trip to start the day with a hefty catch or take the helicopter up to a deserted cliff for a sunset picnic.
Whether it’s watching wildlife up close, seeing our great backyard in all its beauty, fine wine and excellent food or just some epic fishing, the TRUE NORTH cruise experience is for honeymooners looking to do it all.
Header image by TRUE NORTH
About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.