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Three times larger than England and with a population of fewer than 40,000, the Kimberley region – spread over Australia’s entire north-western corner – is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. We embarked out of Darwin on the expedition ship Coral Geographer, a brand new ship designed to traverse the waters of this remote and desolate area. 

The next two weeks of our around-the-world sojourn would take us first to amazing waterfalls, some only accessible via helicopter, to some of the world’s largest tides, witnessing the rise of the Montgomery Reef from its 35 vertical foot tidal change to running the rapids in the Horizontal Falls, a narrow gap in the rocks where the huge tides rush through. We also got to visit ancient aboriginal rock galleries, with some of the paintings 5000 or more years old. 

OMG, I have Covid ….. 

In April of 2023, the maritime laws of Australia still had not lifted the COVID testing requirement to board a ship. You had to test 24 hours before time and another administered at the dock before boarding. Stressful for all, since thousands of dollars were at stake if you tested positive because you were not allowed to board. 

Strangely and luckily, we had managed to go through the entire pandemic without ever taking a COVID test, let alone a self-test, so we purchased tests before we left to be used on our day before testing. We arrived in Darwin, the departure port, and had a hotel room for the night before. We read and re-read the instructions, having never done it before, fumbling with the tubes, liquid and nasal swabs. Then we waited. 

I could not take my eyes off my test and soon the bar appeared next to the ‘C’. I screamed in panic to my wife : “ OMG, I have COVID.. The ‘C’ bar is showing!! C for COVID !  My wife looked at me…”You Idiot, the C stands for control…”

“Oh… we’re  good then….” I answered sheepishly and a tad embarrassed. 

We were good to go, but two people did test positive at the dock and were not allowed to board. 

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