In 1820 Phillip Parker King, exploring the Kimberley coast in the good ship Mermaid, came across the mouth of a river. He named it the Prince Regent River after the soon to be King George of Hanover and appropriately enough he named the bay it issues into Hanover Bay. King had been instructed to pay particular attention to any river that might provide a navigable route into the centre of Australia, there was still a strong belief at the time that there might be an inland sea or at least a Mississippi size river to be found. He also needed fresh water.
He recorded in his journal that as his men rowed up the river …
At a distance of 17 miles from St George’s Bank we were surprised by hearing the noise of a fall of water. But distrusting our ears we were not convinced of the fact until an opening in the mangroves exposed to our view a cascade of water 160 feet in breadth falling from a considerable height.
King continued up river until he was satisfied that it didn’t offer access to the inland and collected water on his way back to the Mermaid. The falls are now called the King Cascade.
In fact the river arises not that far away in the Caroline Range. The line of least resistance was a fault line and consequently the Prince Regent River runs a remarkably straight course. The few tributaries that it has, also following fault lines, run in at nice orderly right angles.
It is an idyllic place but do resist the temptation to have a swim at the foot of the falls, estuarine crocodiles are common in the river. In 1987 24-year-old American model Ginger Meadows was taken by a four-metre crocodile at this exact spot. And as we were hearing about this sad event we were watching this guy patrol the water behind the boat …
You can find some thought provoking information from WA Parks about crocodiles <HERE>.