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The Top End & Cape York by Luxury Yacht

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Darwin
  • Bathurst Island
  • Mt Borradaile
  • Victoria Settlement
  • Gulgari Rip
  • Thursday Island
  • Cape York
  • Lizard Island
  • Cooktown
  • Cairns

13 Days Expedition Voyage
  • Departing:
  • 27 Sep 2025 New release

Discover rarely visited parts of Australia on an expedition cruise to Arnhem Land, the Top End and Far North Queensland. Just 28 guests will encounter rich Indigenous culture, explore lush tropical islands, and stand at the continent’s most northerly point. The Paspaley Pearl, with its sleek lines, sumptuous dining, and chic suites and staterooms, is your passport to an exclusive and thrilling adventure. Image: Tourism Australia.


This afternoon, we embark the Paspaley Pearl in Darwin. Meet your fellow guests and Tour Host Team over cocktails and a Welcome Dinner aboard the ship.

After making the short passage across Beagle Gulf, we arrive on Bathurst Island, part of the Tiwi Islands. Spend time among the local Nguiu community and gain an appreciation for their traditional crafts, which include weaving and painting. Witness a Welcome to Country ceremony before adjourning to the Old Church. Then obtain insights into the Dreaming during visits to the island’s cultural sites. We return to our vessel for lunch, before setting sail for West Arnhem Land. Dine out on the deck this evening, enjoying the warm tropical breezes.

We embark Zodiacs and head for the shore. At a remote airstrip at Vashon Head, we then board small aircraft, which see us bound for Mt Borradaile. On arrival at Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari Lodge, our hosts take us out in 4WD vehicles to nearby Cooper Creek Billabong. From here, we join a cruise, keeping watch for crocodiles and plentiful birdlife. Reaching the shore, the option to walk to the base of Mt Borradaile is presented. Here, some striking examples of Indigenous rock art can be viewed. Although the walk from the boat is only about 800 metres, the terrain can be rather uneven, so you are also welcome to remain with the boat and explore the billabong further in the meantime. Lunch is enjoyed back at the lodge. 

This afternoon, we are brought to the area’s best-known site, the Rainbow Serpent, an incredible example of Indigenous rock art. While here, our guide also points out some of the area’s hearty bush tucker and explains the region’s remarkable geology. Return to Vashon Head later this afternoon, where waiting Zodiacs facilitate our re-embarkation of Paspaley Pearl. Dinner is served aboard the ship as we anticipate tomorrow’s adventures.

Enjoy breakfast aboard the ship as we venture to Port Essington. At nearby Victoria Settlement, on the Cobourg Peninsula, we see the remnants of one of the territory’s first non-Indigenous outposts. The settlement was located in what is now known as Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, a remote region boasting white sandy beaches and fiery red cliffs. Enjoy lunch back aboard Paspaley Pearl, with a free afternoon to soak in the sea views at leisure.

Our morning is again free to spend as we please. Unwind in your cabin, or up on deck, taking in the sights of our remarkable surroundings. Or perhaps join a lecture, presented by a member of our Expedition Team. We continue our easterly cruise, soon to arrive in East Arnhem Land. Here, we join our Expedition Team aboard Zodiacs to navigate the Gulgari Rip. Also known as The Hole in the Wall, the rip is a straight and narrow passage of water that lies between Guluwuru and Raragala islands. During our cruise, we’re offered spectacular views of rock walls and native vegetation either side of the rip.

Relax in the lounge, catch up on some reading, or mingle with your fellow guests as we approach Yirrkala. Here we learn about the community’s connection to the origins of the didgeridoo. The remote town is also home to a number of talented Aboriginal artists, whose bark paintings are found in galleries around the globe. We may see examples of the art form at Yirrkala’s Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre. Rejoin our ship this afternoon, enjoying dinner aboard, before retiring to your comfortable cabin.

Relax during a day at sea, as we cross the Gulf of Carpentaria. Learn more about the adventures to come during an onboard lecture. You may also like to enjoy a drink in the lounge or head out to the deck for exceptional coastal views, as we approach the shores of Queensland.

After breakfast this morning, disembark our vessel in Weipa and join a Your World experience:

— Follow remote waterways aboard a boat for an intimate understanding of the ancient history and culture of the region’s Traditional Owners. Along the way, keep watch for saltwater crocodiles and a diversity of birdlife. 

— Traverse the floor of the colossal Weipa Rio Tinto bauxite mine. Hear details of its operations and what it’s like to live in an isolated mining town. Then gain an overview of Weipa’s history, as well as its native flora and fauna. 

Sail the waters of the Arafura Sea, enjoying lunch and dinner aboard Paspaley Pearl. Our northerly cruise brings us gradually to far-flung Thursday Island.

Arrive at Thursday Island, part of the Torres Strait group. See Green Hill Fort, erected in the late 19th century as a defence against a potential Russian invasion. At Thursday Island Cemetery, we appreciate the stark representation of the island’s ethnic make-up during that same period. Here, Pacific Islanders, Torres Strait Islanders, Japanese, Buddhists, and Muslims all lay side by side in their respective and eternal rest. Our travels then bring us to Cape York, the northernmost point of the Australian mainland. Standing at the edge of the continent, glass of bubbly in hand, we gaze out to the Torres Strait once more, as the sun sets on another fascinating day of exploration.

Our vessel navigates the network of reefs that follow the coastline of Far North Queensland. We arrive at Wuthara Island, also known as Forbes Island, and take the opportunity to swim, scuba and snorkel in the turquoise waters that lap at the island’s pristine beaches. After enjoying this remote and tranquil setting, we return to Paspaley Pearl and continue our southerly voyage.

Reaching Lizard Island today, we venture on foot to Cook’s Look, from where Captain James Cook surveyed the area and planned a safe passage through the network of nearby reefs. The island’s highest vantage point provides us with incomparable views of the reefs and surrounding islands. Follow in Cook’s footsteps or perhaps choose to head out on one of the many other walks across the island, which range from easy to difficult. You may prefer to swim or snorkel over the fringing reef during a relaxing afternoon.

Though it may have proven temporary, Cooktown can legitimately claim to being the site of the first non-Indigenous settlement in Australia. After Cook’s Endeavour ran aground here, the navigator and his crew spent seven weeks on the unspoilt patch of land that today bears his name. Journey to Grassy Hill to see the monument dedicated to Cook’s landing. Absorb panoramic views while a local guide tells of Cook’s expedition, including the first recorded sighting of a kangaroo by a European – the honour going to Cook’s botanist, Joseph Banks. Then visit the James Cook Museum. Several remarkable exhibits can be seen here, including an anchor and cannon from the Endeavour.

On our arrival in Cairns, we disembark our ship for the final time. We farewell our Tour Host Team and fellow guests as our rare voyage along the remote coasts of Australia and its islands comes to an end.