Montgomery Reef, in the Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park on the Kimberley Coast, is one of the most spectacular places in the Kimberley. Covering some 300 square kilometres across the Indian Ocean, Montgomery Reef, or Yowjab in the Dambimangari language seems to rise from the water as the 10 metre tide recedes.
Navigable channels through the reef allow boats to tour the area and view the sea water cascading down the walls of the exposed reef and the lagoons and islets created by the receding waters. The reef was named in 1818 by Philip Parker King after the ship surgeon aboard the Mermaid, Andrew Montgomery.
The marine park is the most important humpback whale nursery in the Southern Hemisphere. Whale species recorded in the marine park include the humpback whale, the minke whale and the false killer whale. From June to November each year humpback whales migrate from their Antarctic feeding grounds to their breeding grounds in the Camden Sound. The warm, shallow waters are ideal for newborn humpback calves that need to build up their insulating blubber layer through feeding, and the shoreline and seafloor provide protection from predators. Up to 20,000 whales may make the annual migration to the Kimberley Coast.
The marine park is also home to six species of threatened marine turtles, Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, dugongs, saltwater crocodiles and several species of sawfish.
Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park is the first marine park to be jointly managed by its traditional owners by the Dambimangari (and other traditional owners where appropriate) and the state government in Western Australia. Lalang-garram is a Worrorra word meaning “the saltwater as a spiritual place as well as a place of natural abundance”.
Montgomery Reef and the Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park may be visited on an extended Kimberley cruise.