In this unique tropical expedition, you will delve into the Northern Australian and Papua’s indigenous community, culture, and traditions. Embark on this incredible trip from Darwin and sail to the Tiwi Islands, where you will interact with the Saltwater Tiwi people and discover their renowned wooden carvings. Continue to discover the Yirrkala community and their Aboriginal artists until you get to the legendary Asmat tribes in Western New Guinea. Here you will learn about their lives, customs, spirituality and art. The expedition into Northern Australia and Papua will take you on a journey like no other, guaranteed to be unforgettable.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Lapérouse ship, part of the Explorers fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Trip highlights

Get in one of our Zodiac® and visit the shores with a team of experienced guides.

Discover the culture, traditions, and art of the indigenous people of Northern Australian and Papua.

Enjoy cultural performances and traditional ceremonies in several remote Aboriginal communities.

Experience Northern Australia and Papua alongside a National Geographic Photographer and Expert, who are specialised in the destination.

Itinerary - 11 Days


Start your adventure in Darwin, the capital city and the most populated town of the Northern Territory in Australia. Darwin is a very special tropical city, with a great mix of people and cultures who live and work side by side. The city prides itself in its unique and friendly laid-back lifestyle. Discover the tropical architecture of the new Parliament House and the Admiralty House. You will also enjoy the bustling waterfront on the Timor Sea.


The Tiwi Islands are a very special place located where the Arafura Sea joins the Timor Sea. They comprise two main islands and nine smaller uninhabited islands. For centuries, Indigenous Australians have occupied the Tiwi Islands. You will discover the Wurrumiyanga culture in depth, with its famous Pukamani (wooden funeral posts with geometric hand carved patterns) and outstanding paintings on canvas, and attending one dance performance relating to the story of the Tiwi people.


Le Laperouse is an innovative and environmentally-friendly ship featuring elegantly designed staterooms, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside. This newly designed cruise ship embodies a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort that will offer you a truly unique cruising experience. This day at sea will give you the chance to explore the ship and enjoy all the services and activities on board.


Elcho Island, also known as Galiwinku, is home to almost 3000 Aboriginal people, members of the hyper-cerebral Yolngu group of clans. It is a place of lush natural beauty: the curving beaches are surrounded by deep-red cliffs; the forests of acacia and stringybark stretch away. There’s also a large community of artists that produce a wide range of traditional craft and fine artworks.


Follow the red sand paths along the shoreline surrounded by gum trees to arrive to the dwellings inhabited by the indigenous communities of Yirrkala. In there, you can discover their unique art and culture at the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka art centre, where you can admire a wide selection of local artwork. Don’t miss the chance of hearing musicians playing the yidaki – a traditional wooden didgeridoo –, or to attend a demonstration of ritual dancing. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to some of the propitiatory ceremonies practiced by this community.


During this day at sea aboard Le Lapérouse you’ll have a unique, intimate and comfortable experience. Be tempted by the swimming pool, the great conferences or shows going on, do some boutique shopping or simply enjoy the views from the upper deck.


Western New Guinea (once known as Irian Jaya) is one of the most remote and mysterious regions of the planet. Even today, there are at least 44 tribes that have never had contact with the outside world. The Asmat region, in the south-west corner of the island, is well-known as the realm of head-hunters and cannibals and it maintains its ancient traditions. Start your expedition of the area with a Zodiac® transfer to Syuru village, where you will be met by a multitude of Asmat warrior canoes. Once ashore, enjoy a traditional ceremony among the traditional people of the area.

8-10 AT SEA

Enjoy the wide array of activities and entertainment on board during this day at sea. From treating yourself in the spa to exercising in the fitness centre or having a swim in the swimming pool, there’s a choice for everyone. You can also enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, or simply visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.


Located in the northeast coast of Australia, the harbour town of Cairns will be your last stop. Walk through the seafront esplanade, swim in its Coral Sea waters or picnic under the shade of a palm tree. The hills surrounding Cairns form the gateway to the Queensland Rainforests, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site for their fauna and flora from the Gondwana era.

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