Mitchell (helicopter) Falls

About 100km north of Drysdale River Station along the Kalumburu road is the turnoff to Mitchell Falls.    After spending a night at the lovely Munurru campsite on the King Edward River near this turnoff, we left the caravan there and headed 75km west along the hideously corrugated Port Warrender road on a day trip to Mitchell Falls.

wyndham to kalumburu

Mitchell Falls is one of the icons of the Kimberley region consisting of 4 tiers of falls dropping off the plateau into a gorge below.   The falls are certainly impressive – even after one of the worst wet seasons on record.    They lie at the end of a 4.5 km one way walk from the car park so most people take helicopter trip which drops them at the top of the falls for a while.   With growing numbers of visitors, the operation has become quite a circus with 3 helicopters almost continuously ferrying people back and forth (and it looks like up to 5 are on hand for when it gets real busy).    One can either treat the helicopters as part of the spectacle or consider them an annoying din, but we knew what to expect so went with the right mindset.   Also the helicopters operated as a group, so there were occasional periods where there was some silence.

The unpleasant corrugations of the Port Warrender Road were somewhat offset by the beautiful Livisonia eastonii palms

The start of the trail to the falls is marked with a sign that grossly overstates the time needed to do the walk – maybe to help the helicopter business!

Some birds seen along the walk – Rainbow Bee-eater, Broad-billed Flycatcher and variegated fairy wren.

Aerial photo map of the trail and falls area.   The classic view is from the cliff on the north side of the big lake near the upper red caution marker.    The trail itself was actually quite straightforward and well marked by these posts with starbucks coffee mugs on them.

cute water plants
nice water plants in Mertens Creek along the trail 
upper mitchell falls
Panorama from the top of the falls.  Upper pool and the first tier on the left and the pools between the lower tiers on the right
top pool mitchell falls
View from the top of the falls
dngerous river crossig
No good Aussie walk is complete without a good smattering of warning signs.
Mitchell falls bottom
Panorama from the classic view point
tea at mitchell falss
Lunch spot at the falls.    Brochure photos of the falls in the wet season show the falls as one continuous cascade

Around the falls and swimming at the top pool

three choppers
Helicopter mayhem – dropping people off at the top of the falls.    The TV travel shows make it seem like you will be dropped off alone at the top of the falls with picnic to enjoy in peace and solitude.   The reality is that you will be one of hundreds of visitors per day.

After enjoying the views followed by lunch and swimming in the pools above the falls we walked back to the car stopping off for another dip in a pool along Merten’s Creek where there was some good aboriginal art on the surrounding cliffs

After a long day it was then 2 hours back to our camp on the King Edward River, a beautiful serene spot we will mention in the next post.  There is a cramped dusty campsite near Mitchell Falls at the start of the walk, but we would trade the dust and chopper noise for the two hour drive any day.

The road back was not only corrugated,  it also had some steep windy bits.  However like the signs at the start of the walk this one was also over stating things a bit.

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