After we departed Mt Barnett and took on some much needed fuel we headed for Drysdale River Station. The plan was to head up to the Mitchell Falls before pushing further North up the Kalumbaru Rd toward the Kimberley’s Northern Beaches. Most people choose to leave their trailer at Drysdale but I wasn’t prepared to as the plan was not to come back south adding a couple of hundred extra kilometres. After finishing a burger at the Roadhouse (what is it with roadhouse burgers always being so good?) I spent a bit of time checking everything and the next day we made our push North.
The track up to Mitchell Falls campground is unmaintained and the only roadwork it see’s is the necessary filling in after the Wet Season. This means two thing’s, it’s really rough and it is really slow going! With all the weight we averaged about 15-20km/h and occasionally getting a short stretch of 30 km/h in. If it’s not severe corrugations, it’s big rocks bulging through the surface of the road and just when you think you may be in the clear another section appears. Its also not the widest track out so when it comes time to pass a vehicle it can often be difficult. Nevertheless we made it after roughly 3hrs (it’s roughly 85 km to the top). Once at the campground we watched the Helicopters ferrying people in and out of the falls. We had made the decision that we would complete the 3 km walk in first thing in the morning and enjoy the short but sweet 6min Chopper ride back out. We prepped our day packs and the camera gear ready for the morning, fired up the Weber BBQ in the ‘Northern Explorer’ Trailer and headed off for an early night.
Its cool at night and still hot in the day so walking in the middle of the day was not something we wanted to do, we left at 7 to be picked up by the Helicopter at 12. This allowed plenty of time to complete the walk, take a look down some of the side tracks and see the Aboriginal Rock Art and Explore the falls once we arrived, maybe even have a quick swim! The walk itself is 3 km and estimated to take 3 hours, we easily completed it in under 2 taking various side tracks and stoping for many photo’s. It isn’t a very difficult walk and somebody with a mild level of fitness could easily complete it. I would advise an early start as walking in the middle of the day would not be enjoyable. Along the track you pass Little Merton Falls, Big Merton Falls and then finally arrive at the main attraction Mitchell Falls. It really is a sight to see Mitchell at roughly 80 m high spanning across 4 tiers, truly Mother Nature at her best! There are many spots to get a photo, to get the best as we did you have to do a bit of rock hoping but it is well worth it for the shot (just be careful which rock your foot goes on as you never know which is the next part of the Gorge to crumble in). There is only one thing that can top the spectacular sight of this piece of natural beauty and that’s seeing it from a Helicopter! It gives you the greatest impression of how spectacular this landscape known as The Kimberley is, how small you are and how relentless Mother Nature can be in carving out these rock formations over thousands of years!
By Spinifex Manufacturing
“After returning from Cape York in 2016 I knew my adventures needed an ATV to go that little further than the rest, buying the Quad is the easy part. Building a trailer to carry it, tough enough to follow the Patrol was another story. I sat down with the guys at work and we came up with what would be later called the ‘Northern Explorer’ trailer. Everything you need for the tough remote conditions of the Top End, yet light and agile and just big enough to fit a full size Quad with a small canopy for Fridges and BBQ’s or what have you.
This thing is a weapon, its copped every rock on the inland tracks of Central Australia, smashed its way through the Remotest and harshest parts of The Kimberley and is yet to let me down. The best part is these little beauties will be available through Spinifex Manufacturing in the near future. A compact camper trailer and a toy hauler in one, you don’t have to spend the big bucks to carry your toys through the tough stuff!”
Back by 1pm we made the slow drive down to a nice quiet campsite closer to Kalumbaru Rd, King Edward River. Up the next morning we began our slow drive up to Kalumburu and beyond to the Northern Beaches area of The Kimberley. This road appears to also be unmaintained and without any repairs after the wet there are a number of long bog holes, most have a relatively solid base but a few could land some people in strife without the correct gearing or knowledge of what they’re driving. You would also not want to detour off the road as with the long grass it would almost be certain you would find yourself bogged to the chassis. Slow going and rough as guts is the best description for this road (better yet 4wd track), but if you have the gear and the ability to put up with it then the rewards far out weigh the struggle! When you arrive at Honeymoon Bay you will see why, this place is paradise. Many make the trek just to base themselves here for weeks of fishing. My best advise for this place however is bathe yourself in mozzy repellent, what we can only assume are Midgies will absolutely hammer you. 4 days of discomfort followed our stay, in saying that I reckon it was probably worth it. We spent our time exploring on the Polaris, there is miles of untouched beach and having a quad is the superior way of getting around. The only problem, as Jenn said “it’s so hot and I just want to swim but I can’t because there is Crocodiles, Jelly Fish, Sharks and everything else that wants to eat me!”.
Reluctantly after two days we headed back south, half way through the rough stuff we encountered a Hybrid Camper with a wheel sitting in front of it. This poor bugger had snapped the stub axle clean off the suspension arm! If you plan on getting yourself successfully to the top of the Kimberley it is imperative that you not only know what you are getting yourself into but also how you would get yourself out, should the worst case scenario occur. Remember, if your trailer is your only form of accomodation then you don’t really want to leave your bed on the side of the road- getting a tow truck to this point, unlike the rest of the Gibb could almost be impossible depending completely on road conditions and how willing the driver is to come get you. It could also mean big dollars!
I have a lot of plans for the future involving this region and I can’t wait to get back up there, this time with a tinny as well. Its one of Australia’s true paradises and I strongly suggest you add it to the Kimberley bucket list. There is much more to see well off the Gibb! Beautiful Beaches, awesome views and riding around on a quad bike. My kind of holiday!
Have questions about heading to the Northern Kimberley? Or what it takes to see the magic of Mitchell Falls? Email David@outandbackoffroad.com to ask!