After leaving Ellenbrae Station our next big stop was Mitchell Falls, but that was still 400 km away. Our plan was to stay for a night at Drysdale River Station, and next day, leave the trailer and go only with the car to Mitchell Falls.
In the morning, before hitting the Gibb River Road, we also had to refuel using diesel from the canisters and seal the door in the trailer, because despite our efforts dust constantly gets inside.
We also left Gibb River Rd today and discovered that Kalumburu Road is in much worse condition. The corrugations on the road were gigantic!
On top of that, you have to add dust that rises from under the wheels of passing cars. It gets everywhere and we have it in our throats, in a car, in a trailer but we had to get used to it, there was no other way.
Drysdale River Station
After a stressful ride we finally arrived at Drysdale River Station – a great outback place! We could drink beer, eat fries, or a huge aussie burger with beetroot, egg and pineapple or chat with the locals.
We found a shady spot and took some time to catch our breaths after the vibrations. We also laugh that Marius has just acquired experience to work with a jackhammer.
What was worth noting – the light indicator got loose again. We were only able to save one screw and the other was lost. That’s it, a wire to the rescue. Exactly as we planned yesterday. Simple methods are the most effective.
We also did a quick trip to the Miners Pool. It turned out to be a very nicely situated bush camping by the river. Marius had the opportunity to do some fishing, as the river is free of crocodiles. He caught nothing, just lost a lure wrapped around the sunken stump.
Recommended equipment for Kalamburu Road and Mitchell Falls Track
- GPS Navigator or compass
- Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction
- Tyre Deflator – deflate tyres quickly when going on dirt or 4WD
- Air Compressor – inflate tyres quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)
- Tyre Repair Kit – to fix the tyre by yourself when you don’t have access to the tyre shop (we use Oztrail)
- Shovel – if you get bogged, better have it
- UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
- Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
- High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
- Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places
- Additional fuel canisters
I went to call from a public phone locked in the old fridge. Yep, a fridge! From the moment we started our adventure on Gibb River Rd, we had a new routine in place – tightening all screws every day (or we lose them).
Today we also checked both refrigerators (3 eggs lost their lives after shaking up on the road). We were also told not to forget to tighten the oil cap on the underside of the car. Great – welcome to Drysdale River Station and daily off-road routine.
Mitchell Plateau Track - biggest corrugations we have seen
Next day we planned to go to the famous Mitchell Falls. It was a 100 km drive on Kalumburu Road and another 85 km on Mitchell Falls Track.
We decided to leave the trailer in Drysdale River Station for three days. There was no point in towing it as we knew the road is in a bad condition.
We left at sunrise. As I mentioned Kalumburu Rd is a pain to drive but that was nothing. We realised that after turning to the unserviced Mitchell Plateau Track. There was no single section on this track without corrugation.
We stopped for a break at the King Edward River Campground. It is beautifully located among the brown rocks and meandering King Edward River. We liked this spot so much that we decided to spend a night there on our way back to Drysdale River. It was still an 80 km drive to Mitchell Falls.
The dirt track was a real challenge. In fact, the corrugations were so big that we could easily break suspensions if we drove at a speed below 70 km/hour. The only better option was to drive at a 80 km/hour speed and keep momentum.
Saying that it was hard to keep the momentum because the road winds constantly pulled us to the left and right and keeping the speed was a real challenge.
Mitchell Plateau Track is a narrow dirt track. At the beginning there is a sign informing people with brave hearts and strong cars that the trail is not serviced and everything is possible. I can tell one thing – imagine it’s rough and uneven and multiply it by two, and in some parts by three.
We did not have much choice. We wanted to see the most spectacular waterfalls in Australia and the only way to get there (not counting a flight over the falls) was to drive the corrugated roads.
Marius cursed constantly and moaned that Gibb River Rd was a breeze compared to what he was seeing.
Mitchell Falls Campground
Mitchell Falls campground is located approximately 3 km from the waterfalls. It took us about 4.5 hours to drive 185 km to get there. I had enough.
Marius was still pumped and demanded a campfire. Woodfire cannot be collected in the park, so the situation was complicated. We weren’t keen to go back on the track. Fortunately, where we set up, there were two long leftover pieces of wood from the previous day and a few small sticks. That was enough for us to have a small fire for a few hours.
In the evening, we turned on the generator to recharge the batteries for the camera and Nell was delighted that she could finally watch Winnie for the thousandth time.
At night we were visited by a dingo. I saw him walking around our camp at dusk, but when I started to growl he went away. It was quite small and had no friends, so I was brave to do it.
The dingo came back after a few hours at night and chewed on our washer which we recklessly left outside. We managed to put away everything else.
Maybe it’s good that we left that dishwasher rug, because the next day we found out that he really loves to sink his teeth into electric wires, and we had an extension cord outside.
Mitchell Falls - great walk and spectacular views
We got up at sunrise and quickly folded the tent, so we could be on the trail to Mitchell Falls as early as possible. The sun was very strong as we were about 400 meters above sea level and at noon it is very hard to walk.
The walking trail was beautiful. First, after 800 meters, we reached a small waterfall with a monitor basking on the stones. It didn’t care much about our presence and let Marius and Nell soak their feet literally a meter from him.
Then, we walked through the grassy areas. It was already scorching hot, but it was only 9 am. Next we saw two places with aboriginal paintings. Soon after I noticed a pond with beautiful lilies and the trail started climbing up the stones to reach a breathtaking gorge.
After some time, we noticed we were really standing on top of the really spectacular waterfall called Millstream Falls. We appreciated its full glory from the helicopter, later on.
Then, after a short walk, we reached the highest pool of Mitchell Falls. The water poured in with a great force, but due to the unstable rocks, we were unable to get any closer.
Then, we had to cross the water and we were finally at the top. We could see the waterfall from the right side. Well, we finally found our best waterfalls in the whole Australia!
In fact, it is worth shaking the 500 km (both ways) on the bumpy road to see it.
Flying back from Mitchell Falls
Yesterday after our arrival we booked our return trip from Mitchell Falls via helicopter.
The flight to the car was very short – it took us only 6 minutes. Marius was very hesitant when he saw that the helicopter has no doors and he would be protected only by the seatbelts.
I love helicopter rides and this one was no different. I enjoyed every short minute of flight!
Night at King Edward River
As planned, we spent a night at the King Edward River. The sun had set and everything was turning purple-pink. The campfire was on, and we looked at darkening contours of the river. What an amazing place.
We got up before sunrise. I quickly ran to the river to take a few photos. I made it, the sun just popped out from behind the trees! The air was damp, and dew had settled on the car and tent.
Aboriginal Paintings on Mitchell Plateau
On the way back, we saw Aboriginal paintings located right next to the river. The painted faces looked like aliens! Black, enormous eyes left goose bumps on my arms.
The way back did not seem so uneven, so I think we are getting used to road conditions and our level of tolerance has increased when it comes to the track surface.
After returning to Drysdale River Station, we found the trailer in perfect condition, so went for a well-deserved burger and fries.
Breathtaking flight over Kimberley Plateau
Today, early in the morning I took a 2 hour flight to the coast and back. If you ever come here you should do it. It was just unreal. There is so many great views in this region only accessible from the air and sometimes from the water.
Kimberley is so huge and isolated, so there are no roads or tracks to many amazing places. The only way to see them is to jump to a ‘light aircraft’ and you can see it all up close.
We flew from Drysdale via Mt Russ, Mt Hann, King Cascade, St George Basin, Mt Trafalgar, Prince Frederick Harbour, up to Mitchell Falls. What a view!
Unfortunately, the photos I took cannot truly show these spaces and their beauty. It was early in the morning and the air had a slight haze, but some photos still turned out to be phenomenal!
Mt Trafalgar and Mt Waterloo in the background just hit the mark. I was able to sit by the pilot (thanks to my good reflex putting my hand up) and had a fantastic view of the spaces around us.
Along the way, I learned many interesting things. For example, you can rent a yacht and sail in these beautiful waters for ‘only’ $60,000 A DAY.
The pilot told us that people breed livestock here, but it’s not a very lucrative business and they have to do other things as well.
For instance, the owner of the Drysdale River Station keeps Gibb River Rd in good condition during the dry season and hasn’t been home for two months.
Part of his income comes from tourism and a gas station. They also breed cows, as I mentioned, but they haven’t checked on them for 2 years and they don’t know how many they currently have!
Muster in Australia
In Australia cattle walks loosely. Drysdale River station is over 400 hectares and the only indication of ownership of the cow is a mark on its back. If there is no such mark, it means that the cow is wild and can be shot, or caught and be marked.
Cows don’t live in barns like in Europe. In order to count or catch them people have to get in a helicopter and look for them. It is called muster and can be done with horses, dogs, 4WD, and helicopters.
The muster is done once a year at the end of the dry season when water level is low and all animals gather near the water source.
Interestingly, the cattle here are only for meat, but not for Australian markets, because their meat is too tough. All transports go to the Asian market and Indonesia. Okay, enough about the cow subject.
Our latest travel progress
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This is simple. When you arrive at Mitchell Falls Campground you can book it there. The flight back from Mitchell Falls takes only 7 minutes.
Another interesting walk is Surveyors Pool. It is located 32 km from the Mitchell Plateau Airstrip with the turn off at about 20 km along the Port Warrender Road. Then, it is a 2 km walk to the pool and falls. It is really worth it if you don’t mind driving more on the corrugated track.
There is no golden solution. When driving on a corrugated road for a long time it is very possible some screws will unscrew so when you arrive at your destination always check the crucial parts of the car like: roof tent, roof rack back lights, antenna etc.
There were instances people have lost the entire roof rack as they did not bother to check it.