Monday, May 12, 2014

Camping Trip to Mitchell Falls

 Mitchell Falls is one place we never got to last time we were in The Kimberley and one that I was still keen to see.  It was hard work finding out any information about the conditions of the road to get to Mitchell Falls.  We had heard that the road was open, but that's about all we knew.  Chris was in between jobs and Bridget had a catch up week for school, so we decided it was a good a time as any to go.  We packed up all our camping gear and got ready for 5 nights camping.
 After crossing the mighty Pentecost River at sunset, we stayed the night at Home Valley Station.
 We turned off the Gibb River Rd and stopped in at Drysdale Station for lunch.  Chris chatted to a few 4WDers here who had just come from Mitchell Falls.  We found out a bit more about the road and river crossings.  We continued on  until the turnoff to Mitchell Falls.  The King Edward river was the one we'd read about and because we were early in the season, there was still plenty off water in it.  We all got out and walked the crossing to check the depth before Chris drove across.
 It was pretty deep, but passable.
 We camped the night at the King Edward River campground.  After setting up, we went for a walk down to the river and the falls.  It was beautiful!

 The campground manager invited us for a swim in his private waterhole.  We happily accepted and that was our shower for the night.

 The next morning we were up early, packed up camp and came back down to the waterfall.  It reminded us a lot of the gorges along the Gibb River Rd

 The girls had a great time climbing the rocks and trying to swim against the strong flow of the waterfall.
 We saw (and heard) plenty of dingoes on our way in and out of Mitchell Falls.
 Some of the Aboriginal Rock Art on the road into the falls.
 It was very different to other Aboriginal Art we'd seen in places like Kakadu and Uluru.

 This is the road into Mitchell Falls.  We'd read and heard about how rough this road is.  They say the 80 or so km's can take 5 hours.  It only took us 2 hours and we actually really enjoyed the drive in.  The road was a lot better that we thought it would be and a lot of it had just been graded..
 We'd seen a lot of 4WDs coming back out with this red mud all over them.  Chris wasn't so keen to be filfthy, but the girls were!  He kept the ute pretty clean on the way in, and gave the girls what they were after on the way out, splashing through these big mud puddles.
 Yay!!! We'd arrived!!
 After setting up camp and having lunch we walked to Little Mereten Falls for a swim.
 It was really cool to be able to walk up and behind the waterfall.
 The view out from behind the waterfall.

 The girls mucking around in the water and having a great time.  Soon after this photo was taken there was screaming and splashing going on in the water.  Both Chris and I thought a crocodile had snapped at someones foot (there were freshies in here).  But apparently Lucy had seen a tiny frog on Bridget's neck and started yelling and panicking which set them all off.  Once the screaming stopped, we found out all the fuss was over a little frog!
 A family photo at the top of Little Meretens Falls.  Simply stunning.  We had this whole place to ourselves.  This shot was about the 3rd or 4th attempt at this photo.  I put the self timer on and had to quickly walk across slippery rocks to get to the other side.  The other shots, I didn't quite make it!
 Some of the gorgeous views from the top of the falls.  This scenery reminded us a lot of Kakadu.

 A beautiful backdrop for our campsite!!
 There's not much better than sitting around the campfire out bush in the middle of nowhere!!  Love it!
 The next morning we set off for the 8.6km return walk to Mitchell Falls.  There were so many beautiful sights to see along the way.
 Big Mereten Falls

 We reached the top and had to get across the river to see Mitchell Falls.  We had spoken to people in the campground and on the walk who were very disappointed that they had got this far and were not able to cross the river as it was too high and flowing too fast.  We also met a couple who had crossed the river.  We were very determined to find a way to get across the river.  We didn't want to come all this way and not be able to see Mitchell Falls!!  We started going upstream a bit to find somewhere to cross. Just before we crossed we saw a couple struggle and get swept away by the rapids.  We chatted to them once they finally made it across and we found a better place to cross and made it safely to the other side.

 Mitchell Falls
It was so great to have made it.  And because the river was so difficult to get across and people weren't game to cross it, we had the place to ourselves!!

On our way back from Mitchell Falls we met the park ranger who said they'd just opened up the river crossing.  So on our way back across the river, the poles were up to tell us where to go and we crossed over with no problems.

 We stopped back in at Little Mereten Falls on our way back and the enjoyed cooling off in the rapids.  The girls had so much fun playing about in the rapids.  It entertained them for ages!!
Panorama of the top of Little Mereten Falls

 The ute did get a little dirty.  We'd had a great adventure getting to Mitchell Falls and it certainly didn't disappoint.  We loved it!!
 We stopped in to see some more Aboriginal Art on the way back out.
 Chris enjoying himself after another river crossing!!
 At one of the crossing along the Gibb River Rd we saw brolgas.  We stopped and watched them for a while.
 Stunning scenery along the Gibb River Rd
 We know we're near the end of our journey as we cross back over the Pentecost river and head back to Kununurra.

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