Gibb River Road in August.

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 10:48
ThreadID: 134219 Views:4822 Replies:13 FollowUps:9
This Thread has been Archived
I have always wanted to do a Gibb River Road trip and have finally organised some time off this coming August which coordinates with when my wife can get time off. I was keen to self drive but there is not enough time for me to get there and return to Melbourne and still do any justice to the area. Hiring a 4wd camper with insurance etc ended up being very expensive and so I have looked at going with a tour operator which is what my wife really wants anyway. My question is what do those of you who have been there think of going to Mitchell Falls in August? It adds time and expense to the trip and I was wondering if at that time of year would there be enough water at the falls to make that part of the trip worthwhile or would others suggest to give it a miss and concentrate on the other parts of the area? Is it one of those things that if you are there already you really should go or is it as some people have described, it can be a rush if you don't have plenty of time and you can get the feeling you are getting "gorged" out being pushed from one beauty spot to another? I appreciate any thoughts from those with experience in the area.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 11:52

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 11:52

First keep in mind this is just my personal opinion.

The wife and I spent a few excellent weeks travelling the GRR in June 2014. Absolutely loved it and went to as many of the gorges and station stays as we could.
The road to the Mitchell Falls was just being opened and we were advised that it would be pretty rough going. We went up the Kalumbaru road as far as Drysdale and took a scenic flight from there to the Mitchell Falls, Kings Cascades and a couple of other locations. Not the cheapest but well worth the cost in the end.
The pilot circles the falls with the wings tilted a few times to the left and then the right so passengers on both sides of the aircraft get a good view and photo opportunities.
With time constraints I guess a guided tour in one of the 4WD tour coaches is a practical option, but from what we saw of that with the operators having to stick to a schedule I personally wouldn't bother.

AnswerID: 608155

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 11:55

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 11:55
Hi Michael,

If a guided tour is the most practical to suit your needs and time constraints, go for it.
Most tour operators will have a fixed itinerary so you may be "restricted" to going to wherever the tour is scheduled to go.
Just have a look at the operator's itinerary and select one that best suits your needs. However, no matter where you go in the Kimberley, you will experience a great example of its unique offerings.
We are going on our second trip this coming late April/May and some places I have selected to camp for this trip, I didn't even know about on our first visit.
Late August may be a little dry in spots, but I'm sure the tour operators are well aware of the best places to go at a particular time of year.
Just get out and do it and it will give you a sample of what is there and "demand" a return visit in the future when you may have more time.
You will not be disappointed.


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 608156

Reply By: RobAck - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 12:28

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 12:28
Agree with Sandman. Look at your first time there as taking a snapshot of the place as that will be all it is. We spent two months there last year and it was not enough. Plenty more to see and so we are now planning another two month stay specifically in the Kimberley to spend more time exploring.

Tour operators pick the eyes out of things which is appropriate. They will take you to the icon sites.

One option to consider is to do an arial tour from Broome/Derby in a fixed wing. They cover a lot more of the Kimberley in a few days than you will ever see from the road and a tour bus or your own 4WD. Not cheap in some ways but without doubt one of the best ways of seeing more than most of us will and a great opportunity to see more of the coastline. As well do the horizontal falls flight and we recommend overnighting on the pontoon, fantastic

AnswerID: 608161

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 13:25

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 13:25
Apart from the spectacular falls, the Mitchell Plateau is different from most of the rest of the Kimberley.

OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 608162

Reply By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 14:36

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 14:36

I was there in August 2016 and after a fairly lean 2015-16 wet season there was not much water going over the falls. This summer there has been more rain so it should be better.

I would imagine most of the tour companies would include Mitchell Falls in their itinerary anyway. It is that sort of place.

You are right about the tour schedules. Compare them carefully. Some groups we saw looked under the pump. Late into camp and early starts every day could be a test.

Anytime you get a chance to see something from the air in the Kimberley you should stretch the budget.

Whatever you do enjoy. It's a region that will draw you back.


AnswerID: 608163

Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 17:51

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 17:51
Mitchell Falls are fantastic even if there is not a torrent of water later in the season. Definitely well worth the detour - and on the way you get to see Drysdale Station and the King Edward River crossing, which are both good camp spots with great swimming.
My advice is, if you are spending the money to get to the Gibb anyway, don't miss out on a really stunning part of the Kimberley.
It's a great option to chopper in to the falls from the campsite and then walk out - best of both worlds as you see the area from above as well as on the ground.
2018 Hilux and Black Wolf 210 tent - for the outback tracks less travelled
Formerly an AOR Eclipse and a TVan

My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 608164

Reply By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 18:39

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 18:39
Yes, the Mitchell Falls are Kimberley falls on steroids.Well worth it.

You can heli fly them from the Mitchell Plateau campground. You can take a fixed wing from Drysdale Station that over a couple of hours shows you so much more.

A tour should be terrific and flying up from home even better. The drivers will teach you heaps that you won't get on your own.

We drove from Melbourne last year and it sure is a biiig country!
AnswerID: 608165

Reply By: Member - Michael L5 - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:41

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:41
Thanks to everyone for their helpful replies. It does seem that it is a worthwhile detour. Most tour operators have the option of including the Mitchell Falls or not so I thought it was worthwhile asking the question. In some cases that option can add considerably to the cost, by as much as $4000.

My wife and I have been to Broome on a number of occasions and to Derby as well, plus we have done the Horizontal Falls which I would rate as one of the best things I have done.

The dates seem to be filling up fast and we were told by one operator they now only have September dates available now. I don't really want to go that late, less water and more heat.

I have been wanting to get up there on the Gibb with my wife for many years and one thing or another has always prevented us. It going to happen this year and I am starting to feel a bit excited about it. Thanks again.
AnswerID: 608166

Reply By: Top End Az - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:45

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:45
I've been there in August back in 2013. It had been very dry just before but luckily rained a week before we got there so they were flowing well. The scenery is some of the best regardless, and it's still the one spot in our travels that our teenage son has turned off his Ipad and earphones and sat there in awe. A tour is a good option. Better to drive that road in someone else's car anyway.
AnswerID: 608167

Reply By: wendys - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:54

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 19:54
IMHO Outback Spirit is the best tour operator to those parts.
AnswerID: 608170

Follow Up By: Member - Michael L5 - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:30

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:30
Thanks for the recommendation wendys. I have been looking at both Outback Spirit and APT. APT are booked out for August so have been looking more closely at Outback Spirit. Have you done a trip with them and if so were you happy with the accommodation they provided?
FollowupID: 877958

Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 10:41

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 10:41
I have not traveled with Outback Spirit tours, but met one of their tours while doing the Canning in 2015.
I was really impressed with their vehicles and setup.
Very professional I thought.
The people travelling with them were very happy with the accommodation and meals.
We were very jealous because they had full showers and toilets.
Always planning the next trip. VKS-737 mobile 1619

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 877966

Follow Up By: Member - Michael L5 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 12:14

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 12:14
Thanks William. I really appreciate your feedback. I have read the reviews from travellers that have gone with OS tours but no-one specifically mentioned the accommodation. The only mention of it was from the OS website and of course they were very positive as you would expect. I had spoken to people who had done the APT tours and they were full of praise for the accommodation, food etc. so I was looking to see if OS was up to the same standard. I am happy to rough it but I am very keen to ensure my wife really enjoys the experience and roughing it is not her thing but my feeling is that if we can have a great Outback experience together she will be more likely to be open to more in the future.
FollowupID: 877969

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 13:46

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 13:46
We were nearly killed by an APT bus on the GRR some years ago.
It came around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road doing at least 80kph and we had no option but to head for the scrum.
We were very lucky not to sustain serious damage or injury. The driver must have been aware of what he did to us, but did not stop.

One of the serious down sides of a schedule that is too tight.

OKA196 motorhome
FollowupID: 877972

Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:10

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:10
Hi Guys
Agree with all the positive comments about Mitchell Falls. Absolutely worth visiting. We visited in early August 2013. As mentioned I would also recommend the helicopter flight out and the walk back. There are about four croc free swimming spots on the way back. Of course if you are on a tour you may not have much flexibility.
I would also recommend Mornington, run by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Some spectacular scenery.
The Indiginous Art Site just over the King Edward River is superb. An absolute must visit if possible.
The Gibb is great. Get there before it becomes totally over exposed.
Landcruiser 200 VX Diesel + 19ft Bushtracker

My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 608178

Follow Up By: Member - Michael L5 - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:33

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:33
Thanks Robert1660. I am starting to get the feeling it may have already become too popular which was partly why I wanted to get there this year and not put it off any longer. The idea of the flight and walk back does sound appealing. I have read about others doing just that and it does seem like it would be a real highlight.
FollowupID: 877959

Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 11:29

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 11:29

Depending on things like age and state of knees, weather etc, the walk down to the Falls and the flight back might be a more appealing option.


FollowupID: 877968

Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 13:08

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 13:08
Hi Guys,
My parents-in-law did many trips with Outback Spirit when they were in their 70's and 80's. They always enjoyed their time with that company.
With respect to helicopters and Mitchell Falls the advantage of helicopter out is that you don't have to meet a deadline in the afternoon so you can be a little more relaxed as you walk back to the campsite. Of course either way you get to witness some magnificent scenery.
Landcruiser 200 VX Diesel + 19ft Bushtracker

My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 877971

Reply By: Ozi M - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 08:36

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 08:36
We have been on 2 Outback Spirit tours and both were good. We went to Cape York and and also did the Kimberley exquisite tour

They can be a bit dearer than other tours but you always have the "best available" accomm.

Lunch when in the Kimberleys is usually sandwiches but breaky and dinner are usually good.

Staff were excellent on both trips, we would only go with them if we went again but I have bought a Prado since then

My wife has recommended them to her single lady friends and they are fussy so the wrap is good.
AnswerID: 608187

Follow Up By: Member - Michael L5 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 12:31

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 12:31
That's fantastic feedback Ozi M. I am sure that if your wife and her friends were happy with the tour then my wife will be too. My wife certainly isn't difficult but as you mentioned, these tours can be expensive and I am keen to hear from others to ensure they are good value. Some years ago I did Cape York on a motorbike and a tour (I don't recall which company) arrived at one of the camps some time after dark. I got speaking to the travellers and while they were full of praise for the tour company staff, they all felt it was all too much of a rush with late finishes and early starts. I was keen to learn from others who have travelled the GRR as I didn't want our holiday to become too much of an endurance test and as I have never done a "tour" before all feedback is very welcome.
FollowupID: 877970

Follow Up By: Ozi M - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 08:07

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 08:07
We found it depends a bit on the driver, the bloke on the Cape run was good, he was a bit more time conscious and we arrived everywhere comfortably.
The bloke in the Kimberley was a great bloke but let everyone hang around too long at each attraction and we were usually late in the evenings. He was extra helpful and considerate of the older/frail people but it does slow things down being too patient.
The service was good though, an example for you, when we were at Zebedee Springs and us punters were having a soak in the water he was running around with a tray full of cut up fruit like a waiter.
All the free travellers were taking photos of us sitting in the springs getting waited on :)
We went with APT to Canada and they are not as good as they used to be, taking short cuts overseas, not sure about here.
FollowupID: 877994

Reply By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 21:58

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 21:58
Mitchell falls is the main reasons we went to the Kimberley's in August 2014. Yes the road is rough but the tour companies we saw always looked after there passengers. We were just wowed by the walk in and then the chopper flight out was fantastic. The falls were flowing well and just looked spectacular. We were there in late august early September and all the campsites were vacant. Everyone leaves at the start of September so instead of 250 campers at King Edward river camp ground there were 4 groups spread over the kilometer of river front.
Definitely the highlight of the trip. We were fortunate and had 6 weeks in the Kimberley's from Kunanarra to Broome. Best trip of our life. Towed a Complete Campsite Exodus 11 and my sister and husband hired a Troopy camper.
Mark And Helen QLD
Living the Dream

My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 608215

Sponsored Links