Mitchell plateau/falls and Kalumburu

Submitted: Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 17:08
ThreadID: 29311 Views:3306 Replies:8 FollowUps:4
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Happy new years every one. We are starting to plan our trip to Darwin from Perth to work out travel times etc. We would be interested in any ones comments on whether the above area is worth the drive given we only have 7 weeks to do the trip in and fishing is one of the main goals. Would the time be better allocated from Wyndham to the NT river systems and has anyone got any TOP spots they can recommend thats not in the travel brochures.
Cheers Deano
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Reply By: Member - Ian H (NSW) - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 18:56

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 18:56
The Mitchell Falls are great if you can fluke it after rain but crossing the King Edward river can be VERY dodgy after rain. We (5 guys) worked for 1.5 days to create a weir to slow the flow to something safe and still had a Patrol "float" a bit downstream. if you do go then Crystal Creek seems like a good spot to wet a line but it is full of big bitees, like crocs and Tiger sharks. We camped as close to the falls as possible but it was still a good 2/3 hour walk and had a 2m Taipan snake to greet us in camp when we returned late in the day. Be careful but it is worth the effort.
AnswerID: 146328

Reply By: bombsquad - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 19:24

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 19:24
I live locally, for 6 years anyway, and still haven't ventured in there yet, but plan to as soon as the road opens after the wet. It is impossible to 'plan' this time into a schedule, so if you have a set time you will be heading through it is in the hands of the gods. Plan for it conservatively, and the falls may be just a trickle, plan it early & you may not get in at all. Are you bringing a boat? I don't need much of an excuse to put mine in the water to take people out, or be a second boat for safety etc.....

Have a good trip, and make some noise if you want a little local knowlege around KNX or Whyndham

AnswerID: 146330

Follow Up By: DEANO WA - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 20:23

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 20:23
cheers , yeh were taking a 16ft c/console wich will restrict us a bit. I didnt say, but the trip is planned for early July and we are taking a dog (may restrict national park access).any more info would be greatly appreciated. If phil has his ears on id like to hear from him????
FollowupID: 399872

Reply By: Peter - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 20:31

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 20:31
to do a fishing trip in the kimberley and not do kalumburu is madness. it is one of the best spots for fishing. the best spot to go in kalumburu is honeymoon bay. it is shaded and the facilities tend to be good. depends on how much damage the wet season has done. you can launch from the beach or walk around to the headland and fish off the ledges for the pelagics. plenty of BIG spanish mackerel, trevally, golden and giant, queenfish, shark and if you have a boat the mangroves are good for a fish as well. dont forget to take plenty of lures. surface and deep divers. if you want to find out how it is, you can ring kalumburu and ask for the honeymoon bay phone number or les french who owns the camp at honeymoon bay.
if you decide to go out to mitchell falls then i suggest you go a bit further to port warrender/crystal creek area. the fishing there is also magnificient. the road after mitchell falls is very rough and the last 10 kilometres can take an hour to traverse. last time i was there the facilities were very much bush camping with heaps of sandflies. i believe a fishing camp has been set up in the area but i dont know what the deal is with it.
when you are in broome head north to cape leveque. all of it is sensational and great fishing. there would be other places i could mention in the kimberley but i would say that these are probably the best in terms of ease of access and fishing. the more remote spots tend to be major excursions and your limited time may be a problem.
i would also suggest a must buy is the "north australian fish finder" book. it is by far the best fishing guide i have seen for the entire north cost from carnarvon all the way to the whitsundays. it has gps waypoints, aerial maps and good fishing maps. you can buy it via the internet if your local newsagent doesnt stock it.
good luck on your travels. who knows i may see you up there. trying to get a trip organised for late april, early may. prime time in the kimberley.
AnswerID: 146337

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 21:13

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 21:13
Just out of Wyndem You can take a track occross some dry lakes that goes to a place called diggers rest tree or some kind of tree. The road follows a tidal creek and i noticed a ute parked at the side of the narrow road so i stopped for a look The guys were fishing live baits on a flaot in a creek no more than 20m wide and in less than an hour had a mullaway a barramundi and a big cattie.
I fished the pools further up with just a lure and got nothing. From talking to locals they all say the same thing the biggest mistake southerners make is using lures coz nothing beats live bait
AnswerID: 146346

Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:06

Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:06
It goes past the prison tree to Diggers Rest station. The Prison tree is on the bank of the King river. I couldn't catch a thing on lures at the King River near the prison tree, but if you continue on the rough Kurunji (spelling) track (through El Questro's gate) you will come to the Pentecost river. I didn't have a chance to fish there but it looked bloody good.
FollowupID: 399904

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:11

Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:11
These guys were fishing a few ks from the tree towards Wyndam where the road follows the tidal creek.Being Locals in the know told me A) forget lures and B) they never catch mutch from that area either but fish the area most just drive past
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Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:18

Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006 at 00:18
Yep, I know the spot. it was full of freshwater crocs when I was there. It did look good.
FollowupID: 399910

Reply By: HJ60-2H - Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 21:46

Monday, Jan 02, 2006 at 21:46
Mitchell Falls is one place in the world that my wife & I would revisit. Magical place. I'd love to see it in the wet.
AnswerID: 146356

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006 at 14:47

Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006 at 14:47
Just recovering for posterity.

G'day Deano,

We spent a glorious week at McGowans Island camping ground last August it is located about 7 K out of Kulumburu. The locations has its ups and downs, the camp site looks much like it did after cyclone Ingrid flattened it earlier last year and there is wreckage strewn everywhere. Our camp had 180 degree water views but no shade and if it wasn’t for the sea breeze the heat would be intolerable. I had a magnificent Boab tree surrounded by pandanus palms right next to our tent. The sunsets here are postcard stuff with a fire red sunset over the water every day.

George the caretaker was most friendly from the moment we pulled into the place. He has showed us where to go and catch bait. The toilet and shower are worth a mention they are in a building that was demolished in the cyclone but he shower and toilet sort of survived, just cold water which is burning hot during the day because the water main lies above the ground and acts as solar heating. Some of this house roof also survived and its location over a concrete floor made it a perfect work shop.

Most importantly I must get to the fishing which has been tops. Our first day saw us unloading the boats and setting them up to go out – well when the wind died in the avo we had a bit of a fish but no real luck. This changed on day 2 when we met a young couple who’d been here for several weeks and knew where to find the reefs. He had some GPS coordinates and whilst the fishing was good it only got better when we hatched a plan to go with this couple to an outside reef (about 7 or 8 K out). My wife just had to show me up and landed a magnificent red emperor (around 4 kilos) as well as several nice fingermarks. This and what the other boats caught we feasted on fresh reef fish and put a bit in the freezer for later. She proved that this catch was no fluke when a couple of days later she landed a black jew weighing 26 lbs, this was easily the fish of the week.

This day we went out to another distant reef on a gloriously quite and cool morning – not a breeze and the ocean like glass. We raced out to catch the others that left before us, yeah it was after 5-30 and we were running late. We sped out on full throttle riding over a subtle half meter swell and were with the others in about 15 minutes, turned on the sounder and looked for the reef, it is not large and rises about 2.5 meters in 16 meters of water. We anchored right over the reef and started catching fish non stop and let them all go except one which was going to be my shark bait for the evening. These were not rubbish fish but we simply had too much fish already. By about 8 we were almost out of bait and I was cutting up some hussar for bait – the day looked like it was going to finish early. We decided one last shift over the reef as our anchor had pulled, my wife put her bait down before the anchor rope had even tightened and while I was fiddling with some bait she had a huge strike and it started to look like a serious fish after a few minutes. It started to head for the anchor rope so I had to work around her to pull this in and yell instructions at the same time – a deckies job is never done! That was the start of a 10 minute ride with her saying it is just another shark (Yeah we had caught a few by this time) but then we saw some silver colour and this was no shark. Up to the landing net and in the boat, what a magnificent fish to catch out of a tinnie in open waters, surely still one of Australia’s unspoiled fishing destinations.

Our afternoon started with bait netting for bait the next day, this we complete by about 4-30 then we set up for shark fishing. This is usually over by 6-30, our first night shark fishing was our second day here and we were using a 5lbs mackerel for bait. Our MO is to deploy the bait and some weight (a rock in a bag attached with some light line) via the tinnie about 100 meters from the beach. Race back and drag the tinnie out with the 4wd then gear up for a bite – which was in about 10 minutes. Landed a lemon shark of about 150 kilos in about 15 to 30 minutes. We released this fish after some photos and we had drawn a crowd out of the camp ground.

Nights 2,3 and 4 were failures for various reasons but the best one was where my buddy was on to a good fish and it bust off. Later we discovered it had bitten through our multi strand stainless trace – we figured a heavier trace from here on! We used a jew fish head for bait and also a reef shark.

The wildlife has been interesting with feral donkey bellowing at day break and frequent croc encounters, well we actually only saw one on a walk along a beach but there have been some interesting stories, a few night ago a camper awoke in the middle of the night to find a large croc only a meter away from his swag. This guy was told not to camp on the beach but said he knew what he was doing and did it anyway. The other was a day later when someone decided to go and check on the boats at 1-30 am, a crock was sitting between the boats – no doubt attracted by the fishy smell. If you’re an oyster fan then this is the place for you, they are about 4 to 6 times larger then those puny Sydney Rock oysters. But we have seen several injuries both collecting (low tide) and opening these monsters.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 146387

Reply By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Saturday, Jan 28, 2006 at 12:45

Saturday, Jan 28, 2006 at 12:45
Hi Deano, Considering you are towing the boat Kalumburu is a great fishing place. Check out the camp at McGowans Island as well, I think they have it up and running again now but who knows what this year will bring !
The coast at Kalumburu has hedlands to hide behind, a river to go up and good deep holes for bottom fish. Think VERY carefully before considering Warrender or Crystal Creek, depending upon wet season one year it took me 5.5 hours to do the last 12km with a trailer taking in some fuel for a fishing camp and that wasn't a boat trailer it was a high one built for the job. The track to both spots is BAD and I am used to goat tracks.
If the boat trailer is a standard on road height build I'd forget it, you will hang up on the rocks and gutters. Crystal creek is mangroves and mud and unless someone has chopped a big hole in the mangroves since I was there it's hard or even impossible to launch even a sml boat. It also goes dry with the tide, we went there we didn't in fact catch a thing except a sml catty. At both places the sandflies can carry you away at times but the track is the main problem, it hasn't had any maintaince done on it for years now.
cheers, Anne
AnswerID: 151443

Reply By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Saturday, Jan 28, 2006 at 12:50

Saturday, Jan 28, 2006 at 12:50
Deano, I forgot to tell you , you won't be allowed to take the dog past the King Edward River Crossing to head in the plateau track . CALM have now closed the whole area to all dogs.
cheers, Anne
AnswerID: 151444

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