Which helicopter flight?

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:20
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In about two months (eek!) we depart for a 10 week trip up through the center and to the Kimberleys. We've got budget for one helicopter charter flight on our trip, but our itinerary gives us three options that all claim to be "must do's" -

1. Kings Canyon (late April)
2. Bungle Bungles (early May)
3. Mitchell Falls (mid May)

If you had to narrow it down to one of these three, which would you do? Would appreciate feedback from people who have done at least two of these flights - as I'm sure that any one of them would be spectacular, but we're looking for comparisons to get the best "bang for buck". My wife is keen to do the Bungle Bungles, I'm keen to do Mitchell Falls, but am a little worried about how good they will be mid May (amount of water etc). We've also heard Kings Canyon is pretty special too, so we need to narrow the list down! Budget doesn't allow for all three.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:30

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:30
Hi Scubaroo

I will follow this with interest as we plan to go to the Kimberley in the winter, and if time, to the Centre.

My son did the Mitchell Falls flight in July last year.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 18:13

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 18:13
Above was taken on the 'short flight' after walking in to the falls. An 8 minutes flight doing a few loops over the falls then back to camp. Cost $90 each and my son said is well worth it.

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Reply By: SteveL - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:35

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:35
I would take the Bungle Bungle flight.Best "bang for buck" IMHO.
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Reply By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:41

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:41
tough one . did none as i thought i could see it all from the ground however photos ive seen suggest otherwise.
I think the only real way to appreciate the size etc of the BB is by air.
Mitchel falls the only way to get the whole view of the falls like MH is by copterand you can save the walk back
KC i reckon i had a pretty good view by doing the rim walk.
try and stretch the budget for 2 otherwise you have a tough choice
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:43

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:43
Katherine George, without a doubt!!!

Oh sorry that wasnt on your list...Ooopps

What I ment to say was Ormiston Pound and Mt Sonder from Glen Hellen is easily the best!!

$hiit that wasnt on there either!!!!

Sorry..Im not helping things am I?


Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:23

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:23
canoe katherine gorge for the best view. high light was taking a rest under an overhanging gorge and being joined by turtles
lowlight was the thieves charging me to paddle my own canoe. The pws do this to discoarage people BYO canoe so you have to use the operators
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:33

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:33
What!!!! ...are you serious?
Did they really try to charge you?
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:59

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:59
Yes and I needed the large disc displayed at all times or i would have been identified as a rouge canooist. was gonna stay over night but not after that I drove to flora river and conooed and camped there for free
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Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:10

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:10
How many beers have you had, Hairy???....hahahahahahaha
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:39

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:39
Willem,
None! probably still full as a fat ladys nickers from last night though....LOL

Davoe,
I would told them to take a flying fluck at themselves.
I cant see how the can charge you? Its a river?
Im going to email them and stir the pot!!

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:43

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:43
was about 5 years ago now things might have changed.
Also got asked to be off the water at geike gorge by a certain time so i didnt spoil the ambience of the cultural experience cruise
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Follow Up By: Member -Steve.NT - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:03

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:03
good old Werner he always new how to make a buck, Yes things have changed as the Jawoyn association own the set up now as Werner didn't want change, so they didn't renew his lease.

The plebs have to be out of Zebede springs at El Questro by mid day so the Homestead guests can have it to themselves for the afternoon.

Cheers Steve.
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Follow Up By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:48

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:48
Hi Steve,

"The plebs have to be out of Zebede springs at El Questro by mid day so the Homestead guests can have it to themselves for the afternoon."

Yeah we know about that one, it was great having the springs to ourselves, was certainly woth the $$$

Cheers

D




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Reply By: Austravel - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:19

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:19
Hi,

Late 2006 we went to your number 2 and 3. My wife was not so much disappointed with Bungle Bungles but compared to what you see on TV it was nothing like it. We quickly realised that our idea of BB was based on TV which was from aerial shots. We found the BB was to large to relate it to our expectations. Nothing wrong with the place but trying to say I'm sure the BB flight would put it all into perspective.

However we did the Mitchell Falls flight, coughed up for the 1 hour run with two other people. You can put your name on a list and they'll find others to reduce the cost. Only four passengers and $500 per couple. Certainly had second thoughts about the cost up until we started the flight. We're far from well off but decided to do one flight on our trip. Was the best $500 we've ever spent. Though it was our first flight so this might have had a bit to do with it.

The flight included a couple of smaller falls, aboriginal sites from the air, coast line around Port Warrender. Up the coast, back up Mitchell river to the falls. Dropped of the others at the falls and then a low level flight around the falls. Did quite a bit of croc spotting etc.

When you think of it the cost is very minor to the complete trip cost. Next time I'll make sure we do a couple more flights and would certainly include Kings Canyon at the top of the list.
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Reply By: Outbacktourer - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:33

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:33
We've done all three and all are excellent and well worth doing. Forced to rate I'd find it hard to split the Mithcell Falls and Bungles. If I really had to choose I'd go with the Mitchell Falls one because you can choose to do the walk in (1 1/2 hrs) and then get the chopper to pick you up in there. Not only do you get the flight but save yourself the walk out.

OT
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Reply By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:43

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:43
Scubaroo ,

Sorry I am answering when I should not . I have been on three flights , but only in one area - the Kimberley .

How old are you ? If you are reasonably fit ? Are you lumbered with little kids ? I do not think you need a chopper flight at Mitchell Falls or Kings Canyon if you are reasonably mobile .

I have walked all over Kings Canyon and seen most of the sites without the need for a chopper .

Similarly , we left the Mitchell Falls car park at 8.00 am and got down to the first falls , had a good look at the art , looked at more art further down and across the creek . Got to the Falls , had a good look around , walked up the Mitchell River a couple of km , looked at more art , had lots of swims and made it back to the car park , well before dark .

During our Kimberley trip , four of us hired a chopper for a day to run right down the coast and then inland , landing and inspecting a number of fantastic art sites - that was worth big money and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who can afford it .

The shorter trips where you are just looking at areas you could have seen from the ground - I do not see the value .

I have no idea about the Bungles , I have never been there .

Have a great trip ,

Willie .
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:43

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:43
Did the BB from Warmun or Turkey Creek as it was then. Trip was fantastic and about 45 -60 minutes long. Going from there you do a totally different run than from in the park itself.
Wished we'd done the Mitchell Falls trip when we were there but after having spent nearly $800 for the 2 of us to do the Horizontal Waterfalls flight out of Derby it was getting a bit much.

BTW the Horizontal Falls trip is fantastic supposed to be 3hrs but we ended up having nearly 5 hrs due to the tides I think, went fishing and had a ball and a feed in the evening with the fish I caught. Landing on Talbot bay by seaplane is an experience in itself.

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Follow Up By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:53

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:53
Hi Dunc, we did that one last September, had breakfast on the yacht after landing in the plane and then the falls, what a great day, would thoroughly recommend that one for sure.

Was great to put a face to the name the other day.

Cheers

D


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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 23:45

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 23:45
Likewise with you two as well. Would much rather of continued our conversation than go back into work.

We had to have the pleb period at the Zeberdy Springs tenting it's a bit different than lodging it. Pity they had done a burn off shortly before we visited El Q (June 06).
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Follow Up By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 01:53

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 01:53
We tented too (over $700 per night is a bit much for us) but went on the day tour, did all the Gorges, lunch at the restaurant and afternoon down champagne Gorge. lovely day.

Cheers

D


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Reply By: Member - Jon W (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:52

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:52
Hi,
We did a KC helicopter flight in Apr 06 and a fixed wing Bungles flight in June 06. The fixed wing flight was from Kununurra and took in Lake Argyle as well. We think it was better value for money although the transit time is longer and you get one loop around the Bungles lasting about 10 minutes.
Just another possibility if you're going to Kununurra.
Jon W
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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:14

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:14
I have walked them all in a previous life. I like to smell the bush.

I think the Bungles would be the best bet for a chopper flight
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Reply By: A J - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:09

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:09
Scubaroo - we took a fixed wing flight over the bungles in 1986 then drove into them in 1992 and took a helicopter flight. It was really great.

When we travel now we consider how much it costs to get there - when will we return - does it really matter if the credit card is battered when you get home.

We have been to all the places that you mention and all would be great.


A J
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Reply By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:10

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:10
Hi Scubaroo,

I have only done the bungles about 10 years ago and was very nice.



Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:08

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:08
While i did most of the walks in the park both in the north and the south and it was immpresive enough and i wouldnt have substituted a chopper flight for them. the ground view just doesnt do them justice
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Reply By: the nugget - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:14

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:14
WE did the Mitchell falls. Flew in $75, spactacular loops of the Mitchell falls and spent 6 hours walking out including a couple of swims taking in all the glorious surrounds including aboriginal art. The best $75 I spent
The Nugget.
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Reply By: Andrew(WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:52

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:52
Scubaroo

If you're doing the GRR, you forgot you mention the chopper flights around Elquestro...also a bit of fun

I've done the Elquestro and the Mitchell Falls. Of these two I'd pick the Mitchell falls as better value for money.

Elquestro was a hoot...low flying through the gorges (apocalypse now style) sight seeing etc but a shorter flight for the $$$

At the Mitchell camp site you can sit down with the 'head' pilot and negotiate a few things...# passengers V's distance V's how busy they are V's your budget.

They have set routes for different prices but you don't have to stick to their routes, make your own if you want, get dropped off somewhere where no man has gone before and they'll pick you up later in the day "like the bush Tucker man" absolutely brilliant.

I negotiated a price with the pilot (basically told him i had XXX$ to spend so where can i go?) He showed me the map and we went as far North as possible flying over as much as possible which included all major attractions.
I had the Mrs and 3 kids. We all walked to the falls first, got picked by a Bell Ranger chopper (doors optional) from there and off we went on about a 35 minute flight and dropped off back at camp for a refreshing tinny and dinner. I felt like a millionaire for a day!

Total freedom, isolation and delight for the whole family.
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Reply By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:39

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:39
I've flown over the Bungles and reckon it was fantastic. We had a 7am flight, tho, which made best use of the early light. During the middle of the day, it would be less impressive. A late arvo flight should also be good. Being able to swoop low is awesome, whereas a fixed wing will be restricted by a minimum height. You get to see lots that you cannot walk into.
I've flown over the Mitchell by fixed wing, but that was a loop from Drysdale River stn to Mitchell falls, down the coast to Prince Regent and back to Drysdale, over 2 hours, which was also excellent.
An issue with fixed wing aircraft is the tinting, which spoils photography, whereas one can hang out from the helicopter (geez, it's fun!) and really cop the view.
As per an earlier post above, Kings Canyon is fantastic just walking the 8km perimeter. And the experience lasts for hours, not minutes!
Gerry
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Reply By: Skinnydog - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:46

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:46
Another option is a 2 hour plane flight from Drysdale River station
which takes you over Mitchell Falls, a section of the coast and up the Prince Regent River/ Kings Cascade Falls.
Excellent value plus you should have enough to get the taxi run from Mitchell Falls back to camp after walking in.
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Reply By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:53

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:53
As has already been asked - how fit are you ?
If you can walk to some places and not others then that should reduce your choices. I could walk the main tourist spots at the Bungles (ground level) but I am rather limited on hill treks these days (bad knees) so would choose the helicopter at Mitchell Falls.
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Reply By: David A A - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:17

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:17
Hi Scubaroo
I do not know how close to these sites you intend to travel, but 10 weeks should get you very close to all.
Having been to 2 of 3 and flown on fixed wing over the BB, I would suggest to fly the BB in fixed wing from outside ie say Halls Creek and to go in and see the Mitchell falls up close. There is no substitute to standing at the top of the falls. But I would suggest hitting that credit card and flying by chopper out from the Mitchell falls back to the parking area.

David
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Reply By: Scubaroo - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:47

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:47
Thanks for all of the posts so far - the Horizontal Falls seaplane was one I hadn't considered. I didn't realise some of the flights were as low as $75 for short trips - I was budgeting more along the lines of the $500 per couple experience.

We're both early thirties and fit, but my wife is "vertically challenged" and we've calculated walks 7 steps to my 5 - hence wears out quicker! So some of the more strenuous hikes might be pushing it.

Sadly saying "what the heck" and splashing out on all of them isn't an option - we're both taking unpaid leave for the trip so the budget matters.

Keep the posts coming - I'll have to do some more research on some of the "short hop" options are versus the big layout experiences. The option about getting dropped off and picked up a couple of hours later sounds brilliant! I've got a SW fly rod that packs small :)

We wanted to do some guided flyfishing on the trip, but were blown away by the $5000 pricetags being quoted for a weeks fishing - obviously aimed at more well-to-do tourists than ourselves.
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Reply By: mfewster - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:50

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:50
I'd vote for the Bungles helicopter trip as the perspective on the Bungles is difficult to get from the land. If you choose this one, try to do it early in the morning as the side lighting makes them very dramatic. I got some fantastic photos hanging out of the chopper on this trip, then lost them all!!!!!!
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Reply By: Lyds- Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:04

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:04
I've done flights over the Bungles and Mitchell Falls.

I think you can get a pretty good appreciation of the Falls on the ground, but the flight over the Bungles and its expansiveness was a real eye opener for me.

You should seriously think about extending your budget and do as many of those special trips as you can; its not every day you get to have a 10 week trip :-)

Good luck!

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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:59

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 22:59
Hi Scubaroo, did the Helicopter flight in August last year, drove in stayed the night and drove out. The helicopter ride was in the evening just before sundown and it was great, no doors on the chopper to block the views!!!!!!!!! Definitely be the one I would choose off your list.

Good luck with your choice, whichever one you choose you will enjoy it for sure

Cheers

D


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Follow Up By: Scubaroo - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 08:26

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 08:26
Er, which flight again was that? :)
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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 07:40

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 07:40
Scubaroo,

I'm another with this dilema and heading for both the Bungle Bungles and Mitchell Falls with a group in June/July.
A mate did this area about 5 years ago but only did the Bungle Bungles helicopter flight and said it was an eye opener. He took a video of the trip which I have viewed and the flight looks awesome.
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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 09:49

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 09:49
I know that you were very specific about the limited resources but I for one would suggest beg, borrow or steal the funds to do all of them as well as the El Questro flight, Drysdale Homestead , a fishing charter or 3. Because in the end it is a trip of a lifetime and unless you plan to go back often the opportunity may not present itself again. Lets face it the cost in the sceme of things is relatively small.

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Kind regards
AnswerID: 286842

Reply By: HGMonaro - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 10:10

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 10:10
I would say the Bungles. We didn't do one there, we drove in and camped overnight. I'd recommend 2 nights to anyone contemplating driving in as it's a fair drive (we came from Kununurra that morning). As mentioned above, you don't get a feeling of the size of the place walking around (compared to what I've seen on tele!), however walking around was a great experience and highly recommended.

Mitchell Falls walk is not that long so can be done both ways easily (very interesting walk as well as the shrubbery changes a lot) and you can have a swim along the way. We caught the chopper in (would have prefered to fly out but it was fully booked so had no choice) and walked out. The kids (8 & 5yo) and I loved it, the Mrs wasn't too keen on the 'doors off' element!

The Kings Canyon rim walk was great and I can't see how a chopper ride there could compare, the ones we saw buzzing around didn't go anywhere near low enough to see the dramatic effect of the walls of the canyon. We took about 4hrs which included a lunch stop and a few snack breaks.

Nige.
AnswerID: 286846

Reply By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 12:02

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 12:02
Scubaroo,

I would also vote for the Bungles, just because of scale if nothing else. The walk in and out of Mitchell falls is great and not too hard. As some others have said, plenty of places to stop for a dip or a rest in the shade.

BTW, here is what the operators at Mitchell Falls get up to when not flying tourists.

Matt.

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Reply By: Navigator 1 (NSW) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 23:39

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 23:39
If I could only choose one flight from your list it would have to be the Bungle Bungles.

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Enjoy the ride.
The outback calls

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