Kimberley info please

Submitted: Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 10:17
ThreadID: 7344 Views:3422 Replies:8 FollowUps:16
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Hi All,

Planning to take 8 weeks around May/Jun next year to travel up from Perth, across the GRR then home again. Just in the preliminary planning stages at the moment but thinking of going east as far as Gregory River NP then south to the Buchanan Hwy either via Victoria River Downs or the Humbert River Track. Then west to Halls Creek via the Buchanan and Duncan Hwys with diversions into Wolfe Creek Crater and possibly Lake Gregory, then home from Halls Creek.

As we will have a nearly 3 yr old and a 3 month old baby with us, our pace will be very leisurely (hence the 8 weeks timeframe) with the intention of spending at least two nights in some places on the track apart from multiple night stopovers in Broome, Kununurra etc. We always prefer to bush camp wherever possible. BTW, we'll be towing our off-road campertrailer.

Questions I have, particularly for those who have been up that way recently:
- Any top campsites along this route you can recommend.
- Any comments on the proposed route (eg. track conditions etc)
- What is track like between Mitchell Falls t/off and Kalumburu?
- Apparently its a 2 hours walk back to the car park/campground from Mitchell Falls assuming we get a helo ride in. How difficult is this walk? Can it realistically be tackled with a 3 year old who may walk part way but will want to be piggybacked the rest and a small baby in a papouse? We would pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Or should we just get a lift in and out. What is the $.
- What is the $ of catching a scenic flight over the Bungles once we are in there?
- Any guidebooks, maps etc you can recommend. Is Ron & Viv Moon's Kimberely guidebook worth buying?

Lot of questions I know but in my experience it pays to plan ahead.

:o) Melissa
Petrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
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Reply By: EXTREME1 - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 12:43

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 12:43
I was there july this year and had a ball. I would suggest a place called miners pool which is part of the drysdale river station, it is about 5 klms down the road from the homestead. You pay $5 per person per night, but you only get drop toilets (no showers). King edward river was very nice and relaxing well worth a stop over. Mitchell falls walk took us 50 minutes at a good rate, there was the odd small rock face to climb down (2-3 metres) but found it pretty easy going. We arranged for the chopper to pick us up, we ended up getting the mud crab tour which cost $60 each (15 minute ride) if you have four people. They take you down to where the fresh water meets the salt. They also have a taxi tour which picks you up and takes you straight back to camp which will set you back $60 each. The road in at the time was horrible, we passed three broken trailers left on the side of the road. Most people were setting up their camper trailers at King edward and driving to mitchell for a quick one night stay. It is well worth the effort. Bell gorge was nice if you can get one of the 10 camp sites (get in early). Sadly we didn't get to Kalumbaru (not happy) but intend on getting up there in the future. If you have time and are heading towards Broome stay a few nights a Cape Leveque, it was the highlight of our trip.
AnswerID: 31665

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:16

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:16
Thanks for the info. Think we'll get a helo ride in and out rather than find we have a miserable hike with the kidlets. Agree with your comments on Cape is one of our all time favourite spots so we'll definitely be incorporating 2 or 3 nights there on our trip.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22652

Reply By: Cam - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 14:46

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 14:46
Hi Melissa,
In regards to the Mitchell Falls Walk my 2 boys aged 4 & 6 walked in with no difficulty at all. Took 2 hours in total. In my opinion if walking 1 way is a must then walk to the falls & try to leave at 1st light in the morning. this is whilst it is still cool & everyone is relatively fresh then get the helo ride out. Bearing in mind that you have a 3yr old & a 3 month old I would be more inclined to get the helo ride both ways. Prices for us (2 adults 2 kids) was $120 one way. The 4yr old was a freeby.
AnswerID: 31677

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:17

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:17
Thanks Cam, I think we'll take your advice and get a ride in and out.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22653

Reply By: big john - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 19:12

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 19:12
just came back from that area in july/august it was sensational - the Gibb river road at times is great ,but other places terrible .

i have a three year old , a10 and 12 yr old and the walk in and out was great although we took the ride in by helicopter. (mitchell falls) we did camp at the king edward river campsite , which was good although it certainly wouldn't be impossible to get you trailer into the mitchell campsite.I actually walked into the falls late afternoon and slept in a swag with my boys at the top of the mitchell falls -unbelievable !

we had the moons book and i thought it was great . there is plenty of fuel on the trip .

Highlights for me were , Bellcreek gorge, mitchell falls, manning gorge and campsite is great for the whole family , our favourite campsite was probably el questro . Still camping with a fire by the river but a hot shower down the road, heaps of things to do and just a great atmosphere

We also loved a night we stayed at Ellenbrae station, the people there were great and was an experience of the people of the kimberley

The old mornington area is supposed to be very good and the facilities great and is just being opened up properly

I have been on this road four times now and this time we had a GU patrol 3.0 litre towing a cavalier camper trailer which we found was excellent , we had no problems.

People travelling with us stuffed five tyres on the road whilst we did none on the GRR- which i put down to running lower tyre pressures although this is a hot topic with whoever you speak with, including my travelling companions.

good luck on the trip it is an amazing part of australia

AnswerID: 31695

Follow Up By: Member - Graham - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 19:29

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 19:29
I would have thought your travelling companions would have been convinced re tyre pressures...after they stuffed 5 to your none. Recently we travelled around Birdsville/Innaminka/Boulia one guy destroyed 3 tyres running high psi, while we drove with low psi and all tyres survived the trip.cya
FollowupID: 22609

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 21:38

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 21:38
I used Goodyear MTR's & the moment I hit dirt roads I knock 10psi out all round. Lower psi softens the bang on the suspension and gives a better footprint on the dirt - drive in 4WD-H and stay away from the edges. I reacon some drivers must aim at the rocks to see how many they can hit.
We did 13950 kl, a lot of it in the NW in tough country and didn't get a flat.
Melissa I'll put you on the list for a copy of my trip through a lot of the country your interested in, plus I'll send some notes as an addendum to this post when I get the map out.
Please pass on your emil address to
Carpe Diem
FollowupID: 22626

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 22:02

Monday, Sep 22, 2003 at 22:02
Don't know what happened there, I put in in but it didn't come out.

Try again - Carpe Diem
FollowupID: 22629

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:29

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 11:29
Big John,

Thanks for your answer...just the sort of first-hand info I was after. Agree with your comments re: lower tyre pressure. This has been our approach for many years now and we've only ever had 1 blowout.

I bought the Moon's guidebook late yesterday and it seems very, very good. Lot of detail and pertinent info.

Any particular reason why so many choose to camp and leave trailers at King Edward rather than taking them in? Is the campground at the Falls noisy with helo's coming and going all the time or are they sufficiently far away?

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22654

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 19:20

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 19:20
Hi Melissa
I'll get that diary started later tonight. It'll be is sections over a few weeks starting from Syd.
Having just been in the K for 6 weeks its interesting reading other's views and opinions. Like this forum it is so diverse. I try not to beat up my experiences too much as we each have different expectations. The K was so different to what I had expected, the image I had in my mind. I often find that when people say "you just have to go there, its incredible" it somehow seems less than I then expect. We are all different.
A lot rave about El Questro, we popped in for a day visit without buying a "park pass" and found it terribly touristy and very expensive, sure it was nice but not what we wanted, helicopters, tourist buses, hundreds of people etc. We did go down to Emma Gorge just to eat at the restaurant (good quality/service). We also discovered that where we were camped down on the Pentecost River we were on El Q land ( and that was forbidden, tut, tut), but there was just SWMBO and me, the campfire, fishing and sunset.

We did not haul a trailer but with your (assumed) experience that wont be a prob. I'm not sure how you adjust to the corregations with a trailer. Do you just carry on at the same speeds ?? Anyhow, the roads in the Kimberley ie GRR, Kalumburu R + side rds are always being graded somewhere. It's the luck of the draw. We went up to Mitch Plt and it was wicked, so much so that I canned the rest of the trip to Kalumburu. A week later all those roads were graded. Damnnn, if only we knew.
I found that once I got to harmonic speed the corregations were not a problem. Except that damn Mitchell Plat rd. The caretakers at KingEdward Riv camping area told us that the week befor we were there, there had been over a 100 campers in the grounds. We were lucky, there were only about 12. They are all there for one reason, to go up to Mitch Plat, hence the rough rd.
We took 3 hrs to drive the 75 Kl. & left at 6.30am.
How you do things with the kids might depend on the weather, it was 40deg + and we walked in/out. $60 each way / 15 mins /PP I thought more than the budget (no, I was being mean, I thought that was expensive also). You always see more on the ground.
Depending on the flow, take the swimmers & picnic, its a relaxing spot to cool off.
BTW, the campground up there is pretty ordinary.
Dinners ready, got to go.

FollowupID: 22774

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 11:45

Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 11:45
Thanks for that Cocka. Looking forward to getting your trip journal but I know how long it can often take to actually get them finished. In the meantime, the info you just provided is handy.

We've been towing an offroad trailer for over 5 years now and have never had a problem. Our approach is slow and steady which applies as much to the car as the trailer. We don't have any hard and fast rules of same speed or slower with the trailer; we just take each bit of road as it comes and adjust our speed accordingly. My husband spent most of his life on the land and as such has great sympathy for machinery. I believe this is a lot to do with why we tend to have little or no trouble whilst other have no end of trouble. Hope I haven't just jinxed ourselves by saying that, LOL.

Re MP, we'll make our final decision when we get there and talk to other travellers though at this stage I think we'll plan to take the trailer right in. Reason being that I think it will just be too big a day for the littlies to make it a day trip from King Edward. Will definately helo one-way to or from the falls but will budget for 2-way trip just in case. The problem is the 3 yr old not the baby. At 3 he'll be just a bit too big and heavy for the backpack carrier but his little legs may tire on a long walk, even if we break it up with a picnic and swimming. Have decided to wait and see how he copes with the shorter walks at other gorges before the MP. If there's one thing I've learned since having Matty, it's be flexible!

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22802

Reply By: Troopie - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:27

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:27
Hey Cocka
Mind if I get a copy of that too - we are also heading up that way next year. Will send you an email seperately.

Melissa - we (two Troopies, two couples) will be up that way next year. We are leaving the east in the last week of June - doing the Canning Sth-Nth then playing in the Kimberley for the rest of time. Keep your eyes out for two white Troopies.

AnswerID: 31765

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:32

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:32

I think we'll probably miss you as we are planning on being back home by end of June. Want to get the trip done before bulk of school holidays and end of financial year (work commitments). Sounds like a great trip you have planned though.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22660

Follow Up By: Troopie - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:41

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:41
Fair enough - have a good one!

When are the WA school holidays?

FollowupID: 22661

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:53

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 14:53

WA school hols are 10 Jul-25 Jul. You can see school terms for all states at:
School Terms

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22662

Follow Up By: Troopie - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 15:02

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 15:02
G'day Again
Thanks for that - should have checked, but hadn't even got that far - only really crossed my mind when you mentioned it. Our holiday dates are pretty much set by other factors - but knowing when the hols are helps avoid the obviously crowded places & times.

FollowupID: 22666

Reply By: Member - Alan - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 16:40

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 16:40
Hi Melissa

My 2 bobs worth - Are you sure you are not trying to do too much in the time allowed ??. We were up that way for six weeks from Mid April and had a ball- we went from Perth direct to Broome/Cape Leveque/Gibb RR / Mitchell Fales/ Kunanurra / Bungles / Broom and back to Perth. Once home and settled into the work grime again we realised maybe we rushed things a bit and could have spent more time expoloring and extended our stays at places such as Cape Leveque , King Edward River / Bungles etc etc. I cannot say what we could have missed seeing but next trip we will have an idea of what is what and will slow it down a bit.

The reason we did not take our Camper further than the King Edward River was due to the road conditions into the falls . From the King Edward River the corragations got worse , no not worse bl*** shocking! - we did consider turning around but everyone we spoke to said the road is rough but keep going - I glad we persevered - its really worth it , it was one of many highlights of our trip.
and the camp site at King Edward River is a great spot.

AnswerID: 31775

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 18:04

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 18:04
Hi Allan,

Appreciate your comments. We are very conscious of not wanting to be too rushed. It just isn't worth it, particularly with such a young family. We really want to have the flexibility to spend an extra night or two here or there if we want to and importantly, not spend every day in the car or breaking camp.

We felt 8 weeks should give us 6 weeks in the Kimberely allowing a week each way to get from/to Perth. As we have spent plenty of time around Broome, Dampier Peninsular, Kununurra and Wyndham in the past we aren't planning on spending much time in these places (just re-supply basically) prefering instead to spend the time in between. I would love to go back to Cape Leveque but if our itinery doesn't accommodate it in the time frame, we'll pass on it.

So given that do you think we we'll come home relaxed or is there still too much in the time frame?

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 22676

Follow Up By: Member - Alan - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 19:29

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 19:29

Sounds as if you have it all sussed out and having been through the area before you will know whats what and what you want to see etc.etc . - I would not have past the "rushed" comment if I had known you had previously spent time in the Kimberleys. I'm sure you will come home relaxed and with many great memories.
I must admit by the time we got home I was sick & tired of putting the camper up and down and after a week back at work I wanted to get out there again... - but you get that.


FollowupID: 22684

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 10:48

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 10:48
Thanks Alan,

I was a bit worried about our timeframe after you first lot of comments. We so don't want to be rushed. Having said that, the more I research our route and hear from others about "must see" spots, I'm beginning to appreciate just how much there is to see and do. One good thing seems to be that along the GRR most of the sights are regularly spaced so I don't think our limited daily travel time (because of our son) is going to be an issue on this stretch. Particularly with all the swimming for him to look forward to.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22732

Reply By: Blackie - Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 19:51

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003 at 19:51
The Derby Tourist Bureau publish a travellers guide to the Gibb River and Kalumburu Roads it gives a guide to what to do etc plus info on fuel availabilty etc.
They are published yearly so some info may be out of date, they do however include sheets with more up to date info.
They can also provide a wealth of other info.

AnswerID: 31907

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 11:52

Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 11:52
Thanks Blackie, I'll check it out. Can always get the 2004 version for the updates just before we leave if its available. In the meantime, the 2003 version will certainly help with our planning.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 22803

Reply By: Graham & Ann - Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 14:48

Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 14:48
Melissa and Troopie, We hope to be up that way for a couple of months next winter, hitting Halls Creek via the Tanami at the start of June before heading to the Pilbara for a few weeks in August. Thanks for your infut and looking forward to your trip report Cocka.

cya Graham1999 Pathfinder
17ft Evernew 'All Roads' van
AnswerID: 31976

Reply By: Coops (Pilbara) - Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 17:50

Thursday, Sep 25, 2003 at 17:50
e-mail me on allyn@wndotcomdotau and I'll send yoy what I have in electronic formCallawa Rd early October
AnswerID: 32007

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