Drysdale rvr to Mitchell falls return... in one day?

For those that have just done a Kimberley trip this year...

Is it feasible to start from Drysdale river station in the morning, drive to Mitchell falls, see the falls properly and then drive back to Drysdale river in one day?

Last time I did this trip was in 96 and we called into Mitchell falls on the way to Kalumburu. This year we are not going that far and wish to see if it is possible to do Drysdale to falls and back in one day.

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Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 16:39

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 16:39
Depends if you want to pay $200 or whatever each for a 6 minute helicopter ride or walk in, and whether you want to break the suspension of your car.

It took me over 3 hours each way in August 2009 to drive from King Edward River to Mitchell falls . Many passed me in rental Cruisers and I met several at Drysdale who were cooling their heels for a week waiting for new shocks for their Landcruisers.

If the Kulumburu road and the Mitchell Plateau road were graded it may be possible but to me it would be a big ask, and you would be travelling at dawn and dusk, and there are plenty of Euros there.

So IMHO go to King Edward River and stay the night.
Regards Philip A
AnswerID: 397931

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:03

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:03
Oh yes, always a number of poor people waiting a Drysdale for spares, which can take a couple of weeks or so out of their holiday.


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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 16:45

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 16:45
Who knows what the condition of the road will be next winter? We did the trip (in 2008) from King Edward River into the Falls where we stayed overnight and had 2 nights there. Some people set up their camp at KER and did a day trip into the falls. We found the road from KER to the falls to be very badly corrugated and stopped every so often to let the shocks cool down a bit. Also we took the time to view the two magnificent art sites that are close to the KER campsites. We also walked to the Falls, exploring the art sites as we went, especially the one under Little Mertens falls, spent some time scrambling around at the falls and did the slightly extended helo trip back to camp.

So in answer to your question I guess it all depends on how you want to drive and what you mean by "see the falls properly" but my short answer would be no.


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Reply By: HGMonaro - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 17:18

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 17:18
in 2007 we did the following (scangauge data) and we weren't mucking around, so I'd say up and back would be a long day! Possible... but enjoyable?

(appologies in advance for terrible formatiing)
From, To, Distance, Time in hrs, Max Speed, Avergae Speed, Average L/100, Litres used
Drysdale River Station,Mitchell Falls,186,4,87,46,15.3,28.7
Mitchell Falls,Drysdale River Station,186,4.1,89,44,15.9,29.7
AnswerID: 397942

Reply By: Mick O - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 17:41

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 17:41
It would be possible from the KER to the falls with a walk in and a helicopter flight out but making it back to Drysdale would be pushing it if not impossible. Even if you were lucky enough to strike the grader (as we were), the road deteriorates within a couple of days due to the amount of traffic the area gets in peak season. Take two days and do it comfortably or first day from Drysdale and look at the falls.Camp overnight at Mitchell or KER campground and then head off first thing in the morning. It's only a few hours difference really.

Cheers Mick

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''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:02

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:02
It certainly would make it a very long day. Even the road between Drysdale and the Mitchell Plateau needs to be taken slowly, according to conditions. I would not recommend driving on roads in that area after dark. From Drysdale to the KE River crossing is not a long distance, but with the conditions (and it was still early in the season as we were there in June before the worst of the crowds carve up the roads) it was all we did in a day each way.

We also stayed the the King Edward River campground, which was lovely and in fact my favourite camp site of the whole trip. So nice, that after spending three or four days there, we called in for an overnight on the return from Kalumburu. We also looked at the Aboriginal Rock painting sites, one of which is very near the river crossing, and the other a few kilometres west of the campground.

Mitchell Falls was an all day trip; we packed up the camping gear planning to overnight at the falls parking area camp ground, leaving the caravan at the KE River campground. Most people were leaving their campers at the campground to visit the falls as the road has a reputation of being badly corrugated, and is narrow for the last few kilometres which creates problems when vehicles need to pass in either direction even without trailers. At least one of the dips is rather sharp and can damage larger caravans.

We left camp around 8 am which in hind sight was an hour too late. I got rather overheated on the walk from the car park/helipad to the falls, although cooling off underneath Little Merten Falls near the start helped. We hoped to take the slightly longer 'mudcrab' helicopter flight on for the return, but as it cost the same for two as for four, we hoped to get someone to share but this didn't eventuate so we just had the six minute 'taxi' back to the helipad. The 'taxi' flight is charged at the same rate per person regardless of how many passengers. They do a few loops over the falls as the chopper rises. We had booked the latest return chopper (allowing for 'mudcrab') which was around 4.30 pm. This gave us time to swim above the main falls and cool down on arrival, have our picnic lunch with friends from the campground, walk around to vantage points to photograph the falls, and swim and cool down again before meeting our chopper taxi. I welcomed the flight back rather than walk back again. We decided we still had enough daylight to return to our caravan at dusk without needing to overnight there. It was still a full on and tiring day.



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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:07

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 18:07
Pretty well all been said.
When we did it in 2008 there was 20km on the Mitchell Falls road that was atrocious. The grader was working the road but had got bogged. I was driving to conditions but still suffered a leaking shock which was replaced when I git back home.
AnswerID: 397947

Reply By: Tim Owen - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 21:38

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 21:38
I did day trip from KEW to falls inc walk in (slow inc few swims in different spots) and 45 min chopper ride north to coast from the top. I regret it. It was a massive day. Should have stayed up there at least one night to have a full day looking around.
AnswerID: 397984

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