Mitchell Plateau

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesMitchell Falls Campsites & Carpark
FinishGibb River Rd & Kalumburu Rd
DifficultyDifficulty 4/5
Suitable for4WD 
Distance252.3 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed54.72 km/hr
Driving Time4 hrs 36 mins
Page Updated: 8 Dec 2015

Description

Mitchell Falls, a spectacular series of 4 waterfalls, is the main natural attraction of the Mitchell Plateau region. It is accessed via the Mitchell Plateau Road that heads in a westerly direction off Kalumburu Road in the northern Kimberley. The main walk to the head of the Mitchell Falls is 5km one way, taking about 1½ hrs from the campground. The walk is not difficult, but quite long given that once you've made it there you have to turn around and come back. Along the walk, you can stop to swim in Little Mertens Falls (now renamed to Mertens Falls), Big Mertens Falls (now renamed to Mertens Gorge) and other rockpools.

The alternative is to walk one way, and take a helicopter flight the other (bookings are required and can be made at the campground). Although there are no permanent buildings or infrastructure, the level of tourism is so high that during the 4 month peak season a heli-flight service operates from a temporary base, giving 4WDrivers the opportunity to get up above the trees and escarpment to view this incredible area from the sky. No trip to the Kimberley should be done without getting up in the air, whether by plane or helicopter. The unique aspect of this particular heli-flight however, is that it is a "no-door chopper", giving unobstructed views and an exhilarating 'wild thrill’. Flights by plane are also available from Kununurra and Drysdale River Station Homestead.

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Environment

The Mitchell River is a massive channel of water that flows through an ancient gorge from the Admiralty Gulf and there are a number of good waterfalls that can only be accessed on foot or by air.

The plateau is rugged with slopes, escarpments and eroded joints that have created narrow and deep gorges containing waterfalls and permanent pools. The most striking living feature on the rugged sandstone and volcanic plateau is the Livistona Palm, evidence of a past rainforest period. From the air, you can see the varied terrain of the Mitchell Plateau as it changes from dense valleys, 200 metre-high escarpments, narrow gorges, rivers and falls and slopes that run out to tidal mudflats along the coast.

From the ground, the sandstone plateau and tropical climate makes vehicle access challenging and seasonal in a remote and rugged area with little facilities. It's important to note that firewood is not to be collected within the boundaries of the national park reserve. Signs indicate where firewood can be collected on the way in and there's plenty of it! Bring an axe.

Preparation

It's quite an effort to get to the Mitchell Falls so plan to stay 2 nights if you can. You should also have a contingency plan if you encounter vehicle problems and are stuck making repairs. Unfortunately, this is quite common. The most common problem tends to occur to shock absorbers on the vehicle - there are no facilities here so take at least 2 spares. (Drysdale Station advise us that they do attempt to stock and fit common shocks). Shocks are a very important spare to take on any 4WD trip, but particularly through the Kimberley.

All travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness. In regards to remote travelling, we advise that you refer to the our Communications and Navigation articles for safety tips.

Permits

Permits are only required if you want to visit the Aboriginal town of Kalumburu. The CALM managed camping ground at Mitchell Falls is a large, well spaced out area with plenty of decent camps with large shady trees and a few long-drop ‘Eco-Toilets’. The campground backs onto the main walk to the falls near a shallow, quiet section of creek where fresh drinking water is currently available for collection and swimming is allowed. Please note that dogs are not allowed.

Road conditions are not mentioned as these vary greatly and are very subjective. Generally, the track is heavily corrugated with washouts and sudden obstacles. Please read for detailed reports and submit feedback.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol Drysdale River Homestead (diesel and ULP)
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 24 litres *4cyl 41 litres4cyl 50 litres
6cyl 39 litres6cyl 46 litres6cyl 44 litres
8cyl 39 litres8cyl 42 litres *
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

May to November would be the best time to visit Mitchell Plateau since very heavy rains occur during the summer months. Please note that the falls may dry up before October - each season is different.

Closest Climatic Station

Doongan
Distance from Trek Mid Point 23.08km NE
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C33.232.633.133.131.129.029.731.535.336.936.634.5
Mean Min. °C22.822.621.919.014.611.310.812.317.621.322.923.1
Mean Rain mm299.9243.8207.147.715.55.40.41.05.433.7115.1222.7
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

No supplies available elsewhere on Plateau except Drysdale Station - accommodation, tourist info, camping, counter meals, bar, general store, diesel and ULP. Credit cards accepted. No cash out.

Map

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What to See

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Where to Stay

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Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Mitchell Falls Campsites & Carpark to Mitchell Falls Road & Port Warrender Rd15.38 kmE79° 22 min
Mitchell Falls Road & Port Warrender Rd to Kandiwal4.92 kmSE131° 8 min
Kandiwal to King Edward River Crossing57.16 kmE103° 1 hr 10 min
King Edward River Crossing to Kalumburu Rd & Port Warrender Rd5.54 kmSE132° 7 min
Kalumburu Rd & Port Warrender Rd to Drysdale River Crossing106.19 kmS170° 1 hr 33 min
Drysdale River Crossing to Kalumburu Rd & Drysdale River Station Access1.84 kmS165° 1 min
Kalumburu Rd & Drysdale River Station Access to Drysdale River Station1.79 kmW271° 2 min
Drysdale River Station to Kalumburu Rd & Drysdale River Station Access1.79 kmE91° 2 min
Kalumburu Rd & Drysdale River Station Access to Kalumburu Rd - Gibb River54.64 kmS162° 44 min
Kalumburu Rd - Gibb River to Gibb River Rd & Kalumburu Rd3.06 kmS160° 2 min
Mitchell Falls Campsites & Carpark to Gibb River Rd & Kalumburu Rd252.3 km  4 hr 36 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

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