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Mitchell Falls

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October 14 10 minute read

Mitchell Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. If you explore the nearby tracks, you’ll also discover rare vehicular access to the breathtaking remote Kimberley coast. 

Mitchell Falls
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Gen and I returned this year for our second visit. We were particularly keen to see Mitchell Falls at higher flows and drive north out to the coast.

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After our hike in Purnululu National Park and canoeing trip down the Ord River, we were ready for some time back in the LandCruiser and headed west along the Gibb River Road.

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From Gibb River Road, you need to head north and travel almost two-thirds of the way to Kalumburu along the Kalumburu Road before heading west along Wanderer Road.

Like Gibb River Road, conditions vary along Wanderer Road depending on how recently the grader has passed. Still, typically the road into Mitchell River National Park is more corrugated and bumpy.

If you’re new to remote travel, don’t be deterred; after all, it isn’t technical off-roading. Moreover, with a reliable vehicle, good tyres and suspension and lighter loads, it’s unlikely you’ll have an issue. 

Drysdale River Station is the last stop. You will want to fuel up here, and for some, it’s a great place to rest a night and leave larger caravans and camper trailers behind.

From Drysdale, it’s a great, albeit corrugated, drive into the National Park. While fires are usually allowed in the park, firewood collection isn’t, so be ready to stock up before the sign. Our fire pit doesn’t need much wood, so we usually carry a small amount with us for times like this.

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We arrived late afternoon and luckily found a great campsite available. It was the same spot we’d stayed at on our last visit, and it was comforting that little had changed between our visits.

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The next day we left our base camp in the National Park behind and headed north. The road starts as a dual-lane dirt road similar to the Gibb but drops back to a single track. 

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Mitchell Falls
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As we wind our way closer to Walsh Point, the track becomes more technical. Again, it’s not difficult, but low clearance vehicles would scrape, and it was easier to use the low range on a couple of steeper sections.

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From high on the scarp, and then intermittently, as we made our way to sea level, the views across Port Warrender and the Lawley River National Park are breathtaking.

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Near sea level, unique sections of fossilised shells lay compressed against vast areas of solid bedrock.

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Further along, stunning boab trees lined the track beside pristine blue waters; it is such a magical spot.

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While the waters were tempting, we were more than happy to leave our canoe firmly strapped to the roof and stay clear of the saltwater crocodiles, which since protection, are now at record levels.

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While it was great to see people fishing, I think I’d need a bigger tinny to relax up here truly. 

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The next day we hiked into Mitchell Falls. It’s an 8.6km return, and it seems the helicopter operator has done an excellent job convincing travellers it is a gruelling hike. While there are a few short scrambles, the hike is actually pretty easygoing.

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Mitchell Falls
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It is a stunning hike and a welcome break from driving. By all means, take a helicopter one way for the views, but the walk is a highlight too.

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Mitchell Falls
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We arrived at Mitchell Falls and were thrilled to take off our boots to cross – the Mitchell River was flowing higher this visit.

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We then traversed and headed downstream on river left, and it’s here where there are the same great vantage points of the stunning Mitchell Falls.

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It’s a stunning place to settle in and spend the day. There are pools above the falls that are safe for swimming as well as Mertens Falls for another cool down on the way back to camp.

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If you are planning a trip along the Gibb, don’t be put off by the distance into Mitchell Falls or the corrugations, it’s an incredible place.

Last Fuel before Mitchell Falls

It’s a long way into the Mitchell Plateau. However, the last fuel is available at Drysdale River Station on Kalumburu Road. 

There is camping here, and many travellers with caravans choose to leave them here and head in to to the Mitchell Plateau with their rooftop or ground tent. 

Camping at Mitchell Falls

Camping is available at Mitchell Falls Campground. Like many campsites in the Kimberley, it is a remote area and is suited to well-equipped travellers.

Traditional Owners

The Wunambal Gaambera people are the traditional owners and joint managers of the Mitchell River National Park. 

Uunguu Visitor Pass

An Uunguu Visitor Pass is required to visit this area. These can be purchased online or from Drysdale River Station. 

Trip Planner App

The Adventure Curated Trip Planner app (launching soon) makes creating gear and food lists, calculating vehicle and camper trailer/caravan load weights, planning your itinerary and storing documents a breeze. For more details click here.

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Mike Collister has spent his life outdoors. He has represented Australia as a slalom kayaker, guided whitewater expeditions in Nepal, and taught outdoor education and wilderness medicine. He’s paddled the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River in the wet season and across the Bass Strait and is an avid photographer, overlander and camper.