For years I've wanted to get into the
real Kimberley and now here I are, right up on the Kimberley
coast, and very nice it is to.
Technically we have been in the Kimberley
before, but it's the Gibb River road and Mitchell Plateau
that are the quintessential Kimberley, and we haven't been
to these areas until now.
Bradley finally gets to wet a line
and drop some crab pots, mostly to no avail, as he follows
in the footsteps of every other person I've watched trying
to get a feed from the ocean.
Frankly I don't know why people bother,
I guess some anglers do actually catch something, but everyone
I've seen has just wasted a whole day and a bucket of bait.
Yes I know he caught a fish on the
Ord River recently, but he towed that boat, outboard motor,
and related paraphernalia all around Australia, got the thing
wet twice, and caught one fish.
Still, if that's what presses your
buttons then go for it. I don't suppose crawling through the
mud trying to get a photo of a mollusc would be considered
fun by many people, but I get a big kick out of it.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Sat 3 Jun 2006
After some procrastination we finally strike
camp and move off, destination the Mitchell Falls campground. It's
only about 70k but still a two-hour drive.
with many national parks you are not allowed to collect firewood
within the park. Often this is not made obvious, but in the case
of Mitchell Falls there is a "Start of authorised firewood
collection zone" sign and an "End of..." sign.
Even though it's still some way to the campground
we stop off to pick up some wood. One of the great things about
the old-style bull bars is the fact that they stick out a long way
from the vehicle. This makes them look pretty damn ugly, but also
makes a good spot to carry assorted junk, like firewood.
A few days supply of firewood roped onto the bull bar.
When we get to the campground we are a bit disappointed,
it's OK, but not fantastic. And the constant sound of helicopters
You can go for scenic flights here, or just catch
a chopper into the falls to save walking.
I'm feeling lazy and not that inclined to walk
into the falls, so I get a Slingair Helicopter flight brochure.
When I read that it's a really difficult Class
6 walk, suitable for experienced bushwalkers with navigation and
remote first aid skills, I think "Bugger it, I'll go in next
I'm no stranger to hard bushwalks, but I just
couldn't be bothered.
Sun 4 Jun
After an early morning sortie to the Little
Mertens falls we have a lazy day.
falls are very pleasant and only about 800m from the campground.
You can walk behind the cascade, or if it's hot enough, through
it. You can safely swim here as well, and many people do. It's not
warm enough for me though, I don't get wet until it's well over
The stream at the top of Little Mertens falls.
Some scenes at the bottom of the falls.
A tick, jumping spider, and green tree ants dismembering a
Frogs on screw palm leaves.
Kevin is not as lazy as me though, and he heads
off along the main walk to the Mitchell Falls. He returns and informs
us that it's only an hour's walk, and an easy hour at that.
On top of that it's apparently not common for
the falls to be flowing, and at present they are running well.
We decide to stay another day and walk in.
Mon 5 Jun
We walk into the falls, leaving at 8AM, and arriving
before 9, without raising a sweat. Class 6 walk my arse, still Slingair
have to make a living I guess.
Kevin at the top of the Big Mertens Falls.
You have to cross the top of Big Mertens Falls
and then wade through some fairly deep water just before Mitchell
Falls. At this time of year the water is at crotch height, so be
prepared to get a little bit wet. Later in the season I assume it
would be much lower, but then the falls would not be flowing very
I spend several hours sitting on a ledge overlooking
the falls, it's a fantastic spot and I see little reason to go anywhere
Looking behind me into a cave I notice these dragonflies sheltering
from the heat.
When I crawl into the cave to retrieve my flash I notice a
wasp nest on the roof.
On several occasions the helicopter arrives to
pick up and drop off passengers.
You can catch a helicopter into the falls for $75 one way.
Shortly after we return from the falls I'm sorting
out my camera gear when I hear WHOOSH, closely followed by "ROB!".
I run around to the other side of the Cruiser
to find Chris trying to put out a fire. There's a leak in one of
the gas fittings, and it exploded when she lit the stove.
Of course we have a fire extinguisher, everyone
has one, but you'll never need it right? It will never happen to
you. That's what I used to think as well.
A quick squirt and the fire is out. The extinguisher
is also nearly out, they don't last long.
No harm done, we just have to spend half an hour
cleaning the powder out of the vehicle. The offending fitting just
needs tightening, but the hose is burnt, it still works but I will
have to set it in place and test for leaks every time we set up
camp as the slightest bend in the hose causes it to spew gas.
Note to self, always carry a spare gas hose for
Tue 6 Jun
Today we plan to drive to Port Warrender, it's
only about 50k, but reportedly a very rough track.
leave the Mitchell Falls camp at 8:30, reach the intersection half
an hour later, then turn left onto what the sign says is a "Rough
and un maintained FWD track".
From here it's only 38k to the campground, and
the sign is correct about being rough, it takes us four hours to
negotiate the washouts and steep shaley climbs.
Still it is worth it, what a fantastic place.
There's only room for a few groups to camp, with two main areas.
One is near the toilet and surrounded by tall spear grass. It's
airless with no views.
The other is on a huge rocky outcrop, with breezes
and fantastic views of the bay.
Guess which one we choose.
Our campsite on the top of a rock outcrop.
The view from our campsite.
Other campers return from fishing.
Wed 7 Jun
Bradley is going to drop the boat into the
water today, but first we must repair the trailer hitch he uses to
tow it with the quad bike.
some old steel tube, we cut it, then weld a piece to the boat hitch
using my battery-powered MIG welder.
We fix Bradley's tow hitch with my 24v MIG welder.
Then he heads off to the end of the track, about
a kilometre further on from our camp, where you can access the water.
Kevin and I give him a hand to get the boat into the water, then
I drive the bike back.
Bradley heads off through the spear grass to launch the boat.
Then I take the quad bike back to camp.
Bradley returns from placing his crab pots.
Chris on dolphin watch.
Thu 8 Jun
We've been noticing a bower bird flying into
the nearby bushes. On most trips he's carrying a twig or a shell,
so I decide to investigate.
find his bower, but the bird remains elusive. I make it my goal
to get some good photos of this bird before we leave.
While in the bushes I notice these green tree ants.
And some skinks in the undergrowth.
After relaxing for the afternoon I head down to
Late afternoon light down in the mangroves.
Fri 9 Jun
I get a few photos of the bower bird.
I finally get a handle on the bower bird's movements.
Then spend some more time prowling along the mud
flats. There's an amazing amount of life here and I'm fascinated
by the crabs.
Life on the mud flats.
There's been a sea eagle cruising the shore looking
for a feed, so I grab a fish frame and throw it out onto the mud
flats. The eagle passes several times checking out the remains,
then has a go at picking it up.
The eagle makes several flights past then tries to pick up
the dead fish.
Unfortunately it's too heavy for it. When the
eagle eventually gives up I move back into the mangroves.
A tangled world of mangrove roots.
I wouldn't fancy being shipwrecked on a coast
like this and having to fight my way through this tangle.
Sat 10 Jun
Finally I get some good shots of the bower bird,
by lying near the bower, dead still, the bird accepts me as part
of the scenery, and carries on as per normal.
The birds rearranges its bower.
After some time lying on the sharp shells in the
hot sun I'm getting pretty uncomfortable, so decide to go back onto
the mud flats.
A baby mud crab and sea snails.
Mudskippers are very cute, but also very wary and difficult
A fiddler crab expels a ball of mud from its hole, then sits
in the entrance.
Sun 11 Jun
The bower birds is back so I rush down to the
bower and get another few good photos of him titivating the nest.
The bower bird working on his house.
Kevin and Bradley try some fishing and check the
crab pots. No luck on all fronts I'm afraid. A croc chewed up one
of the crab pot buoys, and the tides have been all wrong for fishing.
The lads return from collecting the pots, then Bradley hitches
up the boat and brings it back to camp.
And speaking of tides, check out these two shots,
both of the same scene at high and low tide.
The bay at high and low tides.
This makes it difficult to tie up a boat because
it's mooring point can vary from 200m off shore to 200m on shore.
Bradley is constantly re-mooring the boat to keep it with dragging
distance of the water.
Naturally, if it gets too far from shore one is
not very inclined to wade out into the water and retrieve it, there's
to many snappers (crocks) around.
Mon 12 Jun
We leave Port Warrender and drive back towards
King Edward River. The first eight kilometres of track is really bad,
the next four pretty bad, and from there on it's just plain bad.
about the 12k mark we reach the top of a hill and can look back
at Walsh Point, our home for the past few days.
Views over Port Warrender and Walsh Point.
We did see this view on the way in of course,
but didn't know what we were looking at then.
Four and a half hours later we drive into the
King Edward river campground, and select a nice spot next to the
A neighbour has the bonnet of his car up, and
is working under it. His name is John, or at least that's what's
embroidered on his shirt, and he has a radiator problem. It seems
that he got water up into the engine bay when crossing the King
Edward river, and this caused the fan to pull forward and chew out
the radiator core (maybe I was right to use my tarp when we crossed).
With no spare radiator to hand he must fix the
damaged core, but not now. "I'm in no hurry" he says,
"I'll fix it tomorrow".
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