Mitchell Falls and the Mitchell Plateau

Aerial view of Mitchell Falls from a scenic helicopter flight
Aerial view of Mitchell Falls from a scenic helicopter flight

The Mitchell Plateau is one of the most spectacular parts of the Kimberley. The four-tiered Mitchell Falls is on the the most impressive sights in the Kimberley, and it is an essential detour from the Gibb River Road.

The road is not as tough as it used to be, so there is absolutely no reason to be worried about visiting the Mitchell Falls.

From Drysdale Station a 105km drive will take you to the infamous King Edward River Crossing and the start of the Mitchell Plateau. The drive to Mitchell Falls through the Mitchell Plateau is unlike anything else along the Gibb River Road. The vegetation transforms from dry scrub to lush and almost tropical rainforest and livistonia palms dominate the landscape.

We also have a dedicated page with more information on the Mitchell Plateau Road Conditions and King Edward River Crossing.

 

Sights & Activities

The multi-tiered Mitchell Falls are the obvious highlight. After walking across the river above the falls, you’re greeted with the awe-inspiring sight of four majestic waterfalls powering down a series of huge pools.

The energy and forces of nature are incredible. It is without a doubt one of the best views in the Kimberley, and well worth the long drive from the Gibb River Road.


 

The long walk from the campground and day use area to Mitchell Falls is not particularly hard, but it can get quite hot, so be prepared. If you are reasonably fit and active, the walk should take about 1 hour each way. If you are slightly older it may take you 2 to 2.5 hours each way, as there are several small rocky sections to climb. The trail is well signposted.

Scenic helicopter flights are very popular at Mitchell Falls, and many people choose to walk to Mitchell Falls and return by helicopter (or fly into the falls and walk back.) There’s more information and some great aerial photographs below.

Little Mertens Falls on the walk into Mitchell Falls
Little Mertens Falls on the walk into Mitchell Falls

Not far into the walk you’ll reach Little Mertens Falls, where a wide and stunning 10m waterfall cascades into large and incredibly scenic pool. It’s the perfect place to cool off on the walk back to the campsite.

There is also some impressive Aboriginal art on the rocks and it’s also possible to walk under an overhang and behind the falls.

Towards the end of the track, you’ll cross a section of shallow water. This is Big Mertens Falls. It is a huge 60m sheer drop, and you can view it from the other side of the water crossing.

Take care here. The rocks can be slippery and in 2012 a tourist died when she fell over the edge while taking a photograph.

Big Mertens Falls
Big Mertens Falls

The final crossing to the Mitchell Falls viewing area is well signposted. If the water level is too high (eg after heavy rains) at certain times the rangers will close this section of the river. Once on the other side, there is walking track that leads to a viewing area that looks straight into Mitchell Falls. It is an incredibly impressive sight.

The awe inspiring Mitchell Falls
The awe inspiring Mitchell Falls

For those wanting to explore the country further north, there is a tough 4WD track to Surveyors Pool and Port Wanderer on the coast. This can be a proper 4WD track, so it’s a good idea to talk to the ranger and other campers to get the latest information about the track conditions. There are excellent views of the ocean and scenic islands out to sea. There is no swimming on the coast due to saltwater crocdiles.

Back towards the Kalumbaru Road and near the King Edward River crossing, there are two large sites with ancient Aboriginal rock art. They are quite easy to find.

Aboriginal Art near the King Edward River
Aboriginal Art near the King Edward River

Helicopter Flights at Mitchell Falls

Helicopter view of the coast near Port Wanderer
Helicopter view of the coast near Port Wanderer

Scenic helicopter flights over Mitchell Falls are very popular. The flights are operated by Slingair, and the helicopter base is right next to the campground.

Flight options range from short tours which offer a quick view of the falls, to more extended trips which also fly over the Mitchell Plateau and Admiralty Gulf.

Many people choose to be dropped off or picked up by the helicopter at Mitchell Falls. That way you save yourself half of the walk.

Prices start at $115 for the shorter helicopter flight options.


 

Camping and Accommodation

There is a large DEC campsite at Mitchell Falls, with quiet and generator areas.

Camping costs $7 an adult per night. Mitchell Falls is a very popular destination and the campground can be busy during the peak dry season months. National park vehicle entry fees also apply.

There are toilets but no showers at the campground. Most campsites also have fire pits. Although you are not allowed to collect firewood in the national park, there is a well signed firewood collection “zone” on the road in.

There is also the upmarket Michell Falls Wilderness Lodge, run by Kimberley Wilderness Adventures and APT. Luxury tented cabins with twin or king double beds, and private decks. Meals are included and prices start at $265 a person.

Camping at Port Wanderer - the water looks inviting but is full of saltwater crocodiles!
Camping at Port Wanderer – the water looks inviting but is full of saltwater crocodiles!

For those who want to stay at Port Wanderer, there is bush camping at various sites. This is saltwater crocodile country, so be very careful and park well away from the water. There can be annoying sand flies at times.

At the King Edward River there are two large and very spacious DEC campsites. Camping costs $7 per adult per night. There’s also good swimming nearby.

 

Can I bring my dog to Mitchell Falls?

No pets are allowed into Mitchell Falls National Park.

 

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