King Edward River
06.06.2017 - 08.06.2017 33 °C
Our destination for today was going to be Drysdale River Station to stay for one night before moving on to King Edward River campground but the road was so good that we arrived at Drysdale before 9am. So after filling up with water and fuel and using the pay phone in the fridge to book a helicopter flight into Mitchell Falls for 8:45am the following day we set sail for King Edward River. The Kalumbaru road from Drysdale to the Mitchell Falls Road turnoff was in excellent condition and we made good time, setting up camp in the Munurru campground just past the King Edward River crossing.
You won’t find a better campground than Munurru, the sites are huge and a long way apart in a very large campground beside the King Edward River. The campground has brand new toilets spread throughout the sites, which are grass in amongst trees for shade, each site has a firepit and due to the spacing of the sites there is no noise or dust. The river is close by for swimming or to get water if needed and some areas of the river have steel pool ladders to make entering and exiting the river easy. A 200m walk takes you to the waterfall which was flowing strongly and there is a walking track along the river. The only issue was lots of very small mosquitoes which were active during the day but disappeared late afternoon. They just seemed to like buzzing around your face rather than biting you.
There are two aboriginal rock art sites nearby which have some very good examples of the different styles, all an easy walk from the car parks at the sites. The first site is 2km back towards the Kalumbaru road and the second larger site is 5km down the road toward Mitchell Falls. The larger site is spread over a bigger area and has quite a lot of paintings to see. This site was also a burial site and you could feel the energy here as you walked into a circular rock area with a cave on one side. This was and still is a very special sacred place and respect should be shown when visiting here. It is a privilege to be able to visit places like this so let’s hope visitors show respect and allow these sites to remain open to the public
Mitchell Falls was very impressive both from the air and from the ground however the road you have to drive to get there was 2 hours of hell. It is 76km from the Munurru campground to the Mitchell Falls car park and the first half of that was the worst. The corrugations were relentless and unavoidable, seemingly shaking the car to pieces interspersed with large rocks, washouts, holes and ditches. The second half of the track had fewer corrugations but instead you had rocks. We left camp at 5:30am to give us plenty of time to get there, we had to be there 30 minutes before our flight time to pay, get weighed and to go through a briefing. The word from other travellers was that it would take 2 hours 30 minutes to drive the road but we did it in 2 hours being careful not to take it too quickly.
About 13km before Mitchell Falls we encountered a large tree which had fallen across the road due to a fire which had burnt out that area. The tree was too large to move so I cleared a path through the surrounding bush and drove around it, just managing to squeeze between trees. The chopper flight was awesome with just the two of us and the pilot so we had open door seats each side which was great for taking photos. Deb was terrified and hanging on for grim death but we landed on top of the falls and disembarked to go and view the falls in all their glory. The flight only lasts 6 minutes but the views over the falls and surrounding area was fantastic. After lots of photos of the huge amount of water cascading over the falls we had to cross over the area above the falls by wading over slippery rocks to reach the track back to the car park.
After crossing over we decided to have a swim in the pool above the falls to cool off and have a snack and a drink. Not far along the return track we came to a beautiful creek area covered in white and purple water lilies and home to a freshwater crocodile which was floating among the lilies. Mertens Falls was next and was also a very impressive waterfall with a huge drop into the narrow gorge below. Little Mertens Falls was our next stop and what a great place this is. It had a double waterfall nowhere near as high as Mertens but the pool below is a beautiful place for a swim or just to sit and admire the beauty that is abundant here. It is lush with vegetation and rocky cliffs either side and the best part is that you can walk around behind the waterfall and look out through the falling water or check out the amazing aboriginal rock art on the walls there. We had lunch and a swim here and also explored the top of the falls where you could see a bushfire that was very close to the falls with thick black smoke and orange flames leaping into the air. There was loud crackling as the bush turned to flames and there were lots of birds circling waiting for the prey to be flushed out by the fire.
After a fantastic day it was back to the car for the ride from hell back to the campground. It was an early night after a big day and the following day was spent relaxing, visiting the waterfall near the campground, catching up on this blog and a swim in the river. At night we sat around the fire and enjoyed our last night in this wonderful part of the world.