Rose to a beautiful but wet morning. A heavy dew covered the ground, the tents, and our bags. We shook things out and tried to dry them as best we could before packing them up. We prepared carefully, since we’re leaving the tents and our luggage behind. We’ll just take a spare shirt and socks, cups, sleeping bags, and swim suits. Our drive today will be much too rough to pull the trailer that carries all our gear, so we’ll really be roughing it tonight.
Flies are bad here—not as bad as at Menu Camp, but the worst since then. (We were told that there were two bad places, so this must be number two.) Hard to write and swat flies at the same time.
Packed and on the “road” by 7:30. Driving was much rough, and even without the trailer, the 4WD, and John’s driving skills, were put to the test. Then up and onto the Mitchell Plateau. Livistona palms—slender, tall palms with dark fronds that are also known sometimes as fan palms or cabbage palms—began to outnumber eucalypts.
After a couple of hours of driving that was more reminiscent of bronco busting, we arrived at our rather desolate, rocky bush camp. We locked up the 4WD, then most of us started along the track to Mitchell Falls.
The three who did not join us on our hike headed for the helicopter pad nearby. They will get a one-hour tour, out over the wilderness and along the coastline, then will be dropped near the top of Mitchell Falls in time to join us for lunch. Then after lunch, three others (including me) will board the helicopter for our one-hour tour, ending back at the heliport near camp.
The hike in was fabulous, if rugged. I’m recovered enough by now from both jet lag and my fall in Kununurra to manage the climbing and scrambling quite well. The climbing was up and down huge boulders, which were generally in the shade. Only the flat parts of the hike were really hot and unprotected.
It took us about one and a half hours to reach the river above the first part of the falls. (Mitchell Falls is actually a series of increasingly impressive waterfalls.) The spot was spectacular, with shattered and worn rocks all around, and pandanus and paperbark trees in spots along the water.
Our long walk was rewarded with a dip in the clear, cool river. (We had our swimsuits in our day packs, so were prepared for this.) The water was as clear as crystal. Even while swimming we could see the bottom. We got out for a few minutes, to eat a light lunch, then had another quick swim before dressing for our helicopter ride (or the hike back for those not taking to the skies).