From Manning Gorge we had a big day planned, heading to Drysdale Station and then onto King Edward River campground, en-route to Mitchell Falls. The drive along the GRR to the turn off was pretty uneventful with the road being in pretty good nick, however once we hit Kalumburu Rd we encountered the worst road we have ever driven on, in regards to corrugations. The relatively short 65km drive to Drysdale Station took us over 2 hours of bone, car and caravan rattling fun. Thankfully on this section we only had one casualty each, being when our light bar on the front of the bull bar broke its metal brackets and came off, whilst our mates the Leeds had their UHF antenna simply give up and snap in half, all we can say is thank god for cable ties and duct tape!!!! We limped into Drysdale Station, where we sat on their lush green grass and had some lunch, then took a vote to keep pushing onto the campground at King Edward River, as we had been told by other travellers at Manning Gorge that it was an awesome place to camp with a great swimming spot to keep cool. Thankfully the next 110km of dirt road to King Edward was a bit smoother than the first bit, although it was still very rough in places, and after another 2 hours we rattled on into the campground. Unfortunately for us, the casualty list kept growing, with us losing all our tank water due to a simple to fix loose bung and the Leeds had some issues with the wind up mechanism on their van. We weren’t too fussed about the water as we still had another 70 litres in our jerry cans and water containers. As Leah, myself and the kids went and had a swim, Nik and Simon spent the next hour conducting some more bush mechanic repairs on the van, once again I believe duct tape and cable ties may have been involved.
The next day we spent the morning organising and packing the tent and car for our overnight trip to Mitchell Falls, another 65km trip which once again took us over 2 hours to complete. The roads up here are pretty tough and even though the grader had recently been through, in places it was still very rough as put simply you can’t grade or breakthrough the bedrock, it was about this time we inwardly decided that we were very glad that we had set the car up for such tough driving conditions. However, as we expected we had suffered another casualty, this time our winch controller bracket decided it had had enough and snapped clean off, so yes you guessed it, out came the cable ties and off we went without skipping a beat!!! The drive through the Mitchell Plateau, from King Edward to Mitchell Falls was awesome, almost tropical even, as the track in was literally littered with the fan palm, ‘Livistona Eastonii’, not surprisingly the guidebook states that the ‘Plateau has WA’s highest annual rainfall of 1400mm’. I also couldn’t help but to let out a nervous laugh as the info book I was reading stated that ‘the Mitchell Plateau is also home to the saltwater croc, the Taipan, the Death Adder and the King Brown snake, gulp…….. After we set up our camp at the Mitchell Falls campground, we set off for a short walk to Little Mertens Falls for a late afternoon swim, then back to camp to get ourselves organised for the hike into Mitchell Falls early the next morning.
The walk into Mitchell Falls was a relatively easy one, particularly as it was early so the sun didn’t quite have its full strength, however by the time we reached the falls we were all drenched in sweat and ready for a swim before we headed to the look out. After we had cooled down we dragged the kids away to the lookout and were not disappointed, the falls were amazing, from our vantage point we were lucky enough to see all four levels of the water falls, something we weren’t expecting.
We spent the next hour having morning tea at the lookout and had another swim before we said our goodbyes to the Leeds, who were excitedly getting a lift back to camp by the helicopter, and we hiked our way back by foot. This time it was a tad more difficult due to the heat of the sun, so when we went past our last water crossing we all simply sat ourselves down in the water to cool down. Once back at camp we ran into our new mates the ‘Hamiltons’, who we had first met at Silent Grove and the ‘Pinwheels’, who we had met the previous day at King Edward Campground and were fellow Expanda owners. I then literally had to drag Nik away as he managed to find a cold beer and had proceeded to sit down for what could be a lengthy chat!!!! So after packing up the tent, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the vans, where we cooled down with another late afternoon swim.
As reluctant as we were to drive back down the rough Kalumburu road, we headed off back to Drsydale Station, where we were able to refill our water tanks and then back onto the GRR for an overnight camp at Ellenbrae Station. Ellenbrae was a great little spot with awesome green grass on which to frolic and we were lucky enough to make it in time to taste some of their very yummy fresh scones, which we scoffed down for afternoon tea.
From Ellenbrae we were heading to our last leg of the trip and were very excited about the next adventures and destination on our OZLAP……