Set in the remote wilderness of Western Australia, Mitchell Falls is a waterfall like no other. While it’s a bit of a trek to get there, the views and pristine landscapes surrounding Mitchell Falls are truly something special.
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Whether you’re visiting Broome or venturing off the Gibb River Road, a detour to Mitchell Falls is an unforgettable experience.
An icon of the Kimberley, Mitchell Falls is easily one of Australia’s most majestic waterfalls. The four tiers of sandstone create multiple cascades of water that plunge into sparkling emerald pools. The park is best seen by air with sweeping birds-eye views over the Mitchell Plateau.
There are a few ways to visit Mitchell Falls, including day tours from Kununnara and a self-drive from Gibb River Road. We chose to visit Mitchell Falls on a day tour instead of a self-drive ultimately to save time and wear-and-tear on our vehicle. Access to Mitchell River National Park is pretty remote and the road is in rough shape. You do need 4WD to get to Mitchell Falls and the track is slow going. Taking a day tour meant we got to explore the region without damaging our van and saved hours of driving.
We joined Kingfisher Tours for their small group Mitchell Falls Day Tour. Here is how it went.
About Kingfisher Tours
Kingfisher Tours is a sustainable tour provider offering a number of tours of the gorgeous Kimberley Region out of Kununurra, Western Australia. Their tours are equal parts adventure and luxury with knowledgeable guides and unique experiences.
We love that they’re a small operator that wants to celebrate the beauty of the Kimberley through conservation. Kingfisher Tours are all about enjoying the pristine wilderness with low-impact, eco-conscious travel with an emphasis on cultural preservation and conservation. They are committed to sustainability and empowering the community in everything they do!
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Our Day Trip to Mitchell Falls in Western Australia
Morning: Scenic Flight from Kununurra to Mitchell Plateau
We started off the day bright and early when Kingfisher Tours picked us up from our caravan park. We left Hidden Valley RV Park at 6 AM and headed to Kununurra Airport, picking up a few other passengers en route.
From there, we boarded a Cessna plane and embarked on a spectacular 2-hour scenic flight to Mitchell Plateau. Seeing the Kimberley wilderness from the air was incredible! The views of Kununurra, Wyndham, the Cockburn Ranges, and Pentecost River from above were unique sights
Mid-day: 4WD Tour and Helicopter Ride Over Mitchell Falls
Upon arrival at the Mitchell Plateau Aerodrome, we hopped into a comfortable air-conditioned 4WD vehicle ready for adventure. We made our way to the plateau through the beautiful (yet bumpy) 18 km drive through the ancient Livingstonia palms forest The road was terrible and every bump and corrugation made us glad we decided not to take our own vehicle!
After arriving at Mitchell Falls Campground, we made our way to the HeliSpirit base and jumped in line. A scenic helicopter ride over the falls is a must for any visitor and there were lots of people around with the same idea. Keep in mind that Mitchell Falls helicopter flights serve more than just Kingfisher Tours, so it can get quite busy. Campers, day-trippers, and other tours are all eager to fly over the falls too.
When it was finally our turn to jump aboard, our anticipation had been built high. But luckily seeing Mitchell Falls from above in all its glory was absolutely amazing. There are no doors on the helicopter so you get an unobstructed view of the falls that’s sure to be memorable. The ride was short (although felt longer than we expected) and was breathtaking from start to finish.
Afternoon: Waterfalls Walk and Picnic Lunch
Our helicopter dropped us off at the top of Mitchell Falls. It was here that we started our hike around the falls. We leisurely hiked around the falls, checking out the views from every possible angle. Our guide, Mick, made sure to point out the most Insta-worthy photo ops and was happy to snap photos of us along the way.
About an hour later, we linked up with the 4.3 km Punamii-unpuu Trail at Mertens Creek en route back to the Mitchell Falls Campground. (Punamii-unpuu is the traditional name of Mitchell Falls to the local Wunambal people.)
The track to camp followed a Grade 4 trail. It was a little rough but well-marked and easy to follow back to Mitchell Falls Campground. We certainly didn’t have any trouble when following our guide and the rest of the group, even when the trail took us right across the river!
We made a few stops along the way, to learn more about the flora of the area, admire some Aboriginal art and check out Big Mertens Falls (800 m from the campground) and beautiful Mertens Gorge (2.5 km from the campground).
Also, we saw a number of other visitors cooling off in the upper section of the falls. It is worth noting, that out of respect to the traditional owners of the land and due to the potential threat of estuarine crocodiles, swimming isn’t permitted below the falls.
We stopped for a picnic and a swim at Little Mertens Falls before venturing behind the waterfall to see Aboriginal rock art. We carried our individually packed lunch boxes all day and were excited to finally dig into the treats. Our lunch is salmon and salad followed by fresh fruit, and brownies and other treats. Mick carried hot water for tea and coffee, which he prepped for us while we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the falls.
From there, it was a quick stop behind the falls to enjoy Aboriginal art and a short 1km walk back to the Mitchell Falls Campground.
Late Afternoon: Return to Kununurra
After a long day, we arrived back at Mitchell Falls Campground and loaded into the 4WD. We cruised over to the Aerodrome and relaxed with snacks and a drink before our scenic flight back to Kununurra. It was the perfect way to end our day at Mitchell Falls. The aerial views over the Cambridge Gulf, Wyndham, and the Lower Ord wetlands did not disappoint!
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Overall, our Mitchell Falls day tour was fantastic. While the trip is on the pricey side, starting at $1,120 per person, we found it well worth it. It saves you hours from driving 500+ kms on rough roads that can wreak havoc on your car.
Beyond the commute, it was great to have a guide on the walking trail to shed insight and share stories about the area. Our guide showed us the best spots on the hike and perfect photo ops around the falls.
Though we did feel a bit rushed, we recognize that it was a lot to squeeze into one day. We would have loved to spend more time relaxing at Little Mertens Falls or sunbathing on the rocks at Mitchell Falls. It would also be amazing to see a sunset over Mitchell Falls to really round out the day. Maybe we will have to spend a night camping at the lodge next time to get our fix of waterfalls!
Have you visited Mitchell Falls or Mitchell River National Park? Did you self-drive or go on a day tour?
Disclaimer: Our day tour to Mitchell Falls was provided courtesy of Kingfisher Tours, but as always all opinions expressed in this article are our own.