Along with the scenic beauty, remoteness and wilderness quality, one of the main reasons so many tourists visit is for the waterfalls of the Kimberley. The region is loaded with mountains ranges and rivers that have produced deep gorges and plunging waterfalls, ranging from the Mitchell Falls to divine watering holes.
If you have the time and sense for adventure, the Mitchell Falls of the Mitchell Plateau, up in northwest Kimberley, are an absolute must. These are the most powerful Kimberley waterfalls, arranged in a stepped, cascading configuration. The best time to see these is just after the wet season when the roads reopen.
Many of the gorges on the Gibb River Road have waterfalls and these are a lot easier to access than Mitchell. Bell Gorge has the best of them, with its u-shaped cliffs and cascading water. It also boasts great swimming potential, though it does get very busy as a result since it lies just off the main touring route.
Nearby Lennard Gorge is less visited, tougher to access and involves some walking, but the trio of falls here are beautiful. There’s a lovely pool at the bottom and it is all enclosed, giving it a more intimate feel. Adcock Gorge is also close to the Gibb River Road and features a nice, green pool and some intriguing hiking up top.
If you find yourself here in the wet season and the big waterfalls of the Kimberley are inaccessible, there are options near Kununurra. Middle Springs is one of the most impressive and has many pools and a picnic area, while nearby Black Rock has higher falls and a deeper pool. Both are down Parry Creek Road.
Other Kimberley waterfalls to take in include spring-fed Molly Springs (30kms from Kununurra) and the spectacular Grotto (70kms from Kununurra), with its vertical cliffs and permanent waterhole, while offshore at the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago is the curious Horizontal Falls.
The Mitchell WaterFalls
Lying on the lower course of the rugged Mitchell River is perhaps Australia’s most spellbinding set of waterfalls. These remote, cascading, multilayered falls plunge over several layers of Mitchell Plateau limestone and come complete with gorges and lots of opportunity to swim in the dry season.
The Mitchell Falls are a part of the Mitchell River National Park today and although it is a big drive to get there along an unsealed road, it is well worth it at the right time of year. Come too late and there might only be a trickle, while the road is closed and impassable during the wet season.
There are myriad plunge pools to swim at and some nice walking from the parking area and campground. The drive ends at Merten’s Creek, which is a few kilometres’ walk from the falls, from where visitors can also take a scenic flight that takes in nearby Surveyors Pool.
The Mitchell Plateau is also home to various intriguing plants and animals, including the fan palm and dozens of birds and reptiles—the saltwater crocodile inhabits this area. If you’ve come to swim, there is actually easier swimming and bathing at Bell Gorge, farther south, though you cannot beat the majesty of the Mitchell Falls. In addition are traditional Aboriginal rock art sites and the local Wunambal folk help run things here.
As this area is so remote, access is by four-wheel drive and off-road camper trailers only. While there are basic facilities at Drysdale River Station—which is en route along on Kalumburu Road—carrying food, drink and fuel extras is an absolute must. You should allow at least four days for the round trip, with the Kalumburu Road turn off from Derby over 400kms in itself. It is closer when approaching from Kununurra.