The day began like all others, we got up. The drive to Mitchell Falls was estimated to take us around 4-5 hours, so we headed off quite early with myself driving. About 10km after turning off the Kalumburu road onto the track to Mitchell Plateau, there was a water crossing. As we went through we noticed on the other side there was a tyre sitting in the middle of the path. Alex jumped out to give it a squiz. At first we thought we had found a tyre exactly the same as ours, bonus free tyre! However after Alex rolled it up the hill towards where I had parked the car (giving him a little extra distance to walk) we saw it was just that little bit too small. But being good samaritans we thought we would bring it with us to the camp ground in case anyone was desperately searching for it. We shoved it in the backseat, where there was just enough room for a tyre among all our food boxes and my giant toiletries bag.
With an average speed of 20km/h we arrived at the campground inside Mitchell Plateau National Park after just over 5 hours driving, and we didn’t even break for lunch! Definitely a long ass bloody drive.
When we arrived in the camp we saw a group of people who had been at each other place we had stopped along the Gibb River Road. We drove by and said hello. Before we could offer up our lost and found tyre, the first thing they asked us, something other people around the camp also came by to ask later, was did you loose anything off your car? This gave us the perfect moment to present the tyre we had found, and, it wasn’t there’s. In answer to this question we were quite fortunate in not loosing much, other than a few screws on our rooftop tent thankfully. But the time it took us to get there when it was only around 150km, and the quality of the road, this question was not surprising.
The second thing our new friends (we like to think we became friends after bonding over the terrible track) asked us was how did you find the road in? They did not give us a chance to really answer, loudly confirming what we thought, saying and I quote “it was absolutely shit house”. This definitely summarised the road quite well!
Whilst setting up I noticed that our things were a little dusty looking. Upon closer inspection, or rather not so closely, everything was covered in a thick coat of dust. This was because half of the journey up to Mitchell Plateau we had kept the windows down. Not many cars went past and we did not think too much of it at the time, however the entire inside of the car was and is still extremely dirty. It matches the outside of the car at least…
Now whilst setting up we also of course used the toilets at the campground. I know this sentence leads into an uncertain end, but I promise I am only pointing out our use of the toilets so you can admire the signage they had in there…
After setting up, and me attempting to clean the dust off everything a little, we took a little walk to Little Mertens pool, only a 15 minute walk from our tent. When we arrived there was only one other couple there, enjoying the sun shinning right on a small bit of the falls where you could sit and have the water cascade over your back. The couple got up and came to chat with us, and we chatted for about half an hour just about travels from them and us, and of course the drive in that day. A seriously lovely couple from Carnarvon who were just wonderful to chat with.
Alex and I relaxed in that little spot for a while and then headed back to camp. Only when we looked at the map on the way back did we realise that we had not actually been sitting it Little Merten’s pool, which was actually below where we were, but we had been sitting directly above on the falls themselves. Opps, it was still a spectacular place to sit, a natural spa.
That night we cooked the best dish, good old Jamie Oliver’s carbonara again. At this point our fresh food was dwindling down so some pasta seemed like a nice and easy idea, it was amazing! Definitely a great end to a long ass day in the car, after all its always great to celebrate sitting all day with a meal of dense pasta…
That night was especially warm, it had been quite a lovely temperature previous nights but this night it was so lovely we had our back window open also. Because of this we were also awake super early!
Many people were up and on their way to Mitchell Falls by 6 and 7am, we were not far behind leaving camp at 7:47am, a new record for us. Before we left we thought it best to pack up camp, making it easier for us when we got back. Our car sat there looking very well used, while that spare tyre sat next to it, clean and still unclaimed.
As it was so early it was also nice and cool. This in combination with a majority of the walk going downhill made the trek to the falls really lovely. The walk, as stated in the information guide, had estimated it to take around 4-5 hours return. Walking there we only took 1 hour and maybe 10-15 minutes. Safe to say after all the hiking on the Gibb and before in Karijini, we have become master hikers!
With our map in hand we inspected the many views of the falls. The best view of the falls, which was not on the map or technically permitted, was past the spot they had marked on the trail. Everyone seemed to know of this spot so I guess it wasn’t all that bad. We walked all the way round the cliff until you could go no further and climbed up onto some rocks with full view off all 5 pools.
Right when we arrived everyone else seemed to be leaving and we had the best view all to ourselves for a few moments. We were joined by the couple from Carnarvon who sat with us on the rock for a bit just staring at the beautiful waterfalls. They had arrived by helicopter so they showed us some footage and told us a bit about the ride, then we all decided to head back. Of course taking some pretty cool pictures first.
On the walk back the sun had of course risen so it was lovely and warm. Along the way we decided to actually swim at Little Mertens pool. So once we found the very obscure track leading down, we made our way there. The group of people who had asked us about the road when we arrive the day earlier, were also there. Whilst in the water we found out they were from a small town called Catan (no idea on the spelling or where in fact the town is exactly…), in the Barossa Valley in Adelaide and they were travelling the Gibb and the Tanemi tracks. We told them a little bit about our travel plans too and overall it was a nice little chance to again talk with some people. Our swim did not last too long as the water was a little fresh, but also a little murky with algie floating around, so we got out and back to camp we went.
Being up so early meant that we were then back from the walk quite early, arriving back at camp around 12ish. As our car was already packed up, it was easy to just get in the car and start the long journey back out of the national park. We left the lost tyre where we had set up our camp, and to this day we assume it may still be there at Mitchell’s campsite. Probably hidden away in the rangers shed, sadly without a home.
On the drive out of Mitchell Plateau Alex drove, just so he could experience how wonderful the road really was. As you can suspect he hated it even more having to drive it. I read my book a little to help pass the time, of course also being a good passenger and providing excellent music and refreshments along the trip. There was a point after an hour or so where we just wanted to stop, to get away from the rattling. We finally found one of the rare stopping points and there were a few other cars. One of the cars had popped a tyre but then plugged it, however one plug had not done the job, instead he had used over 7 I think. In his eyes the tyre now was fine and would get them back to NSW no problem. We were really impressed and amused by the method of fixing, making use of what they had I guess. We decided also in that moment that maybe a plug repair kit was a good thing to have when driving on tracks like this…
Whilst stationery you could hear one or two other cars coming along the track, but you would hear the rattling of everything inside their car first before hearing the engine itself. It was hilarious and shocking at the same time, just to think that our car sounded the same. And we felt all those bumps and rattles, on the trip up and the trip back down.
The trip back down however took us an hour longer, totaling in a 6 hour trip. This was not due to Alex’s driving skills as he is a legend behind the wheel, but the quality of the track. Somehow over night the track quality had deteriorated from shit to utterly disastrous shit! I apologise for the language but there is no other way to describe it, it was just plain old shit.
But we survived the track, we came out completely shaken in the literal sense and hoping it contributed to significant weight loss. After all that shaking however all that we did loose was a number plate. Yep that’s right, our car rattled so much that it rattled our number plate right out of the screws, which were still attached to the car!
When we realised it was missing we were about halfway back to Drysdale Station, not that there is much you can do in a situation like that. But oh my goodness we could not stop laughing. After all that driving we were bound to loose something, but never did we think it would be our license plate. A million questions went through our heads, like how does one deal with this situation? Will we get a fine if pulled over? And how bloody expensive is it going to be to get a new one? But most of all it was just hilarious.
So with half the drive to go and half a registered car we continued our journey. Around 40km from Drysdale Station we noticed a car on the side of the road, this same car had in fact been there when we drove up the day before. They had set up their camper trailer as if they had just found a nice spot on the road and decided to chill there for a night or two. When we stopped to ask if everything was all alright the couple mentioned that something had given way in their axel that affected their driving and they were not going anywhere. They had got hold of a phone and called a tow truck, who had said they would be picked up that afternoon.
With their reassurance we continued driving, unable to offer them a seat in our car anyway. When we arrived at Drysdale Station we asked at the bar about the tow truck, as it was dark when we arrived back and we were uncertain they would now be picked up. They said it wasn’t going to get there until the next day, maybe…because after all nothing works that fast out in the bush. With not much we could do, we hoped the couple were confortable and had a selfish moment of feeling blessed that only our number plate and some bolts had fallen off our car.
Arriving when it was dark meant that again a beer was in order. This more specifically had to do with the fact that the road just took it out of you and we needed alcohol. While having a drink each of us took turns in calling our parents, just to touch base. We called from an old fridge with a phone inside, definitely doing it in style in the bush.
When putting our beer bottles in the bin Alex walked by the sign stating what was on offer for dinner as the station also had a restaurant. He said to the man behind the bar in passing as a joke “ahh roast chicken sounds delicious”. The man instantly said are you hungry? Um of course we were, so instead of slaving over our little bunsen burner cook thingy, we piled our plates full of roast chicken, gravy and VEGGIES, even if they tasted like ones from a can. It was so amazing, and even though we ate so much roast, they also had a desert offering, so we took some of that too. As you can see below I was a little too excited for the whole gravy situation…
After driving 6 hours for 150km there really is no worry about eating too much, after all we shook so much weight off from the rattling it was all right to pig out…right?