Woke up to a beautiful day – no rain, yay!! Still no permit and the word going around the camp was that they would not be because a car had been washed off the river crossing late yesterday. Feeling a bit sick for the people we had seen setting off yesterday and wondering who was the unlucky one. We found out later that the car had been washed off at Carson River, which was much further north near Kalumburu and they should not have been on that road. I also do not think it was a traveller. A group of know it all grey nomads who had arrived late last night declared we would not be getting our permits and were leaving. They also said we had to go back and see Bell and Manning Gorge, because you cannot ‘do the Gibb’ without seeing them. We thought we could match them a Galvan’s, raise them an Adcock and trump them with Mitchells. Someone should teach those oldies patience.
Therefore, with little other option we spent the morning ‘chillaxing’ and forming a backup plan or two. Plan 1. Drive to Mitchell Falls. Plan 2. If no permits, we would go on the flight to Mitchell Falls and leave the nest day. As the time ticked on plan 2 was looking like the more likely option. So Leah and I were in booking flights for that afternoon, when in came Anne the manager with a fist full of permits, including those of the long departed know it alls.
Permit description – “Extreme caution crossing King Edward and Drysdale Rivers as river levels may change. Extreme caution as road wet and boggy in sections. Driver responsible for above decisions and council accepts no liability for vehicle damage.” Wow! We were getting varying reports on the level of the King Edward River Crossing anywhere from 650mm to over 900. We thought since we had the permit we would go up, see and make up our own minds. As Otto said, it was only two hours away.
Back to plan 1, mega excited, and a fair bit nervous we packed up at super speed and set off at about 11. We had to cross the Drysdale River. Note Tom’s toy on the front of the bonnet.
A bit over an hour up the road we arrived at the Mitchell Plateau Track turn off, please note it is considered a track not a road, and then shortly after the famed King Edward River crossing.
It did not look good as it was a bit of a car park, and no one else with trailers. If they had them they left them at Drysdale opting to camp a night rather than tow them in. So, we did what you do in the Kimberley get out, have a chat, see if anyone else has done it, how they went…
Still not sure if would do it we marked the water level on a rock and had lunch, the level did not change. In the meantime, a couple of the waiting cars drove across with little difficulty, but they did not have trailers. The ranger waded across from the other side saving us the trouble and estimating the level as about 800mm. He said it was up to us if we wanted to go across. We took this as the go-ahead. Cameras ready, windows open and seat belts off we went.
The crossing was rocky and a little slippery, but the car and trailer handled it well. A little loss of traction near the end as there was a dip in the rocks but everyone else hit this as well. The Foxes followed with their Jayco off-road caravan, and were fine as well, the taping of the vents and openings that morning paid off and they did not get any leaks.
A short way up the track we stopped to see some rock art.
Then Mitchell Falls here we come. The Mitchell Plateau Track often resembled a river or river crossing. The road was good despite the water as under the water the road was solid. The drive of about 2 hours (thanks Otto) took us across the Mitchell Plateau and through beautiful eucalypt and fern palm forests, full of birds. All of us, especially the boys are excellent at identifying birds, especially the birds of prey.
We arrived at the campsite, set up camp right next to the helipad. We shared dinner with the Foxes managing to scrape together enough ingredients to manage tacos and then the Foxes set up their TV for a slide show of river crossing movies and photos from all cameras. It was a full moon and I do not know if it was this of the location but the dingoes were howling. Another exciting event was a massive plume of fire that burst into the air on the other side of the helipad. Due to four helicopters and a whole lot of Avgas near us, this was disconcerting. We sent the dads off to investigate, they discovered that the pilots were having a campfire and may have used a little accelerant to start it.
Music by the Natural Mystics