Mitchell Falls is probably one of the most iconic places in Kimberley with endless crowds queuing up for the photo each and every day from late April until November, despite the two hours long walk from the carpark. Others choose to see it from the bird-eye view; the helicopters fly back and forth all day like bees collecting the nectar and boy they are equally productive!
I wonder how many people who visited Mitchell Falls had a thought crossing their mind: "how amazing would it be to have this place only for yourself?"
Well, with a little bit of effort you can find out yourself!
It was 3am when the alarm woke me up. I quickly got up, had a bowl of cereal and half an hour later I was ready to go. I packed all my gear the day before so I didn't waste anytime in the morning. It was pitch black. And quite chilly. I began the hike along the well marked trail.
It's strange how our brains work: during the day I would walk carelessly enjoying the views, but when it's dark, strange thoughts are going through my mind. I guess it's something we inherited from our stone age ancestors when humans were chased by big predators and had to be cautious at all times in order to survive. Every little noise makes my hair stand up and I catch myself thinking about such silly things like big foot or aliens. I'd hate to shine my headtorch at something I wouldn't want to see. I try to focus my thoughts back on the task. Suddenly I hear a loud noise of snapping branches and struggle just few meters away. A petrified wallaby darts into the darkness. Little bugger scared the living thing out of me! I wonder who got a bigger fright? Him or me? Oh well, it made me feel a bit better: it's only in my head - I thought.
Finally I arrived at the Big Mertens Falls - I knew I wasn't far. Another few minutes and I was at the top of the falls. When I camped at the King Edward River campsite the night before, the caretaker told me about the shortcut crossing the river just above the falls, which used to be the actual trail to the view point, but over the years someone thought it's too dangerous to cross a knee deep river just above the falls, so they extended the trail by extra 1.5km to go around. The water felt quite pleasant despite the chilly morning, and soon I was on the other side. It was still dark and I could only hear the falls rumbling down below, magnifying the experience. From here it was just a matter of following the edge of the big gorge and finding the way down from the big boulders little bit further before merging with the official trail leading to the view point.
It was 4:40am when I arrived at my previously selected spot. It was still too dark to take any photos, so I just sat down at the edge turned off the light, listened and looked. The sky was partially covered by a thin layer of clouds and the moon was shining just enough light to make sense of the features in front of me. 30 minutes later it started getting light and the colors started pouring into the sky. It was magical - just me and the most amazing view in front of me. It was worth the early start. I quickly forgot about the noises on my way in, the big foot and the aliens. Nature has put its daily display of the fireworks and I couldn't keep up with the changing light while setting up my camera.
While shooting for the last few days around different locations in Kimberley, I noticed that the light explodes with the most amazing colors shortly before the sunrise, waking up some spectacular highlights in the rocks, just to die literally few minutes later, when everything becomes flat and boring. There's still some nice colors out there, but it's nowhere near the beauty of that short moment - 5 minutes - not more than that. Gotta be very quick if you want to capture it in the multi-frame composition like the one I was taking.
The sun was still below the horizon, I reviewed my shots, and sat down for a bit longer just to enjoy the moment and have a snack. Sitting in one spot makes you feel cold and I was looking forward to the first rays of sun. The clouds made a beautiful backdrop to my composition and their colors were just amazing. The falls were roaring in the background and yet everything was so peaceful: not a smallest breeze and still not a single body around, not a sound of a helicopter. One could not ever imagine it more perfect - as if I went back in time 100 years when only the native people knew about the existence of this place. It's hard to believe that the first Europeans explored this area in early twenties of the last century and the camp was only established on the plateau in 1965! How much has this place changed since...
The sound of the first chopper warming up the engine back at the campsite announced the upcoming craze. It was time to head back.e back at the campsite announced the upcoming craze. It was time to head back.