Back to Back Issues Page
Kimberley and NT News: The Mitchell Falls will open this season. Some updates from the NT.
March 08, 2021

8 March 2021, Issue #092

Please do not reply to this message.

To unsubscribe or change your address please use the links at the bottom of this message.
To contact me please use the contact page.

To sign up for this newsletter and receive the free Kimberley Pocket Guide go here.

In this issue:
  • Mitchell Plateau Open
  • Wet Season Update
  • NT Updates
  • Tip From A Reader: Emergency Communication


the Easter holidays are approaching and in a few weeks the first people will leave and head towards the Kimberley and the Top End.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding what this season will bring, one big question mark at least has now been resolved...

Your guide Destination Kimberley is still the most comprehensive and best advice for independent travellers to the Kimberley and I hope it continues!
We recommend it to everyone … and it is still compulsory reading for our new tour pilots every year.

(Steve Irvine, Managing Director of Shoal Air, on Jan 19, 2019. Read many more testimonials and reviews here.)

Mitchell Plateau Open

The whole Mitchell Plateau and the Mitchell Falls National Park had remained closed all of last year to protect the residents from COVID-19.
So naturally tourists have been concerned regarding this season. After all, the relevant State Emergency Laws are still in place and the majority of Aboriginal communities are still closed.

I know many of you have been waiting to get ANY information about the Mitchell Falls National Park and the campgrounds, so I am really happy to be able to bring you this news:
Last week the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation announced that yes, the Punamii Uunpuu area will open for tourists this season!

All the places covered by the Uunguu Visitor Pass (the area called the Ngauwudu Road Zone) will open. This includes the Mitchell Falls themselves, all the walks, the campground inside the national park, the campground at the King Edward River and the one at Walsh Point.

Purchase of passes is possible again.
This is now done via the excellent new website, so the link I had in Destination Kimberley isn't working any more.
The new page to buy passes is here:

(The link in Destination Kimberley has been updated of course, as have many other details, but there is still more to come.
To find out more about those updates and how you can access them, see the last section in the last newsletter.)

Theoretically, from the traditional owners' side, the area and all the campgrounds are open already.
Practically you still can't get there of course, because the roads are still closed.
And we don't know yet when those will open...

(There is also no guarantee that the area will remain open. If the pandemic situation changes, it may need to be closed again.)

Wet Season Update

There isn't much to tell you here I'm afraid.
The wet season is still ongoing and it is still raining here and there, but unfortunately we have not had any more big rain events like the one I told you about in the last newsletter.

Of course, if you plan to travel very early you may not consider that unfortunate. If we do not get any more big rains, then the roads and parks will open sooner.
But, you know, more rain wouldn't hurt the country.
Yes, everything looks great and lush and green at the moment. It HAS been a good wet season.
But Lake Argyle, which for now has stopped rising, is still several metres below spillway level, at 57% capacity, which goes to show just how bad the previous two wet seasons had been and how dry the country had been overall.
(The highest that Lake Argyle has ever been was in 2011, when it reached 9.1 metres above spillway level.)

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts a good chance of above average rainfalls still for March and April.
There is no tropical low or cyclone to be seen anywhere at the moment, and for the coming days monsoon break conditions are expected to become established, but that does not mean anything.
It isn't over till it's over!

NT Updates

The Top End has seen a very good wet season, too. As in the Kimberley, it's been the biggest wet season in years.
Particularly the last weeks have been much wetter there than across the Kimberley, with flooding occurring at the Roper and Daly rivers.
So here, too, you can expect to find lush green country and roaring waterfalls if you visit over Easter or generally early in the season.

However, for people arriving from July 1 onwards I have some not so good news and they have nothing to do with the weather.
After many years of prices in the NT national parks remaining the same, they are now going to increase.
And not just once, but apparently several times over the next years.

To start with, from July 1 this year the prices at campgrounds will increase from $6.60 to $10 (category A, with facilities, e.g. Wangi Falls or Florence Falls in Litchfield) and from $3.30 to $4 (category B, basic bush campsites, e.g. Walker Creek in Litchfield).

The government is also introducing a new fee for multi day bush walkers on trails like the Tabletop Walk in Litchfield, the Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk or the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges in the Red Centre.
From July 1, walking these trails will cost you a fee of $25 per night per person. On top of that you need to pay the category B campsite fee which brings it to $29 per night.

And from July next year (2022) there will also be a new entry fee for some of the national parks, all of which are free at the moment.
(Kakadu and Uluru do have entry fees, but they are federal parks, not NT managed.)
We don't know specifics yet (which parks or what the fees will be) but the NT government has confirmed the fees are coming.

And last but not least, a new online booking system for Territory national parks is on its way. No ETA on that yet.

Naturally, Destination Top End will be updated with any new details, once they become available.

"I've read your book back to front and it is a masterpiece!"

(Received February 9, 2021.
Thanks, Cameron!)

Tip From A Reader: Emergency Communication

I have never felt the need for an emergency communication device, and I am generally not up to date when it comes to all the technological gadgets available today. I'm technologically challenged, you might say.

Many readers are not, they appreciate and enjoy their high end navigation devices (I still use paper maps), and many also can not imagine NOT being connected while on the road.
While in some cases that may be just for the purpose of regularly accessing and posting to their social media, there are of course others who may need the connection due to health concerns, elderly parents at home or similar reasons.

For all of those the below email a reader sent me may be of interest:

"Hello, in reading your Destination Kimberley guide in your section on emergency communication you might like to include a satellite based communicator.
I have a Garmin Inreach Explorer + which is a satellite based system that enables you to send and receive text and email messages from anywhere where you can get satellite coverage. It also includes an SOS function but has the advantage of being able to communicate with the emergency services via the email and text function.

Effectively it does everything a sat phone does, except voice. It also has GPS and other functions depending on which model you purchase. It will for example track your journey and update a map of where you have been and are, on an app downloaded by any invited family or friends, anywhere in the world. It is accurate to a matter of meters and will update tracking data in intervals of as low as 2 minutes if that is what you want. And it is not much larger than a phone. 

The great thing about it is that you pay a monthly charge, which you simply suspend when you are not travelling. Once you have paid the monthly charge of about $100 per month, you get unlimited texts and email, weather forecasts and other services. The other great thing is that it works anywhere in the world and I have never had any difficulty getting satellite coverage. And I have used it in some very remote off road locations in the outback in Australia.
There is another similar Garmin satellite communicator available which has aps like a mobile phone and uses the satellite system, but it has limited battery life. (18 Hrs). The Explorer range battery life is weeks.  

The Garmin Explorer is the only unit of its type that I know of that is available in Australia, but there is at least one other similar product available in the US. These products were originally developed for bush walkers.  

I have nothing to do with Garmin but I find this unit is a great device, which I bought some years ago after getting stuck on a track out the back of Innaminka and was only found thanks to an oil worker coming past."

Thank you, Ian!

And that's it for today.

I plan/hope to get another newsletter out before people start out on their Easter trips.
I also plan/hope to have the yearly guide book reviews/updates completed by then.
As I mentioned above, for more information on that and on how to access the latest version of your guide, see the last section in the last newsletter.

As always, a big THANK YOU to all the people who made a donation in support of this newsletter.
Your support and encouraging words mean a lot to me. I appreciate you.

Take care, stay safe, and talk soon!

If you enjoy these newsletters and find them useful, tell everyone about them (they can sign up here) and consider supporting me with a small donation.
That's the online equivalent of buying me a drink. :)
Thank you so much!

Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre have all the information you need to put together your dream trip.

To sign up for this newsletter and receive the free Kimberley Pocket Guide go here.

Feedback? Found some out of date info in one of my guides? Let me know via

(c) 2021, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
Back to Back Issues Page