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Willis’s Walkabouts

Bushwalking, trekking, hiking, backpacking holidays. Our trips are different. We begin where other tours stop.

For 20 years, Willis’s Walkabouts has been taking people on walking adventures into the Kimberley and Pilbara wilderness. We go to well known places like the Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Plateau, Karijini, and the Gibb River Road. We go to almost inaccessible places like the Kimberley Coast and Drysdale River National Park. We go to spectacular, little known places like the Carr Boyd, Cockburn and Osmond Ranges; the Charnley, Isdell and Durack Rivers.

On every trip, our experienced guides lead you off-trail into wonderful places where you enjoy Aboriginal rock-art, beautiful gorges, birdwatching, photography, wildflowers, waterfalls and superb campsites you share with no one but your walking companions. They are yours and yours alone because you walk to get there.

On all our hikes (treks, tramps, bushwalks – call them what you wish), you carry a pack containing your food and equipment. You need reasonable fitness but our trips are not endurance tests. They get you away from the stress city life so you can relax and unwind in a way which would not be possible surrounded by the trappings of civilisation.

We take you to places where there are no phones, no cars, no people, no hassle – places where you can swim in clear, tropical pools, camp under the most amazing star show on earth, enjoy a three-course meal by the campfire and relax the evening away with a group of like-minded people.

Our program includes more than 50 trips, no two of which are alike. You can join us for anything from a single five-day hike to a six week expedition. To find out more, see our website or ask for a brochure. We offer advance purchase discounts of up to 20% on all trips.

Touring Options

Durack Explorer

This trip is for adventurous people who wish to explore the unknown. We will not know exactly where we are going until we have finished the trip. Some of the route choice will depend on what we find.

We dreamed about this trip for years. We flew over the Durack again and again, each time seeing it from a slightly different angle. We’ve stared down at magnificent cliffs and huge pools and tried to figure out a practical, not too expensive way of getting there. We finally did it in 2005.

We found a bus to take us from Kununurra to Wyndham and a boat to take us from Wyndham to the mouth of the Durack and then quite a distance upstream. We got dropped off in a tidal area but a short, reasonably easy walk from there got us to a great view point overlooking the fresh water below. Even this close to the tidal zone, we could see only freshwater crocs and one of our big safety concerns immediately disappeared.

The exact spot we get dropped off on each will depend on the tide at the time. We may not know the exact route but we do know that you will wander through some amazing gorges and that you will visit the single largest Aboriginal art site we have ever found. Some of the walking will be easy and some will be difficult. Those who take part will be among the first non-Aboriginals to explore this amazing area.

Mitchell Plateau – Number Three

The Mitchell Plateau is one of the ecologically most important areas in northern Australia. On this walk, you see everything from open woodland and broad river valleys to deep gorges and spectacular waterfalls. You will visit many Aboriginal art sites, the number of which may be a reflection of the diverse habitats and abundant natural food supplies. Every day brings another beautiful campsite and ample opportunity for swimming. The trip is divided into two sections either of which may be done on its own. It also includes a food drop and helicopter flight.

Further information is available in our trip notes. These can be downloaded from our website or obtained by contacting us direct.

In order to increase the time we can spend on the plateau, we plan to use light aircraft to fly people between Kununurra and the Mitchell Plateau airstrip. However, if the trip which immediately precedes this does not take place, we may have to drive.

We have a choice of doing a single long walk or a two day walk followed by a longer one. If we choose the latter, those taking part can acclimatise without having to carry all their supplies. Spare food and equipment can be left with the vehicles during each walk.

One possibility is a one or two day walk to Surveyor’s Pool, an isolated pool surrounded by six metre white cliffs. A second possibility is a short walk to a potentially interesting waterfall the map shows only a few kilometres from the road. A third is driving down to the coast for a two day exploration of Crystal Creek where we can find a shady gorge, good pools and a small waterfall which does not appear on the map. We have found flowing water even toward the end of an exceptionally dry season. One of our groups decided to explore further and did a day walk out to Crystal Head. That walk was long and rugged but rewarded with excellent views out over the islands to the north. The guide will decide which to do based on based on the interests and abilities of the group, available water supplies and the condition of the four wheel drive tracks.

The main (perhaps only) walk begins with a relatively short walk from Mitchell Falls car park us to Little Merten Falls where we find a number of Aboriginal art sites. Moving on, we soon come to Big Merten Falls and Merten Gorge and then Mitchell Falls. Just how much water we will see will depend on the previous wet season. In some years Mitchell Falls is still flowing well, in others it has dropped off to a trickle. Whatever the flow, there are numerous pools, perfect for swimming.

After exploring the area around the top of the falls, we climb down into Mitchell Gorge where we find numerous Aboriginal art sites and many inviting pools. (Traditional Aboriginal belief does not permit swimming in the pool immediately below Mitchell Falls so we will restrict our swimming to the many other pools along our route.)

There is so much to see that the seven kilometre walk down river to the lower falls (less known but just as spectacular as the main falls) normally takes us at least two days. From there we plan to do a day walk through the lower gorge to the tidal rapids formed where a rock bar blocks the river. At very low tides you could walk across with dry feet. When the tide changes, the water swirls back up the river with a rush and the bar disappears.

From the lower falls, we move west to a deep, narrow gorge which we follow to its head. The environment here is very different to that along the Mitchell, so we take our time so that we can appreciate all that it has to offer. From the top of the gorge, we walk back to the Mitchell River upstream of the falls. If time permits, we spend a day there, exploring the rock formations, looking at the Aboriginal art sites and enjoying the pools.

The trip concludes with a one and a half day drive from the Mitchell Plateau back to Kununurra.

Middle Isdell

This is a major expedition with a minor exploratory component based on our previous trips to the region plus information we have obtained from other people who have walked through or flown over the area. Our route takes us through beautiful gorges, lush valleys and a variety of vegetation. For those who take the time to look, there are lots of birds and a number of Aboriginal art sites.

Section One: Silent Grove to Isdell – Twelve Days
This section is a loop that will take us along a number of minor creeks to a gorge on the Middle Isdell and then back to the bottom of Bell Gorge. The pools, the cascades and the views here are too nice to leave out so we will spend a day walking over to visit them, relaxing and enjoying the area before returning to our base camp to enjoy some of the special extras that come in with the food drop.

Section Two: Isdell to Silent Grove – Eleven Days
From the bottom of Bell Gorge we continue west along the Isdell along a series of minor creeks where we find numerous pools and several Aboriginal art sites. We finish the walk back at Bell Falls where we began.

Carr Boyd Explorer

We begin with a bus to Lake Argyle and a boat ride across the lake to the beginning of our walk. The next week takes us past some spectacular waterfalls and through some of the most spectacular gorges in the ranges. At the end of the first week, a helicopter brings in our food for the second half of the trip. Scenic flights will be available at an additional charge.

During the second week, we walk through more spectacular gorge country in the northern part of the range before finishing on a gravel road where a bus picks us up and returns us to Kununurra. For more information, please ask for our trip notes. These can be downloaded from our website or obtained by contacting us direct. The website has a gallery of photos from this area.

Tour Highlights:
Section One: Bus to Lake Argyle, boat across the lake, walk to food drop. Those doing only section one return to Kununurra by helicopter.

Section Two: Those joining this section come out to meet the group by helicopter. We then walk through the northern part of the range.

More information is available from our website:

Mitchell Explorer

This trip combines the best of our previous trips with an exploration of a new area to the west.

Section One: Mitchell Plateau Airstrip to Donkins Falls – Eleven Days
We begin with a flight from Kununurra to the Mitchell Plateau airstrip where we hop into a helicopter and fly straight to the top of Mitchell Falls. The aerial views are spectacular. We spend the rest of the day exploring the area around the falls.

From here, we make our way upstream along the Mitchell River, eventually reaching a rather spectacular but little known gorge and waterfall not shown on any map. The next segment of the walk takes us across some relatively flat country to the headwaters of Donkins Creek. The environments here are different from anything else we encounter in the areas we have visited before. This area is not geologically spectacular, but it has an interesting flora and fauna and is where we’ve spotted the most wildlife on many of our previous trips.

Not far from where we first hit it, Donkins Creek enters a small gorge. The walking here is slow with a number of small climbs and a substantial amount of rock-hopping. The gorge is, however, quite pretty and there are a number of pools where we can stop for a swim and/or to look at whatever birds may be in the area.

Finally we break into the open and reach a magnificent campsite about a kilometre above Donkins Falls. At about 100 metres, Donkins Falls is the highest single drop waterfall in the north Kimberley. The area around the falls is a fascinating mix of different environments.We plan to do a long day walk down to the base of the falls and back.

On day eleven, a helicopter (or two) brings our food, those continuing and those joining us for the second section to a meeting point at the top Mitchell Falls. Those finishing with section one are flown back to the Mitchell Plateau airstrip where a light aircraft returns them to Kununurra. Those continuing are flown a few km north so we can avoid some of the most difficult walking we have ever encountered in the Kimberley.

Section Two: Donkins Hill, the Hunter River and the Unknown – Twelve Days
The area around Donkins Hill is extremely broken and slow going but the north end of the mountain is home to a number of interesting art sites so we will get dropped off there and spend the rest of the day exploring.

The following day, we drop down to the Hunter River and begin heading upstream, going beyond where we have ever been before. The map shows the river passing through rocky terrain, but, not far from where we leave it, we should break into the open and have an easy go as we make our way across to the unnamed river which looks so exciting on the map – long pools and a gorge on the main river, more side gorges than we can possibly explore. We’ll wander along, looking for art sites and waterfalls, enjoying an area few non-Aboriginals have ever visited. We can’t say how far we’ll go, but that doesn’t matter because, at the end of this section, a helicopter will come in and collect us from wherever we are. That same helicopter (or two) will bring in the food for those continuing and those joining us for the final section. It will carry those continuing to a point near the bottom of the Western Gorge and bring those finishing back to the Mitchell Plateau airstrip where a light aircraft returns them to Kununurra.

Section Three: Lower Mitchell River & Western Gorge – Eight Days
This section begins with a helicopter flight to a place we call the Western Gorge, a shadier and narrower gorge than anything else we know of in the area. This gorge is quite pretty so we’ll spend the rest of the day exploring it before heading across to the Mitchell River.

Our exact route depends on whether or not the Drysdale River trip which follows this takes place. Whichever route we take we will visit the lower Mitchell Falls and tidal rapids. Although little known because of their inaccessibility, the lower falls are just as spectacular as the main Mitchell Falls. We will probably spend two nights there, exploring the nearby Aboriginal art sites and doing a day walk through the lower gorge to the tidal rapids formed where a rock bar blocks the river. At very low tides, you could walk across with dry feet. When the tide changes, the water swirls back up the river with a rush and the bar disappears. (The display is not as impressive during neap tides.) This section finishes with a flight back to Kununurra.

Bungle Bungles and the Osmond Range

This trip is divided into three sections, two in the Bungle Bungles and one in the Osmond Range immediately to the north of the park. Each section consists of a single long walk taking you far beyond where any four wheel drive will go. Any section may be done on its own. Further information is available in our trip notes. These can be obtained by contacting us direct or from our website at:

Section One: The Osmond Range – Seven Days
Although this area is within walking distance of the Bungles, it could hardly be more different. The rocks are more angular. Most of the creeks are spring fed and flow well into the dry season. The vegetation remains green and includes the southernmost monsoon forest in the Kimberley. Part of the walk is on Aboriginal owned land. We have been fortunate to receive permission to walk there.

The start of our Osmond walk is about 280 kilometres from Kununurra. The last 20-30 kilometres is along a very rough four wheel drive track, so the drive takes most of the day. The most interesting part of the area is along the edge and on top of the plateau. The terrain is quite varied. In some places we will have to scramble up steep slopes; in others the walking should be flat and easy. Sometimes we will drop our packs and do a day or half-day walk. At other times, we will carry the packs and shift camp from one creek to another. At the end of the week, we return to the vehicles and drive out to Warmun where we can get a cold drink and something fresh before driving into the Bungles.

Section Two: Piccaninny Gorge – Eight Days
The start of our Bungles walks is about 130 kilometres from Warmun. The last 80 kilometres is a four wheel drive track, so the drive will take some hours.
Our walk takes us to a base camp about 12-13 kilometres up Piccaninny Gorge, where sheer red cliffs are silhouetted against the clear blue skies of the dry season. Piccaninny is by far the largest gorge in the Bungles. We spend three or four nights there using the days to explore the many fascinating side gorges.

These gorges offer a variety of delights Â

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