How do I get to King George Falls?
As far as natural wonders go, the King George River and Falls does not disappoint. The remoteness and isolation of these culturally significant sites only add to their appeal, leading would-be adventurers and waterfall chasers to take to the water and air to experience this magnificent natural wonder. There is no land access to the Falls.
What is King George Falls?
The perennial river, named by Charles Conigrave in 1911 in honour of King George V, flows in a northerly direction through the Drysdale River National Park past Seppelt Range some 112km. It travels 12km from the mouth before it navigates King George Falls and plunges 80m (or more) into the water before continuing its journey to Koolama Bay.
Where is King George Falls?
The river and falls are located in the North Kimberley Marine Park. To get to the King George River and Falls, you have two choices. The first is to visit as part of a kimberley cruise ship’s itinerary. The viewing point from on the water is a real winner. The smaller boats and tender vessels will cross over the sandbar to allow it to cruise alongside the falls. When you have dried off and finished taking your photographs, it is time to anchor. Smaller cruise vessels often drop anchor near the falls for the night, allowing the sound of the tumbling cascades to be the only accompaniment to your evening meal. In busier times skippers communicate with each other to “take turns” of anchoring beside the falls so you never miss out due to lack of space.
Alternatively, thrill-seekers can ride a helicopter from a couple of kimberley cruise options. If you’re not cruising, the King George River and Falls are usually on an air tour that takes off from Kununurra and flies over other Kimberley highlights such as the Cambridge Gorge, Campbell Range, upper Berkeley River, Wyndham and along the Cockburn Ranges.
When to see King George Falls?
As you would expect, the falls draw gasps of wonder from observers on the deck of a kimberley cruise ship or peering out of a helicopter’s window. Not only are they the highest twin falls in Western Australia but at full force (early in the Kimberley cruise season) the thunderous power of the water, forcing its way over the sandstone cliffs, is nothing short of explosive. As the dry season progresses the falls reduce in volume although never dry completely; allowing boats further into the gorge to experience its majesty up close.
It’s no wonder that the local Balanggarra people, of whom the falls have great cultural significance, relate to them as male and female rainbow serpents.
Some of the smaller kimberley cruise ships get close enough to the falls to allow passengers a ‘Kimberley-style’ shower. Others quite often will drive their zodiacs or tender vessels through. Don’t worry you will have plenty of time to prepare and secure your valuable cameras well out of the way. It great for those with waterproof cameras or Go Pros though. If you don’t fancy a rinse, you can step back and just stare in wonder at its beauty. So captivating and all-encompassing are they that the cascades are a film director’s ‘falls of choice’. King George Falls featured in Baz Luhrmann’s epic tale Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
When the falls are more sedate, and the serpents are taking a well-needed rest (Late August and September), it is possible to climb to the top of the cliffs to take in the full view of the dual falls and the untamed landscape surrounding it. This also may possible during the earlier months depending on how much the flow has been reduced.
Can I climb King George Falls?
A couple of us have climbed the steep rocky trail in both early June and April, after a quieter wet season. It’s well worth the effort as the view is outstanding and the opportunity for a swim in one the most remote locations you are ever likely to find yourself is not to be missed. Don’t forget your hiking boots, camera, a towel and your head for heights! You need a reasonable amount of fitness but you don’t need to be an athlete. Crew are on hand to help you over the tougher bits. The iconic photos down the escarpment are always taken from the top of the falls.
Note: only the smaller boats will offer this climb when the weather permits. For example: