Mitchell Falls [Punamii-unpuu] - the worst track in Australia - so worth it!

Not sure about your YouTube feeds, but ours are pretty much 4WD shows, aspirational travel journeys or car repairs (largely HJ/FJ45s - troopy, ute or short wheel base) ... unless of course were were talking about building a kitchen (recently installed a second hand kitchen at Jupiter Creek) and then for 24 hours we had lots of videos about that. 

Anyway, I digress, we were recently watching Holly & Matt's (Overland Travellers) feature length video of the Kimberley and we were reminiscing about our own trip in 2018 - the first real test of wine in a can (trial run of Prosecco on board, survived and consumed - we ran out at Mt Elizabeth Station - if anyone knows the owners pass on our details). 

We couldn't help but talk about the Mitchell Falls track as we watched their team show videos of the corrugations, breakages ... it was all so familiar.

The day started at Russ River, we had made Drysdale River by early morning, stopped for a toilet break and despite reading all the signs that said 'DO NOT take camper trailers out to Mitchell Falls', we decided that the TrakShak and Patriot were going to be fine, they are designed for these kinds of tracks.  Towed by the ever reliable Thor and Munja [not yet named BTW] what could possibly go wrong.  We also didn't want to back track as our plan was to head to Kalumburu and McGowan's Beach after the trip out to the falls and we didn't want to have to drive back south to Drysdale.

Anyway, all was going well, we had made it north to the Mitchell Falls turning and were heading west.  Setting a reasonable pace - the aerial was vibrating about as fast as it could go and we had settled in.  The area has recently been burnt (as part of land management cycle) and the scenery was stunning.  

Suddenly, things weren't 'right'.  Now, you may recall from one of our early blogs that we had already lost a wheel on the Tanami and so we were generally very aware of anything strange going on with the TrakShak.  Pulling over to the side of the road, ground mat at the ready, we began inspecting the trailer.

Unfortunately, what we discovered was a very blown out shock (image below), unbelievable!  We had only replaced the shock just before the trip.  Possibly already put under strain by the left wheel coming off ... the right shock was clearly a little worst for wear.

The D-shackle had held and was the only reason the coil hadn't bounced out of position.  Unfortunately, unlike with the wheel incident on the Tanami, we did not have spare parts.  The shocks we had replaced just prior to our trip were on the floor of the shed at home and not much use at this point.  

With over 40kms to go, we were roughly 45kms along this 86km 'road' (not 100% sure it should be called a road), we were down to half speed and stopping regularly.   At one point a particularly bouncy section and the D-shackle had undone itself, the coil had popped out and we didn't think we were going anywhere.  A skip down the road on foot (OK it was more of a trudge as we muttered some fairly spectacular language) and there was the coil and thankfully we had one spare D-shackle left. 

After 258kms (checked Hema Exporer) - nearly 5 hours of driving and 3 hours of stopping - we rolled into Mitchell Falls Campground.  What a relief to find a wonderful campsite and set down for the night.

We stayed 2 nights at Mitchell Falls.  If you are ever in the area, please take the helicopter ride out (or in) to the falls and then walk the trek back to (or from) camp.  Absolutely incredible experience, we had two 10 year olds, an 8 year old and 7 year old.  It was an easy walk, the kids loved it.   Taking our time we stopped to look at the amazing artwork, pools and would do it again in a heartbeat.

After what is still one of the best days of our trip in the Kimberly (in my opinion) we knew that we had to make it back out the 'road' on a chain and D-shackle.  It was also now a decision as to whether we continued north to Kalumburu and McGowan's Beach or whether we needed to accept defeat and head back south.  In case you hadn't already gathered a challenge is a challenge met, and so as we reached the end of the Mitchell Falls Road we reached under my seat, pulled out the satellite phone and called the Kalumburu Community Centre.  We knew a Hilux shock would fit the TrakShak, we just needed to find a Hilux to take one from.

The lovely gentleman who answered the phone was more than happy for us to have a look around the junk yard when we arrived, there was a pretty good chance there would be a Hilux in there somewhere, he seemed to think.  On that advice, it was north we turned.  

Once we arrived, with ground mat and all necessary equipment, its was time to hunt and find.  Now, let's just say that rummaging around a junk yard of old cars, on a warm Kimberly day is a little less than comforting.  Looking under cars where there might be some friendly neighbourhood creatures.  Lots of noise was made, lots of cars inspected and would you believe a Hilux found with a shock in good working order.  And, this is why our YouTube channel is filled with car repair tails.  As you do in the bush, the shock was removed and installed onto the TrakShak and we were ready to for a wine around a campfire to put this tale down in Folklore history books, over looking the northern shores of Australia and the five-meter resident crocodile that we found out later frequented this shoreline.

We sold our TrakShak a few years later, with the shock still operational and intact. 

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