week before Easter 2021, my friend Zoe and I decided to hike from Lake Argyle up the creek to Revolver Falls for our long weekend adventure. Having heard about a couple of groups that didn’t make it to the falls in their timeframe, we felt confident that it would be an easy and relaxing waltz along the trail… Just kidding! We knew that it would be a challenge, but we said, ‘bring it on!’
Our plan was to get a boat ride to the end of the creek (where it ran into Lake Argyle) and hike in over two days, but then climb the ridge on the third and get a helicopter to pick us up. We had a plan and it meant that we didn’t have to rush, but just take our time and enjoy the scenery.
I will admit that my friend was a lot more practical in her preparation, including items like an emergency device and sunscreen, however, I brought the recording equipment and a verbal mud map of where we needed to go. So all packed, we set out early on Good Friday towards Lake Argyle to catch a lift with Greg from Lake Argyle Cruises to wear we’d start our hike.
I hadn’t been on the lake since last year and it was so nice to see the changes that the wet season had brought. You could tell how much the water level had come up and how full of life everything was. These are the things I particularly notice and enjoy.
Greg took us in as far as the boat would allow and after praying that the 3 wild bulls I’d seen moments before had hightailed it a long way away, we grabbed our backpacks and jumped out. I’ll be honest, it was a strange feeling seeing the boat disappear back the way we’d come leaving us all alone. It was very… quiet. Did I mention this was my first overnight hike? I’ve been camping and hiking since I was a kid and I’ve never been the 5-star camping type, but this was certainly different. We were excited to start! It was going to be great!!
Thankfully we didn’t see the wild bulls again and it was so peaceful walking along the creek as the wind blew through the trees. We spotted lots of fish and a few freshwater crocodiles before stopping for morning tea. Even in April, it heated up pretty quickly. Having fresh, cool water right beside us most of the time was amazing! We cooled our feet off wading from one side to the other to find the less overgrown areas. We took our time and it was wonderful!
Until it started to get overgrown, and you couldn’t see where you were going, grass seed started to make walking a bit painful and spinifex grass was at pricking your legs. It was more overgrown than I had expected to be sure. Wading through the water over slippery rocks was much preferable to my way of thinking.
I’m sorry to say that by lunch we had already taken a wrong turn (personally I blame technology and maps that I can’t read. Haha!), but we actually had no way to tell if we were heading in the wrong direction or not, other then the GPS map that Zoe had brought and the verbal directions I had received, so we pushed on for a bit. By the time we did stop for lunch, I wasn’t having a good time, so we decided that it would be okay to rest for a bit. I felt like such a lazy person at the time, but by that night we were happy we hadn’t walked all afternoon. That being said, we did cover some hard-to-navigate terrain and when that time of the day came to find somewhere to camp there weren’t many options in the middle of a creek bed with grass and swampy water on either side of us. It looked like we were coming to a ravine and the water was getting deeper. Higher ground is what we decided we needed to head for, and the sight and sound of a small waterfall up a little way was very inviting.
Up we went expecting to find a pool of water and some flat ground, but that is not what we found. Instead, there were rocks and a couple of tiny water pools as the water tricked down to the creek. The waterfall we could hear was further up the rock in a place that we could not get to and had no flat ground anywhere.
This was it, this was our camping spot for the night. So we smiled and laughed at how this was not what we’d hoped to find. I so enjoyed sitting in the beautiful clear water resting my feet and scratched legs. That is until I saw the black squishy things attaching themselves to my skin. They were acting like leeches but didn’t look like we ones we got in QLD. I decided to not risk it and cut my soak short. Funny enough Zoe didn’t see or get one on her further upstream.
Finding a place to roll our sleep mats out proved to be highly entertaining. In the end, after much turning around in circles and wondering if we should take the risk to cross over the river in the dark to the other side in hopes of a better sleeping spot, we stayed put. I took a large, high rock with a forward lean and Zoe took a low rock with a side lean. While trying to work out the best way to sleep without sliding off my chosen rock, I heard a little squeak from Zoe as one of the 100s of cane toads landed on her as it descended the ridge to the creek for the night. I was thankful for my high rock even if it was proving a little bit more difficult to stay on.
Sleeping on my mat was out of the question as it very effectively turned the rock into a slippery slide, but it served me well as a pillow. I did manage to get some good but broken sleep by alternating between laying on my back with my heels resting in a slight groove to prevent forward movement or on my tummy with my arms hanging onto the top of the rock. I couldn’t tell you how Zoe truly went as we never fully complained about our choices, but laughed and called it what it was. A grand adventure! It was terrible, but we were having a great time. I know that sounds odd… But isn’t it good to get out of your comfort zone and give things a go?
A grand adventure! It was terrible, but we were having a great time.
During that first night, Zoe had messaged a friend on her fancy new device with our position and asked if there was a way to know if we were heading in the right direction. We were not.
Having settled that question, as it had been playing on both our minds all afternoon, we set off early with a new determination and directions back the way we’d come. The second day passed without incident. Meaning we did find our way. I’d never realised prior to this how much I dislike being unable to see where I am going or where I am placing my feet. Pushing through thick grass that is taller than me through swampy creek areas really tested the limit for me personally. I wished more than once I had a hatch to cut our way through, and hoped all snakes would move out of our path.
That afternoon we reached the open area we’d been told about and had hoped to reach the first night. This was also the place we were to leave our bags before the last part of the hike/swim to the bottom of the Revolver Falls. This was when we had to decide if we thought we could make it to the bottom of Revolver Falls. We were more than half a day behind our planned schedule.
As we could see it, we had three options:
- go now and possibly not make it back to our bags before dark;
- go first thing in the morning as quickly as possible and climb the ridge in the middle/heat of the day and hope we didn’t miss out ride out, or;
- stay where we were and climb the ridge in the morning while it was coolest.
We decided on option 3. I was extremely thankful for this because one of my legs had decided to be a little uncooperative but secretly was disappointed because I wouldn’t get to see the falls from the base of the range.
We tried to explore a waterfall we could hear hidden to our left but gave up once we realised we’d have to push through a lot thicker, and spiky bush before getting to it. The cold water stung all the scratches on my legs and ankles that looked like they’d been through a war. Funny how you can be so uncomfortable and yet be totally enjoying yourself.
The twilight sky was gorgeous. Sleeping on flat ground that night and listening to the creek flow was heavenly! The night sky was perfection! How blessed we were to be able to be out here in the wilds of The Kimberley; so untouched, unique and ever-changing. Each season it would look different depending on what the last dry and wet seasons had been like. It’s a humbling experience.
Day 3 was the climb up. We’d already chosen what looked like the easiest way up and I’d had the drone up to double-check. Yep, we looked good to go. Except I was having trouble lifting my right, leading leg. Something in my thigh must have gone on strike after being asked to ‘walk down the grass’ (stomping pathways through the bush). Nothing to do but carry on, we needed to catch our lift out!
The first half of the climb was as easy/difficult as it had looked and we were able to see the waterfall we had camped near. It was breathtaking (and I don’t mean from the climb). We really had found a piece of paradise.
The second part of our climb ended up being higher and more parallel than we’d first thought. Stopping for the second time, we focused our eyes on the view rather than the next obstacle while we caught our breath. It was a good view! Contemplating thoughts were many as I sat, feeling so small compared to our surroundings.
I won’t go into details about the last part of our climb, but I will just say that both of us had an “Oh Crap!” moment. Perhaps one backpack and hat were not with us when we reached the top of the ridge, because our safety came first. We made it!
“I will just say that both of us had an “Oh Crap!” moment”
If only we’d made it to the falls. We were both disappointed and frustrated. We hadn’t even seen the falls yet! We had to be in the right place, yet there was no real assurance of that. Surely as we walked around the ridge we’d be able to see it, and then we’d know we were going the right way.
No sooner than that thought crossed my mind. We did! It was actually right in front of us. As we came to the highest part of the ridge, far in the distance was Revolver Falls, the largest single drop falls in The Kimberley. What a relief! It looked so small from where we were. But there it was. Happiness is not enough to describe how we felt.
A few hours later, after following the edge of the ridge around, we were at the top of Revolver Falls. We did it!
Right? I mean sure, we didn’t make it to the base, but we counted it a win.
Burnt, scratched, and rubbed around the ankles… Or maybe that was just me…
We did it!
Now to relax. I didn’t really realise until that moment, but I hadn’t fully relaxed until that moment. Lazing in the crystal clear, cool water, knowing that I didn’t have to walk through any more grass or spinifex I relaxed and felt very, very content. That is until the leeches found me again… and not Zoe. Seriously, what is with that? I must have a certain allure. That didn’t take away from the moment though. This was a time to be present and appreciate where we were.
It was a pleasant sound as the Helispirit helicopter arrived on schedule to pick us up. I think we were not who the pilot was expecting to be picking up. We were certainly ready for home and some of us had work in the morning.
But as we flew over the edge of the ridge and you could see the falls and a little of where we’d hiked, I knew I wanted to do this again. I knew the way now, I’d know what to expect, what to bring and I am determined that next time I will hike in and out in 3 days.
After landing at the Kununurra airport, as we walked to my ute I realised that the last three days already felt so long ago. What a great time we had! Sure we were a bit exhausted, but otherwise, life was back to normal and the hike and climb felt like it could have been a dream.
Zoe must have been thinking something similar as she said, ‘I must be careful not to overshare the highlights and forget how difficult some of that was’. She was right, on social media or in the retelling, sometimes we tend to share the highlights and accomplishments of our lives, and downplay the challenges and uncomfortable moments that got us to where we are. But I find that misleading.
So if this write-up sounds like I’m complaining about my injuries and how hard it was, I apologise because that is not what I hope to convey. I wanted to find that balance between an epic adventurer and a silly unprepared girl. My photos and footage were all taken at times when I wasn’t being challenged, so how can I give an objective retelling for you? Perhaps the below video will help!
Honestly, I feel like if I can do this hike anyone could. I don’t know if that’s true though. I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Thank you to Greg at Lake Argyle Cruises and Helispirit for the transport. Most importantly, thank you to my good friend Zoe for going on this adventure with me.