The Tale of King George Falls

The location is the Kimberley in Western Australia after a record setting wet season.. The scene is the mighty King Georg Falls. The falls are twin 85 meter tall waterfalls with spray rising to well over 120 meters in the air. The air being pushed away by the waterfall is so severe it feels like being in a storm. Add the True North and the scene is set for True North Mark, David Bettini, and yours truly to experience and capture epicness. As Mark, Dave and I arrived at the scene in a tender boat we were challenged by mother nature to take in this spectacle of such grand proportions. This is captured from the tender boat just as we had first contact.

kinggeorg-approach

Read on for more of this epic tale.

The night before King Georg Falls was the dress-up party night on the ship, so climbing King Georg Falls is not really my first thought as the alarm clock wakes me at 5am. Incredibly I manage to get up before Mark, and after inhaling two cups of coffee we set off in the tender boat. The ride up the river towards the fall is blindingly gorgeous. Our boat driver Ben is apparently also a little sleepy from party night as we take a wrong turn and must back track a bit, allowing me to capture this serene scene:

kinggeorg-river

First contact is the sound as the loud roar of the falls almost drowns out the world. The first visual contact is stunning to a level of the human brain balking at the scale and spectacle. It is not so much the height of the twin falls as it is the force of the mind blowing amount of water coming at us. The scale just simply seems off and in need of calibration. The force is so massive, the spectacle so large that we feel as if we finally managed to travel back to when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Ben is a good driver and in the very rough waters he manages to get Mark and I on shore and we start the ascent. Dave has to go back for his morning helicopter flight but will make a surprise appearance in the last act. The climb and walk in the tropical heat is somewhat challenging and I thank my F-stop camera backpack for being so comfortable and built for epicness.  Mark and I make it to our chosen spot just in time to capture the True North approaching. We are standing, well actually sitting, on the edge of an overhanging rock at the very top having walked a long the ridge to a point almost directly in front of the falls. Even here, we are still getting hit by spray from the waterfall. I am searching for any words to describe our astounding view.

I recommend you watch my video at the end of this post, as video truly demonstrates the power of this scene. Looking at the still images now, there is simply no way to capture the force, drama and epic spectacle of this scene in a two dimensional still image. The following are my attempts. I captured quite a few images as the light changed and I have processed three different images, you can select your favourite.

King Georg Fall – the three images

The first image is the view very early with overcast soft light as the True North approaches to take a close up look at the fall. Captain Brad could of course not tip the bow under the waterfall as they do later on in the season, it was a testament to his skill that they got as close as they did. I did the ride under the spray later on in a tender boat and it felt like being in a cyclone with a horizontal rain storm, very thrilling. This image is quite honest, very little processing and authentic sky and True North. I personally like this image very much.

kinggeorg-morning

This sunny cheery version with a ‘waterfall bow’ from the spray is a bit later on with a little sun shine. I feel this image is perhaps too sunny to support the dramatic falls and the sun blows out the water in the falls. If so desired I could drop the True North in here but it looks a bit flat as there was no sunlight when TN arrived. I present, the sunny version:

kinggeorg-sunny

The final image is a different scene altogether and personally I have come to really like this artistic take, very much created. I added a sky from a few days earlier, a storm at Steep Island. It is a stitched image around the same time as the first image, early morning in soft light, and the True North was dropped in from the earlier image. The True North was actually in the stitch but shown from behind, further into the fall and almost hidden in the spray and I like her better in profile. This gloomy rainy version is not for everyone, I shall be interested to hear your opinion:

kinggeorg-gloomy

 

Epicness Inc and the arrival of Dave

Mark and I spend some hours here capturing the scene and enjoying the mind blowing spectacle. Smiles and high fives are exchanged, this is Mother Nature showing off and we get almost high from the experience. I forget all about being tired and hung over, I have seen some spectacles around the world but not much compares to King Georg Falls and we are at the ready to capture it. This leads to some talking ourselves and our egos up (yes there is no limit) and somehow we end up creating our little company of Epicness Incorporated. Yes, we travel the world and capture Epicness. We call King Georgs Falls our office, the HQ of Epicness Inc and it is very fitting. We need a rather large office as our large heads will not fit through any doors!

Sometime around 10am the high has worn off a bit and I am starting to feel the need for some more coffee and breakfast. Mark is waiting around to capture some promised images of Rainor, the heli pilot in his heli, and is then getting a ride back on the heli. I am walking back down again to get picked up by a tender boat. Just as I have packed my F-stop bag and am getting ready to trek back down, I spot movement out of the corner of my right eye. What could it be? I eagle eye the bush and my jaw hits the rock when I spot Dave stumbling through the bush. ‘Dave, it’s Dave’ I shout to Mark. Normally we would have heard Dave coming, as he literally drags his equipment through the bush, large tripod in left hand and huge flight case with the Phase One in his right hand. The waterfall drowned out his arrival. Dave arrives at our HQ unable to speak and soaked in sweat. The climb has taken it’s toll and it is a while before he says any words let alone shoots any images. Some days earlier doing a climb at Raft Point he looked worn out but this time I am thinking this might be his final moment! He lies down to lick water out of a small pool, so I offer my fellow mate Dave in Epicness Inc. my water bottle and start the climb down. I am still quite stunned by Dave’s magical appearance. How I wish I had my camera out when Dave arrived although I am quite sure Dave is happy there is no documentation of his state of being at the time! It is all in a days work for Epicness Inc.

Snapshots

This portrait of me looking rather dorky also shows how I found it hard to remove eyeliner at 5am after Party Night. Long story. The way to the top is the climb shown on the right side of the image. Feeling a little worse for wear after party night, I found it a very refreshing morning exercise to get the blood circulating.

kinggeorg-fbj-hq

True North’s helicopter pilot Rainor is a legend. Here he is posing for two of the members of Epicness Inc, Mark and Dave. The third member, I, was of course at the ready at the bottom to capture this cool scene. I actually managed to just get down to the water level as I spotted this so I whipped out the camera and captured a few shots:

kinggeorg-heli

This is a close up of  Dave and Mark sitting at Epicness Inc HQ doing a portrait session of Rainor the pilot. Yes, airplane shooters, I know my shutter speed is too high, I did not get a full circle of the blades. I have no excuse.

kinggeorg-heli-closeup

Kimberley Tales video

Finally, I invite you all to view my Kimberley Tales video as this is the only way to truly appreciate how mighty and majestic King Georg Falls was:

Writing this story has brought back many memories, memories of the most amazing and fun 13 days in the Kimberley. I doubt I have ever laughed so much for 13 days straight, thanks to the Epicness crew of Mark, Dave and our great friend Greg. I have been fortunate to do two True North trips recently, and there are no trips like this elsewhere on the planet. It is worth every penny. I dream of the day when I can board the True North again for more adventures with my epic friends.

So ends the tale of King Georg Falls. Stay tuned for the upcoming adventures of Epicness Inc.