from the Maxxis Man! It’s been a while since we’ve hit the road for a bit of
4×4 Australian Outback exploring – so get ready for another extraordinary adventure
beyond the bitumen! This time we’re heading off on the rugged (and very
infamous) Gibb River Road through the very heart of Western Australia’s Kimberley
region – where we’re pretty much assured of loads of out-of-this-world scenery,
red dust, more red dust, river crossings …. and heaps of enjoyment being all part
of the deal. So, if this sounds like just what the doctor ordered and you’re up
for the challenge – here we go…
and the all-important question of tyres
A 79 Series
Landcruiser (or similar) fitted with a set of Maxxis RAZR MTs would be the
perfect combination to take on the great Gibb River Road, giving you the peace
of mind that whether it’s a river crossing, thick sand, rocky outcrop,
stretches of uneven, unsealed corrugations or something else extreme, you’re
well prepared for whatever conditions you encounter along the way!
So where exactly are we going
This drive takes you through the Kimberleys for over
660km – stretching from Derby to Wyndham or Kununurra
with (of course!) plenty of
opportunities to make this longer should you decide to take some detours. We’d recommend
taking a minimum of 6 days to make the most of this trip – giving your vehicle
and tyres a real chance to show their mettle and you the opportunity to enjoy
some of Australia’s most pristine Outback outdoors away from “all things” city!
While much of the main road is sealed, you may experience some rough,
corrugated sections – which can affect your grip (and comfort), so extra care
and caution and less speed may be required.
Itinerary and the sights along the way
There are SO many highlights to the Gibb River Road,
the world really is your oyster when you set off on this road-of-all roads, with
the sheer expanse and majesty of the landscape stretching out endlessly and
many detours from the main road for you to choose from. We’ve selected just a
few to get you on your way…
Derby to Windjana Gorge National Park
We start our trip at the town of Derby, 220km
northeast of Broome and gateway to the great Gibb River Road. With plenty of
character of its own, Derby is situated on
the King Sound, recording Australia’s highest tides and is also home to the
famous Boab tree. A sunset from the jetty and a bit of fishing or crabbing,
could make the perfect beginning to this adventure before you fuel up for the
first leg of your trip.
Once on the road, it’s 145km to the majestic Windjana Gorge
(rising to a height of 100m in some places). At the foot of the gorge,
crocodiles abound in the Bandingan Rock pool (so swimming is definitely not
advisable here!) There are two camp sites in the park and it’s a picturesque
place to bushwalk, set up camp and enjoy the peace and quiet and the wide-open
starry night sky.
Gorge – King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park
Next stop is Bell Gorge (about 250km on the main
road and then a further 30km from the turn off), with cascading falls and rocky
pools creating a picture-perfect spot to rest, relax and cool down after a
dusty day’s drive. Silent Grove is a
good camping ground base for the night
— however if you’re after something a little more luxurious, there’s
the Mount Hart Homestead (also in the park but about 100km on).
Another 120km on Gibb River Road and you’ll arrive at the entrance to
the impressive Manning Gorge, accessed via the Mt Barnett Roadhouse. It’s a
colourful (sometimes arduous, hot, narrow and rocky!) 5km trail to the gorge
from the camp ground across the Manning River, with Aboriginal
rock art situated along the way, a cascading waterfall at the top and a couple
of pools beneath. Make sure you have good walking shoes, sunnies and sunscreen
and drinking water – before setting off. Stock up with supplies and petrol for
the next stage of your trip at the Mt Barnett Roadhouse – which also offers
some accommodation as an alternative to the tranquil camping ground set beside
the pools at the lower Manning Gorge.
El Questro Station
Manning Gorge to El Questro Station
is the longest distance of our itinerary (we’re sure your RAZRs are more than
up for it!) El Questro is a stunning and
expansive wilderness park made up of gorges, mountains, hot springs, waterholes,
rainforests and more – teaming with wildlife and natural beauty to explore which
we’re tipping may need more than a one-night stopover to take in. With a camp
site, bungalows and homestead accommodation, restaurants and grocery store, there’s
something for everyone here, so it’s really up to you how you choose to kick
back and enjoy the experience.
Wyndham or Kununurra
The last leg of our trip takes us
either to Wyndham (where you’ll be greeted by the town’s Big Croc at the
entrance to the town) or Kununurra. With a history set in the gold rush, Wyndham
is the most northern town in the Kimberleys, situated at the mouth of the King,
Pentecost, Durack, Forest and Ord Rivers – and the perfect place to end our
adventure or start another.
If you’re heading the final (relatively
short) stretch to Kununurra, the road from the entrance to El Questro to
Kununurra is sealed all the way. Enjoy the hospitality of a vibrant and
character-filled town, with numerous accommodation options and if you’re still
up for a bit more adventure, this is the launching point to explore Lake
Kununurra, Lake Argyle, and the Ord River – and way beyond.
What to pack and how to prepare
one of those trips where preparation is key! Ensure your vehicle and tyres have been thoroughly checked
before you leave (don’t forget to do the tyre pressures!) have a good supply of water as well as plenty
of sunscreen, camping gear and food supplies, vehicle jack and other vehicle
spares, tools, spare fuel and necessities you would usually take on any 4×4
Outback adventure. The Kimberleys can get extremely hot, but depending on when
you do the trip, the nights can get cool, so make sure you’re well equipped!
Anything else you may need to know
No two drives of Gibb
River Road are ever quite the same. You’re bound to see animals (wild and farm
animals) for which the Kimberleys are renowned, so avoid driving at dusk, dawn
and in the dark. Also — the dust can impair visibility, so take extra care (or
avoid) overtaking. There are a couple of roadhouses along the stretch of the
Gibb, plus other pit stops, but it is essential to plan your fuel stops carefully,
particularly if you’re running a petrol vehicle or planning to explore some
off-the-beaten tracks. The dry season (late April/May to October) is the
time to do this drive as the Gibb River Road is closed during the wet season.
Well that’s about it from me! Now it’s over to you to check those RAZRs are ready for action, buckle up and enjoy this magnificent ride! Safe travels and we look forward to you sharing some of your photos along the way.
Please note: The information offered in this blog is
of a general nature only and should in no respect replace detailed research,
travel and safety preparations as relevant to your individual requirements and