Gibb River Road The Kimberly

Old Feb 12, 20, 10:56 pm
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Gibb River Road The Kimberly

I'm considering doing the Gibb River Road in September with a couple of friends. Our early planning would be to fly into Broome, hire a 4WD, drive the Gibb then on return from Kununurra visit the Bungle Bungles and finish back at Broome. Total time around 11-12 days. From what I have read the rivers and waterfalls seem to be at their best in May-July. I'm just wondering if anyone has any first hand experience on what conditions are like toward the back end of the dry season. I know 2019 was a very dry year I saw a picture of the "mighty" Pentecost River and it looked more like a creek. Also the condition of the road seems to be 4wd only but it doesn't appear to be particularly challenging, looks like they drag a grader through pretty regularly?

TIA

Last edited by bensyd; Feb 12, 20 at 11:03 pm
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Old Feb 12, 20, 11:59 pm
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I did the Gibb last year mid-June, drove from Darwin to Broome. As you said it was dry, very dry. The Pentecost was even dry. There were only a couple times we crossed water and it was hardly notable. Waterfalls were very disappointing but it was still very beautiful.

Road condition wasn't possible to discern before we went. Even the roadhouse people seemed to not really know, and when we talked to other travelers we realized that everyone has their own idea of what road conditions are.

It sounds like the road condition can vary (depending on rain and how long it's been since the grader has been through), but in our case the road was very, very easy. You could have driven it in a Falcon. There are a lot of sharp rocks so lower your tire pressures and bring a second spare if possible (we didn't get a puncture but met several people who did). We could average about 70 kph on most drives. The side roads and excursions had much more challenging roads.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 7:22 pm
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Thanks, CPM.

I've driven the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks and they were in good enough condition that you could probably take a 2WD sedan on them in dry months. Good to know the condition is OK. I think because of the volume of tourists they now try and keep these roads in better condition if for nothing more than safety.

Sorry I've got a few questions, so pardon me but I'm just going to list them if that's OK.

- What was the volume of traffic and the weather in mid-June? July seems to be the big month and September should be relatively quiet.

- Were you camping or staying at stations? We're thinking of staying at El Questro, but apart from that probably camping.

- Did you visit Mitchell Falls? I'm guessing if you did that is a side road that was a much tougher drive.

- What vehicle were you using? We're thinking of hiring a Land Cruiser

- How long did you spend on the road? I've seen some people who spend 10 days on it and others who do it 2-3 days. What's a reasonable time in your opinion?

Thanks for your help.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 9:54 pm
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If you've done those tracks, you'll be fine. The Gibb has this reputation for being very difficult, and at least in our experience it was undeserved.

Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
- What was the volume of traffic and the weather in mid-June? July seems to be the big month and September should be relatively quiet.
Pretty quiet on the road. Campgrounds relatively busy. I think a lot of people stay at camp for several nights.

Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
- Were you camping or staying at stations? We're thinking of staying at El Questro, but apart from that probably camping.

- Did you visit Mitchell Falls? I'm guessing if you did that is a side road that was a much tougher drive.

- What vehicle were you using? We're thinking of hiring a Land Cruiser
We camped. We booked an Apollo Adventure camper (Hi-Lux based). Not very 'cool' looking, but actually very practical and well-designed.

Our itinerary was pretty quick, so we didn't take any side-roads like Mitchell Falls. With the good road condiitons we had plenty of extra time though, much more than we planned, so it was definitely not a rush.

Day 1: Katherine - Home Valley Station, Pentecost Campground (basically just the very tip of the Gibb, it's sealed almost all the way to Home Valley).
Day 2: Home Valley - Manning Gorge Campground
Day 3: Manning Gorge - Windjana Gorge Campground
Day 4: Windjana to Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park, Derby

In Derby we did a day trip to Horizontal Falls before heading onwards to Broome afterwards.


Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
- How long did you spend on the road? I've seen some people who spend 10 days on it and others who do it 2-3 days. What's a reasonable time in your opinion?
So on the Gibb we spent I'd say 3 days, 3 nights. We saw a lot and did all the main hikes to waterfalls and did a side trip to Tunnel Creek. But we didn't do any major side roads. I can see how people can spend much more time there, but I think we got a nice trip out of 3 days on the Gibb and saw a lot without being too rushed.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 11:41 pm
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Thanks, mate, that's very helpful. Especially the camper idea, I actually hadn't considered that because I assumed Apollo wouldn't let you take the vehicle on the Gibb. Did you just take it one way? If so what was the one way charge? I'll probably have a few more questions after doing a bit more research.

Funny thing is a mate has done the Canning Stock Route and the Gibb, so he has some idea of good and bad is, and he said the Gibb was a tough road, but he did it about 20 years ago so clearly they're spending more time maintaining it now.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 11:57 pm
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Yes you can rent these for the Gibb, there is an extra charge. We picked the Adventurer as there was a special on it and it was much cheaper than a Landcruiser. It was $2600 AUD for 7 days and that was all-inclusive including the one-way fee ($750) and top-line insurance option. Definitely not cheap but most options that are allowed on the Gibb will have surcharges and full insurance coverage (even for flat tires) is pricey too.

One downside with Apollo is that they wouldn't offer a 2nd spare tire. They have coverage so you can get it fixed anywhere and they'll reimburse... but if you happened to get two flats before you reach service, or if you have to spend time waiting for service, it isn't ideal. If I knew that ahead of time I'd probably try to go on Gumtree and get an extra spare just for peace of mind.

I agree the Gibb reputation is probably outdated. There are many sections now fully sealed, and these appear to be the sections that would have previously been tricky (elevation changes, etc).
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