‘We were looking for adventure, and we found it on the Gibb River Road’

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Pentecost River crossing
John and Lorraine prepare to carefully cross the Pentecost River.

By John & Lorraine H

We had been warned about corrugations, mud and washaways, creek crossings, crocodiles and razor sharp stones turned up by the grader … but at no time were we intimidated by the trek we were about to undertake. We arrived in May when the roads had recently opened and graded after the Wet season, and we were raring to go.

We had also been warned about towing on the Gibb, but were comfortable that our 2011 Kedron ATV 21’ caravan with independent suspension, towed by our 2003 GU Nissan Patrol would make the distance.

We had tackled the Oodnadatta Track a couple of years earlier and our plan in the Kimberley was to take two weeks crossing the 700-kilometre track, camping in national parks and homesteads.

We enjoyed the national park campsites at Windjana Gorge and Silent Grove, and our favourite freedom camp was in the Barnett River Gorge where positioned ourselves for almost a week beside the river. We discovered homemade scones at Ellenbrae Station and celebrated the end of our journey at El Questro sipping champagne on a sunset tour of the gorge.

We were warned by scaremongers about the ‘stakes’ planted in the water crossing heading into Ellenbrae Station but we had no issues. The only puncture we received in the two weeks was at Silent Grove, John managed to locate the hissing pinhole and plug it without even having to remove the tyre … all in the time it took me to register to camp.

Another bucket list was ticked crossing the Pentecost. We talked to travellers on the track about conditions, watched for several days as the tide rose and fell and, not wanting to walk the crossing due to local salties, we watched other vehicles cross to see where rocks and holes might be.

I always worry about fuel and water, but at no time were we in dire straits. We carried an extra 20 litres of diesel which we did not use.  Fuel is available at two roadhouses, Imintji (diesel only) and Mt Barnett Roadhouse (petrol and diesel), and also at El Questro (petrol and diesel). Be prepared to pay for some of the most expensive fuel in Australia, but remember how it gets there, tankers have bought this fuel in along some of the most remote roads in our country!

Water was not an issue. Good quality water is available at the national parks and homesteads, our campsite beside the pristine Barnett River provided us with plenty of water for showering and washing. Our caravan has three 100 litre water tanks, one of these is dedicated drinking water; we did not have to top this up at any time during our visit to the area. There are no dump points along the road, so be prepared to take your shovel and cassette for a walk, dig a hole well away from any water way, to a depth of at least 300ml, and ensure you fill the hole in after emptying your cassette.

We did not see many caravans on our trip, mainly roof top campers on 4WDs or camper trailers. Definitely no wizz bangs. There were a few off-road caravans.

Our casualties:  One broken cup, a container of spilt sugar, one broken drawer catch, a bottle of mint sauce lost its lid (no spillage) and our power kept tripping off.

Would we do the Gibb again, oh yes!  But we have other tracks to find and cover off first!

Our Gibb tips

  • Secure your paper towels and toilet rolls … corrugations do strange things to them!
  • Pack your fridge and pantry even more carefully than you would normally.
  • Reduce your tyre pressure, and constantly check your tyres as you travel.
  • Make sure your spare tyres are in good condition (we have three across the 4WD and caravan).
  • Cover vents on fridge, but uncover them when stopping for any length of time.
  • Approach water crossings with caution and drive to suit the conditions.
  • Don’t be too complacent. Well planned trips should always end up enjoyable. You don’t want to be the one in need of roadside assistance out there.
  • Before you leave, check road conditions (https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au) and confirm that the road is actually open.
  • Travel is only permitted during the dry (roughly May to October), and cannot commence until the road is graded and officially.

Have you tackled the Gibb River Road. Email us here to share your experiences?


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