13 September 2013

Gibb River Road

Gibb River Road, a 660 kilometer former cattle road running from Derby to the Kununurra and Wyndham junction, is closed during the wet season from November till April and is usually open between beginning of May depending on how heavy the rain has been during the wet season. All the roads were open when we arrived in mid-May.

Surprisingly, the road has a large part of sealed, concrete roads as well, and is relatively easy to drive on being a drive recommended for high clearance 4WD vehicles. Our rental car was a hybrid; a so called all wheel drive, and on some parts of the road we were really pushing it. There were some reputedly awesome places we couldn't go because our car was not hardcore enough, for example El Questro Gorge Station, which is one of the most advertised destinations on the Gibb River Road.
The river crossings were by far the most scary on the trip. We didn't actually know how deep they were until we were in the middle of them. There were two big and many small ones. We were told it would be dangerous to step out of the car because of crocodiles. So we held our breath and drove through, and every time we made it through, we did a sigh of relief and applauded a little bit. Good times.
Made it through to the other side: Tunnel Creek

After Windjana we had a walk in Tunnel Creek National Park, where you can follow the Tunnel Creek through a long cave walk finding aboriginal paintings on your way ending up on the other side in an enchanting forest.
Galvans Gorge

Galvans Gorge was a welcome stop after a couple of hours driving and ends up with a cute, little waterfall.
Emma Gorge is a beautiful walk that ends up in a waterfall and pool where it's impossible to not dive in! The walk up there is not for flip-flops and is quite difficult at times(which I know too well because I was wearing flip-flops), but we got there in the end. The waterfall is small but the wonderful, clean water is cold and refreshing after a hot walk. Most enchanting waterhole on the trip.
We found out afterwards that you're supposed to pay $15 for the walk to Emma Gorge, or for the pass to the El Questro Wilderness Park that Emma Gorge is a part of. Natural wonders are expensive in Australia.
Our cozy camping spot far away from the main road at Mt Elizabeth Station

Considering the risk we were taking with a rental car, the Gibb River road went surprisingly well. Even when we decided to drive 40 km to a remote camping spot in a forest area at dusk, with big rocks and holes in the road, we made it there and back and all the way to Darwin with out more damage than some scratches. We were very lucky though, we heard about several cars that had at least one flat tire on the rugged road.

Also, there are several cattle farms in the area, some of which let the cattle walk wherever they want at all times. We therefore had to be very careful not to hit them. One time a cow stood on the side of the road. When we got closer it jumped right ahead of us. If it hadn't been for a quick reaction hitting the breaks we would have been in big trouble. We eventually learnt to slow down, look to both sides of the road and be exhaustingly vigilant. As much fun as Gibb River Road was, in between almost hitting cattle, dingoes, kangaroos, holes and big rocks in the road, it was hard to truly enjoy it, and I was a little bit relieved when we made it to the end in one piece.

We nearly hit this dingo!

The Cockburn Range in the background


  1. What an interesting story, Ingeborg. Sometimes the fortune favours fools:-)Very good fotos!

  2. I keep wondering why there are so few people about in such an interesting piece of land. Your nice pictures say a lot about the diversity and variation in both terrain and animals. The bit about fearing crocodiles when leaving the car to check the road is good. Roads were obviously a major challenge but all in all it must have been a very good trip seeing so much.

  3. I just have got many ideas about Gibb River road. The picture of Gibb River road says that it always become muddy. There is some hole in the road. So it is tough to go for the car. I think, if we want to go to this place we have to walk on foot. Thanks for some important discussion.