Gibb River Road Itinerary

Hi All,

Planning for GRR/Kimberley trip is well underway and am looking for a bit of feedback if possible about campgrounds.

Below is the rough plan for the GRR and would appreciate any feedback/recommendations based on previous experiences.

Nights at each place will vary but here goes:

- Windjana Gorge
- Silent Grove
- Mornington Wilderness Camp
- Charnley River Station
- Barnett River Gorge
- Drysdale River/Miners Pool
- King Edward River or Mitchell Falls camping (recommendations please)
- Ellenbrae Station
- Home Valley Station
- Diggers Rest (maybe??)
- El Questro

I appreciate everyone's thoughts and look forward to your responses.

Cheers, Lloyd
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Reply By: Member - John N (SA) - Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 22:51

Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 22:51
G'day Lloyd,

we are doing a similar trip next year. Thanks for putting this up - I will watch with interest the various suggestions and of course your reports for this year.

Cheers

John & Di
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 23:52

Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 23:52
Hi Lloyd

We chose Windjana and Silent Grove, but did not take the long drive to Mornington. We did stay at Charnley River for a couple of days - our only Station Stay. We had two nights at Manning Gorge (Mount Barnett). Two nights at Drysdale to catch up on the laundry. Three nights at King Edward River camp (my favourite). Leaving the caravan we took camping gear up to Mitchell Falls car park/camping but had enough daylight left after our long day to return to base. We went on and spent three nights at McGowan's Island camp Kalumburu, another night at KE River just to enjoy it, and a night at Drysdale again. We bush camped before getting to El Questro to maximise time there (Home Valley was shut for renovations) and three nights at El Questro with very full days to see most of the very best. You can check out My Blogs to see our three and a half week tour.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Anthonyp0808 - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 00:14

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 00:14
We were there in August last year. In summary do morningston if you have time,King Edward as a launch to Mitchell Falls, skip Home Valley and revel in El Questro.

My blog on trip with links at
http://ultimatepigpen.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/kimberley-caper-completed/
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Reply By: braggy - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 07:14

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 07:14
Try and get to Mornington early in the morning as you have to radio them from the gate (100km ? from homestead) to see if there is a vacancy (limited numbers)

Mitchel Falls camp ground and an early start will get you on track out to the falls before the day tripping crowd

Mc Gowan island (Karlumburu) majic spot, (as mentioned)

The views, sunset , fishing, tides and crocs at the river camp at Home Valley,
maybe worth a go

Cheers Ken
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Follow Up By: Kris and Kev - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 09:42

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 09:42
For some reason I am unable to post a new reply? I have to use the Post Follow Up function?
May River closer to Derby end is a great spot to camp.
We stayed at Michelle Falls and were able to do the walk nice and relaxed as well as going for an occasional dip in the river near the camp. Don’t forget to look at the Aboriginal art on the way up and look for the burial cave.
Do Mornington Wilderness Camp and hire a canoe.
Agree with Home Valley beside the river, excellent spot.
At El Questro try and get a private camp spot beside the river and if you can afford it, do a helicopter flight!
Kevin

May River



Canoeing at Mornington Wilderness Camp


Home Valley Station camping
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Reply By: Mary-Anne M (Qld) - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 13:21

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 13:21
I agree...give yourself plenty of time at El Questro...so much to do.
I also think that if you can get up at the crack of dawn...most of the gorgeous stops along the way are best viewed before everyone else arrives. Have a great time....Doing the Gibb is so amazing, you will just love every moment.
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Reply By: Lloyd W1 - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 16:40

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 16:40
Thanks for the info everyone... it sounds like El Questro is the place to spend a few days.

Interesting to see conflicting reports on Home Valley Station.

One thing I would like some info about is which of the places I have listed only warrant a single night stay, I'd rather spend our time at the nicer places.

Also Kevin mentioned May River, is this signposted?

Cheers, Lloyd
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Follow Up By: Member - Graeme W (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 17:21

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 17:21
Hi,

With regards to places that only warrant a single night I would suggest that both Ellenbrae and Home Valley fit this category.

I was last there in 2010 so I don't know if things have changed, but these are my thoughts:

Ellenbrae is worth a stop for the fresh scones with jam and cream. You'll see signs advertising them well before the turnoff. The campgrounds are OK but there are no other attractions.

Home Valley has excellent facilities, including bar, restaurant and swimming pool. There's also a campground with facilities on the Pentecost that is much quieter than the main one and has a lot more room. There wasn't much to do at Home Valley in the way of walks etc. I think they run fishing tours.

If you wanted to arrive at El Questro early to try and get one of the private camp sites, Home Valley would be good for that.

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Follow Up By: Member - Graeme W (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 20:46

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 20:46
I assumed from the order that you listed your itinerary in, that you were going west to east. If that's not the case, ignore my last paragraph.

Graeme
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Follow Up By: Lloyd W1 - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 10:04

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 10:04
That's correct Graeme and your info about 1 nighters is great and I like the idea about staying at Home Valley to get to El Questro early so with that in mind I can refine my planning a bit more.

Lloyd
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Follow Up By: Kris and Kev - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 11:22

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 11:22
Re May River, we had a guide book, I cannot recall the name, and I am unsure if the camps book had it? From a web site it says - From Derby, May River Turn-off (Free Campsite/Barra Fishing) is 40.50 km, (turn-off at Meeda + 12km to campsite.)
I remember that from Derby the turn-off in on the left and you travel through private property (station) to the river, that also being part of the station. I think you basically just keep driving straight and then veer to the right and the track gets narrower and then a few bends and then the river crossing. The owners do not mind people staying there, as long as the place is kept clean. The water is nice and clean. The road can be found on Google Maps, here it is but it may not be clear for you to make out. Kevin

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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 18:31

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 18:31
Hi Kevin, is there an crocs in that river? Always worry after that incident up Cape York beach a few years ago.
Cheers Bruce
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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 18:36

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 18:36
Hi Kevin, is there an crocs in that river? Always worry after that incident up Cape York beach a few years ago.
Cheers Bruce
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Follow Up By: Kris and Kev - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 20:55

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 20:55
I have read on another site that there have been crocs there, but when we were there in July 2011 there were a few campers and no one mentioned any crocs. We felt safe camped beside the river and went exploring a bit and never saw any signs. Were we were camped it was shallow gravel, very clear and easy to see the bottom while up the other way it was deeper and harder to see, but people were also camped there and fishing off the bank. One of the other campers, who were in a caravan, were going up the river in the shallow end to fish for barra. Not sure if they caught any. Kevin
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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 07:43

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 07:43
Thanks Kevin will check it out when we get over there.
Cheers Bruce
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Reply By: i'machocoholic - Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 21:31

Sunday, Mar 31, 2013 at 21:31
You don't say how long you have allowed for the GRR, nor how self sufficient you will be...this may affect where you eventually go, eg do you need power as not everywhere will allow generators.

From your list, I would actually recommend doing the lot! It's all brilliant, and even though this will be my third year in a row for visiting the Kimberley, we will do everything that you've listed again, plus some!

If you feel like reading our blogs to get some ideas of what we got up to on previous visits, here's the link:

Grant and Linda
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Follow Up By: Lloyd W1 - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 10:14

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 10:14
Hi Grant and Linda,

Looking at spending a couple of nights in the Bungle Bungles, 1 night at Fitzroy Crossing, 3 in Broome at the start and then approx. 18 nights on GRR and probably skipping Wyndham and Kununurra as we'd rather spend our time on GRR.

We will have a camper trailer and be reasonably self sufficient so I don't imagine that dictating too much based on what I've worked out so far.

Lloyd
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 11:54

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 11:54
Hi Lloyd,

To miss Wyndham and Kunanurra would be to miss some top Kimberley spots. Five Rivers lookout at Wyndham is unique, and the croc farm (if it is still there) was very interesting. Between Wyndham and Kunanurra is the Parrys Lagoon wetlands with the ability to get close to the bird life of the area. In Kunanurra you can look around the Ord River scheme, do a wonderful cruise up the river to the Ord River dam, go out to Ivanhoe Crossing. Around Lake Argyle you can do a lake cruise, see the Durack pioneer homestead and have a look at Keep River NP, a real gem. Just soak up tht amazing scenery.

If you have not already done so, strongly suggest reading Mary Durack's "Kings in Grass Castles" to give you some idea of the early European history of the area and what it might have been like to live in such magnificent but isolated country.

More detailhere in our blogs from 2002, and also in our blogs from 2008.

Cheers ,

Val
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Follow Up By: i'machocoholic - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 13:08

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 13:08
Morning all,

Lloyd, as you are finding out, there's definitely a lot to see, and the trick is avoiding the need to move on every day. You would have seen from our blogs that in some places we did overnighters, and others we spent a couple of days. Thankfully we have the Tvan now so overnighters aren't a burden when packing up :-)

I don't want to tell you what to see and what to skip in your 18 days, as what appeals to me may not appeal to you, and vice versa. All I can say is that your list is comprehensive for the days you have allocated, and you will see some spectacular sights at those places. Just remember that you won't see everything, but that's ok, because then it gives you something to plan for when you next visit....

I also do agree with Val about Wyndham and Kununurra - if you had a couple of days spare at least, there is so much to see and do after spending nearly 3 weeks in the dust.

Have a wonderful and safe trip; we may see you on the road, and I hope you really enjoy all the magic that the region has to offer!



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Follow Up By: Lloyd W1 - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 17:09

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 17:09
Hi Grant,

I will take on board what you and others have said about Wyndham/Kununurra. We may pick up a day or two depending on how things go as you found out with the road closures in 2011.

Your blog was a great read and helpful (some nice photos too) and I was happy to see the humble Paj as your mode of transport. We too will be taking a 2010 NT GLX for our trip and I was curious how the Paj went and what suspension upgrades you have done if any?

Out of curiosity which way did you come back to Adelaide once you reached Broome (we are also from Adelaide so am wondering if there is an easy option to get back without too much backtracking)?

Plan is to do exactly as you did via the Tanami but then do GRR West to East (with all the traffic by the sounds of your blog) and then head across to Katherine before heading straight back down the middle to home.

Lloyd
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Follow Up By: i'machocoholic - Tuesday, Apr 02, 2013 at 16:32

Tuesday, Apr 02, 2013 at 16:32
Hi Lloyd,

It's Linda here (Grant's definitely not the chocoholic!) :-)

Glad you liked the blog, the Paj has been a true workhorse and hasn't missed a beat during our adventures. We did upgrade the suspension for our initial trip with our caravan - it's a combination of Old Man Emu with 400kg constant load springs which can make the ride without the van a little hard but I guess I'm used to it now.

I've been travelling to the Kimberley for nearly 25 years, and managed to do the GRR in both directions on numerous occasions - my personal preference probably is to go east to west, but other than that there's no real advantage in my opinion.

When we came back to Adelaide last year we went the Great Northern highway as it was going to be the quickest (I had to get back to work), ie across to Katherine from Kununurra and back down the Stuart. There's only so many ways to get home so back tracking may be unavoidable.

Hope you enjoy the Tanami - I've heard many say that there's nothing to see. Maybe we took a different route as I thought it was fabulous! Can't wait to do it again.

Linda.

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 15:09

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 15:09
Hi again Lloyd,

Maybe you have seen this website here. The full Kimberley Travel Guide (see bottom of the web page) will cost you $27 and is excellent value.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Lloyd W1 - Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 16:56

Monday, Apr 01, 2013 at 16:56
Hi Val,

I have already downloaded the free sample and was definitely thinking that the full guide will be worthwhile, the website alone is a great source of info.

Cheers, Lloyd
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Reply By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Saturday, Apr 06, 2013 at 03:57

Saturday, Apr 06, 2013 at 03:57
Mate,
Start at the beginning, and finish at the end. Look at everything you can along the way, and where you are near the end of the day will dictate where you will stay that night. Definitely do Mornington, and don't miss Tunnel Creek.
That's the way way we approached it when we filmed it in 2011, and we did it (including Kulumburu) in about 17 days from memory (on the Gibb River and Kulumburu Roads). As stated above, spend time in and around Kununnurra and take in Parry Creek.
We used The Kimberley - an Adventurers Guide (I think it's called) by Ron and Viv Moon as our bible.
And if you have the time, also have a look at the Damper Peninsula ……. It is very different to the GRR, and beautiful.
Cheers
Laurie
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