Kimberley Question

Submitted: Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 11:51
ThreadID: 108820 Views:1953 Replies:6 FollowUps:3
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My wife and I are planning to visit the Kimberley next Aug-Oct for 7 weeks towing a Jayco Outback Discovery van. The van is more a dirt/rough road van than an extreme off road van.

My question relates to how much we would actually be able to see with the limitations of our van. We had originally wanted to do parts of the Gibb River Road and other dirt roads in the region. I realise we couldn't do the GRR if we wanted to return with our Jayco intact but wondered if there is still enough areas that we could reach.

I would appreciate views from anyone who has actually completed something similar to what we have planned. Also - would we be able to see enough of the Kimberley given its size - in 5 weeks [2 weeks for getting there and back + 5 weeks actually in the region]?

Thank you.
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Reply By: jodie0075 - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 13:16

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 13:16
Hi there,

We just returned from the Kimberley a few days ago. I can only speak from OUR EXPERIENCE so please remember things can change on those roads fairly quickly. We did the entire Gibb River Road from the West (Kununurra) heading East. We had a 2wd high clearance Holden Colorado towing a Trak Shak camper trailer. Firstly i dropped my tyre pressure on both the vehicle and the tow down to around 28psi and drove to the conditions (slow). I would imagine if you did the same, you could also see most if not all of the Gibb. In my opinion having reasonable clearance is the most important thing on these types of roads to cross rivers such as the pentecost which we had no trouble doing. Im not sure how you would only do parts of the Gibb as most exit or entry roads are as rough or rougher then the Gibb itself. Heading East West, the first half of the Gibb is the worst. Once you get to around Mt Barnett the road improves and towards the Derby end it is great to travel on. Yes the dust will probably get into your van but then that just goes with this type of travel.

For the record we also did the Tanami road from Halls Creek to Wolfe Creek Crater, the Bungle Bungle and then the Savannah Way through Normanton etc right over to Cairns. The worst road out of all these was the Tanami, Halls Creek end anyway.

Not sure if you have to travel in Aug-Oct but if i was you i would try and go in June /July as it may get a little warm in October. As far as your time allowed, you should be able to see alot of the "big ticket" attractions in the area but you could spend alot longer.

When ever you go, enjoy!
Cheers Gary
AnswerID: 536365

Follow Up By: jodie0075 - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:23

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:23
Sorry just noticed a mistake in my reply to you. Stiill in holiday mode i think. Kununuura being East we travelled West to Derby on the Gibb River Road.

Cheers Gary
FollowupID: 820454

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:44

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:44
Apart from the fact that we did the GRR west to east I think Gary has pretty well said what I would have, especially the bit about tyre pressures and slowing down. We did the trip from the beginning of May and finished at Kununurra about 3 and a bit weeks later. We saw a lot more people towing vans than I would have expected and not all of them what I would call off road or rough road models. Actually I don't agree with the term Off Road unless you have the resources of a mob like the Gall crew.
Having said all that, we left our van at a CP in Derby and then went back along the bitumen to collect it to carry on. We had to be in Derby by a certain date because we booked a seaplane flight to the Horizontal Falls, which I would thoroughly recommend.
No way I would have considered dragging our on road van along there knowing the conditions can vary section to section depending on when the graders have been through. Not sure but as you are planning on doing it later in the season the graders may not be all that active. You can check the road conditions by calling the various stations along the way before you go. The GRR is maintained with funding from Main Roads WA but a lot of there info I found to be a little out of date. Roads off the GRR are maintained by the various stations and by the two shires at either end.
We actually did the trip with our Landcruiser ute with slide on camper. Even that early in the season the Pentecost crossing water level only came up to just below wheel diameter and was very easy.

Hope that helps a bit

FollowupID: 820457

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:55

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 15:55
How much did we see in our 3 and a bit weeks? A fair bit but certainly not all.
Gotta leave a bit for the next trip. By the way a trip into Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary IMHO is a must do. It takes all of 2 hours one way because of the many creek crossings but in my opinion well worth it if you can spare the time. The gorge tours are top stuff if a little rough. Well not all of them but a couple are. Can't remember which ones but I punched holes in 2 tyres doing side trips, one at a gorge at Mornington and one a bit further on. Adcock Gorge I think. Even so I would do those trips again no worries.

FollowupID: 820458

Reply By: Member - garytee - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 16:55

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 16:55
Wow! Thank you Gary and Pop. Brilliant replies - so detailed and helpful.
Gary T.
AnswerID: 536373

Reply By: harry & the hobbit - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 17:02

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 17:02
You can do the GRR if you are careful with your speed and tyre pressures. We did it an 20 year old Evernew van (certainly not an off road van) and only lost a cupboard door. We went from Kununurra to El Questro to Drysdale, where we left the van and went up to Mitchell Falls and Kalumbaru. Called into most of the falls on the way and Windjana before going onto Derby. Go, you'll love it.
AnswerID: 536374

Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 22:46

Monday, Jul 21, 2014 at 22:46
Hi Garytee

Although we were nine weeks in the area, we spent just over three weeks on the Gibb River Road including diversion to Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu. We took it easy but did not see everything, skipping further to access places such as Mornington. If you can camp out and do a loop to collect you caravan, you can include Purnululu (allow two or three days), and Geikie Gorge at Fitzroy Crossing. The Great Northern Highway driving time in between should only take two days.

If you do not want to camp out and still want a taste of the Kimberley, you can take your caravan to El Questro from the north eastern end. The road is now bitumised to the El Questro turnoff and although their access road can be corrugated it is only short and the river crossing near the village will be very shallow late in the season.


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AnswerID: 536395

Reply By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 at 23:36

Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 at 23:36
Hi Garytree,

Most replies have said it all and although I wouldn't take an expensive non offroader through it becomes a personal decision. So assuming that you are determined to see this magnificent region (I've been there 3 times) I invite you to read my blog(s) that I have posted "Roads and Tracks We Have Travelled - Pt 5" There are 3 blogs in part 5 and indicate some of the Kimberley features and places. On our last trip we were accompanied by a BT 50 towing a Jayco Dove --- no worries except the bumper bar fell off the vehicle.

They may have some interest for you.


AnswerID: 536443

Reply By: blown4by - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 23:53

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 23:53
I won't comment on the road conditions as other already have done so and they vary so much, as do personal opinions, it is hard to give accurate details. It depends mostly on when and where the graders have been through. If you drop your speed and tyre pressures and don't overload, your tyre problems should be minimal. Personally I would not travel that route on anything less than near new light truck (LT) tyres which are the equivalent of the old 8 ply tyres and make sure your tyres are not approaching their 'use by' date. i.e. 6 years old. I did see lots who were having type problems but this is mainly due to: too fast, too much pressure, too hot and too much load. I would recommend two spares for the tug + two spares for your trailer. If you use your trailer as a base station and travel the worst sections without it you should see a great deal of what the GRR offers. My best advice would be to come earlier in the year June-August as the time you propose can be getting very hot and humid with the possibility of early rain as well. The heat not only makes travel uncomfortable for you, but places extra load on your vehicle cooling system as well and is a tyre killer.
AnswerID: 536613

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