Gibb River Rd

Any of u experienced travelers tell me if the road is that hard to travel and also the track to Mitchell falls going September 2017 we have Nissan patrol lifted 2 inches we traveled up to Adel's grove lawn hill normanton karumba fair bit of corragation any info would be would very appreciated only me and the missus r going
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 07:34

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 07:34
When the road has been graded following the wet ( about now) the GRR is a nice easy drive, except for the 30k each side of Mt Barnett RH. This section is somewhat rocky and as the graders can't level it, is subject to corrugations, but still OK if speed is adjusted accordingly.
The Kalumburu Track out to Mitchell Falls can be somewhat rough, once you get past Drysdale River Station, but again OK if driving to prevailing conditions.

In September, you should still be OK crossing the Pentacost River. This river is impassable in the wet, but then the GRR is closed. This late in the "season", oodles of traffic may have chopped up sections of these tracks a bit, but just check with the authorities in Kununnurra (NE section) and Broome (SW section) as to current conditions as you are about to leave.

I traveled the Kimberley, including the Gibb River, Kalumburu and Cape Leveque Roads last May/June in my non-lifted Colorado and had plenty of clearance.


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Follow Up By: robert s4 - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 08:38

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 08:38
Thanks bill might go earlier I thinking July cheers
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Follow Up By: Kevin S - Life Member (QLD) - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 15:29

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 15:29
Hi Sand Man. Can you please clarify this comment: "but still OK if speed is adjusted accordingly". Do you mean adjust upwards or downwards. I fear that if you are not specific that most people will assume upwards and drive accordingly.
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 18:30

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 18:30

Adjusting speed can be either upwards or downwards.
When driving on an unsealed track you get a feeling for what is a safe speed for prevailing conditions. (Or should)
You may be driving at say 40kph on a section that may have the occasional pothole, or suffer from washouts. A slower speed will allow safer braking and steering to avoid hitting the obstacle at a high speed. Then you may come across another section that is quite corrugated and a faster speed will result in a more stable and comfortable ride.
Whether you are towing or not is another consideration and only you the driver, can determine what is safe.

Sometimes, it may be more appropriate to drive in 4WD High than 2WD. The 4 wheels driving together will provide more even traction and steering on a loose surface, than what you get in 2WD alone.

Approaching traffic should almost always result in lifting the foot off the loud pedal (both vehicles) to reduce the possibility of rocks or stones becoming airborn projectiles. The only exception is on sandy tracks that are clear of loose stones, etc.

So speed can be slower, or faster, depending on the condition of the surface you are on and the experience you have gained over the years of driving on anything other than bitumen roads.

Have I been specific enough:-)

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Follow Up By: Kevin S - Life Member (QLD) - Saturday, May 02, 2015 at 11:48

Saturday, May 02, 2015 at 11:48
Thank you Bill. That is an excellent description. But I was not asking for me. I know how to handle my tow vehicle and van on unsealed roads. I was more concerned that those idiots who will not slow down might take your comment as an excuse to drive even faster.

My own experience is that the only place where you will find approaching vehicles slowing is in advice given in Internet forums and and in gurus "how to" books and articles.

Experience tells me that to slow or pull off the road for an approaching vehicle is to invite that vehicle to speed up, a temptation that few seem to be able to resist, particularly, it seems, if they are towing a camper trailer. There are exceptions but not many. Most exceptions are those towing larger vans, particularly large new vans. The technique of most drivers seems to be to get on top of the corrugations, no matter how big they are, and stay there.

I could write a book about our experiences with oncoming traffic during our trip to the Centre last year.

But thank you for your courtesy. Your explanation was very clear and concise. I hope that many read it.

Cheers, Kevin

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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 08:39

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 08:39
It's a fully formed dirt road which is subject to heavy tropical rain during the Wet (Nov/Dec-Feb/Mar) which gets repaired early in the dry and then deteriorates during the dry with all the traffic, but hopefully will have been graded again by September. But expect corrugations which are unavoidable since the vast bulk of drivers feel they have to use it as a race track with fully inflated tyres in 2WD.

The roads to Kalumburu and Mitchell Falls are not as well maintained and are narrower and more windy. Again the major threat is posed by the other idiots on the road, for whom anything less than 110 km/hr is an affront, when 70 or 80 gets you a much better look at the country.

Give it at least a fortnight as there's absolutely truckloads to see.
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Follow Up By: Kenell - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:04

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:04
Paul B is pretty much on the money. I have done it a few times in a 2" lifted Patrol with a camper trailer. Drop down to 80kph max and I run my tyres around 25psi. I realise some will refute this but I have not had any flats and the ride is more comfortable. I haven't had any suspension issues either. Tyres and shockers tend to be common issues on the GRR. I suspect it is speed and black top type tyre pressures (40PSI ish) The grading takes the sting out of the corrugations for a little while but in many places the substrate is made up of sharp rocks which come to the surface and punctures tend to occur. I also stop every 90 mins or so just to check everything is still tight. The Mitchell Falls is a different set up - undulating, narrower and more challenging but very doable. Well worth the effort. The Patrol will do it easily if you are up to it.

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Reply By: Rangiephil - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:05

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:05
Maybe I am a woose but when I travelled the Mitchell Falls road about 4 years ago, it was by far the worst road in Australia.
Numerous cars are damaged on this road , and Drysdale Station has a good business replacing suspension components.

When I was on the roadI came across a Navara which had sheared all studs on the RH rear, and later when dipping in Drysdale Rover crossing met owners of 2 Landcruiser 200s which had destroyed 2 front shocks and 1 respectively and were waiting for parts.

I had no damage to my Range rover or Camper trailer , but you have to treat this road and the Kulumburu road with respect and drive to the conditions ie slower than nearly all rental vehicles. I found that at times there was no speed that you could "plane" on the corrugations as they were so large that I was reduced to 10Kmh on some stretches.

While I was at Drysdale there was a story going round that on that day a European woman had hitched back to Drysdale to cancel their credit card , as they had rolled their Britz Hilux camper on the GRR, and it was an excluded from insurance cover.

You have to have a well maintained vehicle preferably with newish shocks, and good LT tyres with IMHO more than 80% tread. For Nissan Patrols you have to be particularly careful that the mag wheels are torqued to spec and flush on the hub, as I have seen several lose rear wheels .
I did the GRR again last year and there are long stretches that you can sit on 70-80KMh , especially those north of the Drysdale turnoff . The bitumin now extends to the entry of El Questro, but the dirt 30Km into El Questro is now the worst corrugations on the entire GRR. You have to be a bit vigilant on the GRR as many creek dips are concreted but others have a rough rocky bottom.
Sorry for being long winded
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:15

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 10:15
The rollover was on the Mitchell falls road, which along with the Kulumburu Road are usually excluded from conditions of use of rental vehicles. And maybe that should tell us all something.

Last year my Discovery 2 wore through a fuel line on the GRR and I was recovered to Kununurra from El Questro by NRMA Premium which was excellent.
The Thrifty agent at the airport was recommended by the Kimberley Big4 manager to be a good mechanic and I found him to be.
While in his shop there was a Troopy in the corner at police order which had rolled on the Kulumburu road, so no insurance, the driver was drunk , and the blood on the headlining indicated his passenger was thought unlikely to live.
2 lives ruined.
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 11:21

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 11:21
From the posts above you have both views. That is the message, it can vary.
But, from my personal perspective, if you drive to the conditions, are not overloaded, and are wise with regards to lowering your tire pressures, you should be fine and return without even a puncture let alone other problems.most if not all of the damages reported in above threads could/should have been avoided if above simple rules were followed.
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Reply By: Member - kimberleybloke - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 11:42

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 11:42
Took this in July 2014 in Derby. Have to assume this happened on the GRR, no one around to ask what happened at the time. Probably a visual representation of what speed, incorrect tyre pressure etc can do. I see plenty of traffic heading up the Gibb road at this time, take it easy and enjoy your trip.

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, May 02, 2015 at 12:02

Saturday, May 02, 2015 at 12:02
You don't need a corrugated dirt road to cause this, I saw the same thing happen with a the same type of car on the sealed Kakadu hwy a few years ago.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 12:49

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 12:49
We did the GRR in May-June last year. I think the previous posters have pretty much covered speed, tyre pressures and general road info quite well.

Only one other snippet of info I think is relative is that other road users, including and particularly the drivers of the rather large 4WD tourist coaches that seem to think that GRR stands for Gibb River Rally.

A beautiful part of the country. Slow down and enjoy. Your Nissan should have no dramas if prepared correctly.

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Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 16:00

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 16:00
Hi All,
We did the GRR and Mitchell Plateau Road in August 2013. The key to both is to lower your tyre pressures and moderate your speed. The difference between low and high tyre pressures is quite dramatic. The low tyre pressures moderate the jar of the corrugations. A number of camper trailers in our group had issues with shocks on the Mitchell Plateau Road. We put this down to too high tyre pressures and a little too much speed. The Mitchell Plateau Road is not well maintained and for us was 80 km of unrelenting corrugations.
With respect to tyres if you have road tyres you do need to be careful with sidewall damage. Thus the lower pressures need to be managed very carefully. Light truck tyres are much less prone to this type of damage.
When we did the GRR it was undergoing a massive realignment from El Questro to the Pentecost River.
We found that the road into El Questro was being constantly graded.
Overall the area is well worth a visit. The roads are mixed and the key is to travel carefully.Mitchell Falls is a real highlight. Take the chopper out to the falls and then walk back to the camp ground. There are about 5 places to swim on the way back. All guaranteed croc free. Enjoy the trip. By the way we encountered a Holden Commodore towing a caravan successfully travelling the GRR.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 18:06

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 18:06
I was volunteering at the Kalumburu Mission in 2007 and a couple of French tourists pulled up in a BA Falcon wagon to get fuel and asked me....
"Is this Kununurra?"

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Follow Up By: wholehog - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 20:46

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 20:46
yep...I bet they travelled it successfully....and the rest of the travellers stuffed tyres, busted cheap campers and caravans, bent chassis, got confused on tyre pressures...and asked for advice on here.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, May 01, 2015 at 23:26

Friday, May 01, 2015 at 23:26
Hi Robert, you are welcome to read my Blogs from 2008 of our three and a bit weeks on what was our best trip. We went in June before the crowds. While there were some rough and corrugated patches, and the road to Mitchell Falls particularly corrugated, we lowered all tyre to 25 psi cold, and we were carrying a heavy load, and took our time. Come July, someone came into Kununurra a week or two after us and said it was the worst road he had ever been on. It also gets crowded in the peak time of July. If you go in September, there will be less crowds, but also less water, including at Mitchell Falls.

Most of all, you have to watch out for the people driving way too fast and on a tight schedule, drifting to your side of the road as they approach at speed. Also the convoys of people towing camper trailers that seem to feel the need to travel in touching distance of the one in front, sucking a up massive cloud of dust.


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