Derby to Kununurra

Submitted: Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 11:53
ThreadID: 13000 Views:2615 Replies:7 FollowUps:5
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We are planning to visit The Kimberleys in July 2004 and would like to travel the Gibb River Road from Derby to Kununarra. We have a 1997 Prado GXL and a high clearance Jayco camper trailer (Finch), both in good nick. Planned route to the Kimberleys is via Alice Springs and Tamami Road to Halls Creek.

Any advice/comments would be appreciated from those that have done it recently. I see many reports that it is not a good route for a camper trailer.
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Reply By: Member - Melissa - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 14:09

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 14:09
Hi Graham,

I know many, many folks who have taken good off-road campertrailers across the GRR without only minor or no problems. Friends of mine did it last year and recently updated their website with a detail journal of their trip. Well worth a read...

The only negative I can see is the type of campertraileryou have - being a Jayco Finch. Please don't think am dumping on your trailer...just be aware that they have a reputation for coming apart under serious corregations mainly due to the interior fittings and linings being stapled together. You may need to consider reinforcing the joins somehow. However, I have heard that Jayco have made significant improvements to later models to overcome this problem. Anyway, try searching the archives on this forum as this particular subject has been dicussed before and I'm sure you will find it of interest. IMHO good preparation is the key to any successful trip.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 59262

Reply By: Graham Tranter - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 15:15

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 15:15
Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your comments. I had a look at the website you suggested..Ahhh one day perhaps!!! The diary is beautifully done and already has provided us with some very useful information, especially about Fitzroy Crossing. Your comments on the Jayco are appreciated although I can say that our trip in August 99 when we did the loop from Melbourne - Broken Hill - Arkaroola - Cooper Creek - Arrabury - Betoota - Birdsville - Maree - Oodnadatta - Uluru and back the van survived, despite the Oodnadatta track being in bad condition at the time. Undercarriage repairs to the trailer amounted to about $600.00. Nonetheless as you say good preparation is everything and I will have it checked out.

It would seem from what you say and comments from the diary that, given care, we should be able to do it.

Thanks once again for your comments, you have been most helpful. As a result, I have just paid my joining fee and will look forward to comparing notes with the rest of the group.

With kind regards,
AnswerID: 59273

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, May 21, 2004 at 12:23

Friday, May 21, 2004 at 12:23
Glad you found the website interesting. Had to laugh about their Fitzroy Crossing experience. It virtually mirrored our own experience the first time we went to FC in 1998 and we did warn our friends when they were in the trip planning stage...obviously they forgot LOL. Aside from pension day, FC is a very interesting spot to look around.

:o) Melissa
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Reply By: Davoe - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 15:38

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 15:38
did the kimberlys this time last year grr should be no problem for a decent camper but you may choose to leave it behind for certain areas such as mitchel falls (although I followed a camper in that had no probs) you say you are doing deby to kunnunura I dont know you itenry but have you considered tanami halls creek bungle bungles kunununarra grr then south windjana gorge tunnel creek geike gorge (dont stay in fitzroy xing and dont plan to canoe down the gorge) then derby
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Follow Up By: Graham Tranter - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 16:00

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 16:00
Hi Davoe,

Thanks for the tips, it all sounds positive. Have spoken to the tour organiser (I'm just the driver!). We are going via Tanami to Halls Creek, up to the Bungle Bungles then back to Halls Ck, FC, Derby,GRR to Kununurra then back home vis the Stuart Highway. Only have 6 weeks up my sleeve. The site Melissa's friends pointed to in FC was the Fitzroy River Lodge which sounds OK. I take it you suggest avoiding Fitzroy crossing as camping is not so good.


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Follow Up By: Davoe - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 16:09

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 16:09
I styed at the crossing inn c/p and although it was only $6 let us just say it must have been pension day so my opinion could be biased road into bb is rough so if you have doubts about your ct you could leave it hc(if you dare)
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Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 20:53

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 20:53
Nothing wrong with Fitzroy Crossing Lodge. Other than Ivanhoe CP in Kununurra it's one of the best in Kimberley. Sounds like Davoe got stuck in town somewhere and that's not somewhere I'd take my MIL leats of all my family & friends. Lodge CP is over the bridge on North side. Get there before 2:00 PM cos she fills up pretty damned quick after that which has got to tell you something about it's standard.
Graham if you survive the trip into Bungles then GRR will be a walk in the park provided you drive to the conditions.
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Reply By: Member - Bob - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 17:10

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 17:10
we were in the Kimberley (no 's') last month and the road was closed at Mt Barnett. Up to that point there would have been no problem with trailer. As someone said above some of the side roads would not allow a trailer (eg Lennard Gorge). The entrance and departure from some of the rivers can be steep, but shouldn't trouble your rig.
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Reply By: Baldrick - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 19:47

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 19:47
I would take my wife's Volvo along the GRR. Apart from a few corrugations it is not at all hard, just have to be sensible with speed.

Took a camper trailer along there last year no worries.
AnswerID: 59312

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, May 21, 2004 at 12:28

Friday, May 21, 2004 at 12:28
Well that's way to get rid of the Volvo although there has to be easier ways, LOL. Tongue firmly in my cheek...

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 321176

Reply By: relkins - Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 23:19

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 23:19

Just got back from the GRR towing an Outback Jayco Eagle. No problems at all, even crossed the Durack at 800mm+ on the day the road opened.

Leave the trailer at turn off to Lennard Gorge etc but allow 3 or 4 days at Manning Gorge. Tape over fridge vents to stop dust when travelling.

Bungle Bungles road is 53km but allow 2.5 hrs as slow is the go. Fitzroy river lodge is a magic spot (do the CALM cruise at Geike) but no need to overnight at Halls Creek.
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Reply By: NJ - Thursday, May 20, 2004 at 18:03

Thursday, May 20, 2004 at 18:03

You always take your chances with trailers that are not setup specifically for off road. The corrugations are the only thing that is likely to do the damage and this is only because there are so many of them. A lot depends on when the tracks are graded. If you are going the route you mentioned and not going to Broom I would not bother going to Derby. Just cut up to tunnel creek from Fitzroy crossing. You will be saving yourself 200km of nothing. Anyway, the first 130 Km of the GRR from the western end ( Derby) there is absolutly nothing to see.

If your trailer survives the tanami then you should have no problems on the GRR.

On the tanami the corrugations will be worse between the WA border and Halls Creek otherwise track is good as it is generally maintianed for the mine. On the GRR the western section of the GRR is smooth sailing.The worse corrugations will be the eastern section between the Kalumbaru Rd and Ema Gorge. If you are lucky you will follow the grader. As the finch is a shorter van you should have no problems but just drive to the conditions and remember you have the van on the back which is stappled together not glued and screwed. The kalumbaru road can also get very corrugated depends when it was last graded. So you ewill need to decided whether it it is worth going up to the Mitvhel falls. Tey and find out if any water is flowing over the falls if not it is not worth the trip up there. However if you do go to the Mitchell Falls I would leave your van at the camp site no 2 at King Edward river and then go into Mitchel Falls from there (70Km). We did the return trip in a day. When at the falls we chose to Fly into the falls and walked out. This way we could take our time. You have plenty of time in 6 Weeks. We did the same trip but included Broome and Cape Laveque ( one of the nicest places in Austaralia) in the six weeks from Melbourne but did not do anything around Alice. .

We always stay at the caravan park on the lake in Kununurra. It is just out of town but really nice.

There is also a nice caravan park in Katherine that is half way out to the gorge. It has big shady trees, a good pool and and does not get a busy as the ones in town.

You always take your chances with trailers that are not setup specifically for off road. The corrugation are the only thing that is likely to do the damage and this is only because there are so many of them.

Only my opinions but may be helpful.
AnswerID: 59440

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