Trip advice - 3 wks, Perth-Karijini-GibbRiverRd-Perth

Submitted: Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 17:43
ThreadID: 131274 Views:3049 Replies:11 FollowUps:15
This Thread has been Archived

We are planning our first Kimberley trip for late June and we have 3 weeks to tackle Perth-Karijini-GibbRiverRd-Perth.

I know its not long enough to see everything, just trying to make a plan to see as much as we can.

Driving a (well maintained) turbo-diesel 80 series Landcruiser and hiring a decent camper trailer for the 3 weeks.

This is our current itinerary (its a .htm web file)

Basically going up the coast way, 2 full days in Karijini and 9 days on GRR then back on the inland road.

Any feedback on this much appreciated as its all new to us (have come up with this from a few books and a lot of websites).


Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:15

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:15

I have done the Kimberley and Karijini and believe you are not allocating enough time.
You could do the trip sitting in a vehicle in the time you have allocated.
To really see places you need to get out of the driving seat and walk. There are a lot of fantastic walks in Karijini.
You have left out the Mitchell Plateau - a must do.
Sometimes time is a factor. My suggestion would be to either do the Kimberley or Karijini in the time you have allocated - not both.

Life's great and it just keeps getting better

My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 594479

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:18

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:18
Wow! you certainly have some very long distances in there. I trust you realize you will not be able to average more than about 80-90 km/hr on the sealed roads so for instance your 947km leg will take close to 12 hrs, plus the set up and pack up time. You must really like looking at the white line.
Why the restricted time? I think your plan is over optimistic,
AnswerID: 594480

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:08

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:08
The time is primarily restricted to 3 weeks by my Annual Leave balance.

To be honest is was primarily to do the GRR, but when I looked at the map and saw we would be driving past Karijini I thought we might squeeze a few days in there.

FollowupID: 862871

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:31

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:31
Just realised that its actually about 715 Km from Geikie Gorge NP to Eighty Mile Beach.
Google Maps issue (it get confused when the destination is not on a road).
It says about 7.5 hours .. though I expect you are right about averaging 80-90Km/h
FollowupID: 862874

Reply By: MarkLH69 - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:18

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:18
Thanks for replying and I agree it is somewhat rushed.

We were planning on doing the plane flight from Drysdale station up around Mitchell Falls.

Do you think the falls would still be spectacular in Late June ?
AnswerID: 594481

Reply By: Kenell - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:54

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 18:54
It is good that you have done your research and arrived at an itinerary which in theory looks achievable. I have done the GRR a few times from east to west but only one as a return trip. I was there in 2000 when the road was barely passable as the rivers were up to a metre deep still. In 2005 in contrast a bandicoot would have had to pack a picnic lunch to cross a paddock it was so dry. The GRR is very unpredictable. In some places you can be restricted to less than 40kph for hours at a time with a trailer. At other times you can comfortably find 80kph and sit above the corrugations. It is notorious for tyre damage - the trailer is often the victim - and fading /boiling shock absorbers. Hiring a trailer restricts your ability to influence the quality of the tyres on it. Although some will disagree, tyre pressures and speed on the GRR are as important as brakes and engine oil. If you contact Drysdale shortly before you go you will get a good understanding of conditions and you can book your flight - it can be pretty busy at that time. As others have said you really are attempting more than you might appreciate in the timeframe but good luck anyway.
AnswerID: 594484

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:05

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 19:05
Thanks, we were only planning on taking GRR 1 way (West-East), then taking Highway 1 on the way back (slight detour to camp at Geike NP).

The hire trailer we are using (which is a "Complete Campsite" one) seems to be well maintained.
Tyres were decent (at least when we checked it out !) and he gets the wheel bearings done every 10,000 Km apparently. (I asked if it came with a spare wheel bearing just in case).
Does have a spare 1 spare wheel and as they are 6 stud I think one of my 4WD spares could be used if required in emergency.

FollowupID: 862870

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 20:22

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 20:22
A lot of driving for the 3 weeks Mark....have you already been to any of the attractive places in between Perth and Pt Hedland ? I had a shorter, possibly 'better trip quality' itinerary suggestion, but you may have already been out there ?
AnswerID: 594487

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 00:23

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 00:23
Nope, haven't actually been passed Murchison yet going North.

Pretty keen to do GRR though .. like every other 4wder I guess !

10 years time hope to be Grey Nomad and will get to see everything hopefully.

.. though expect much more will be bitumen or locked up by then too.
FollowupID: 862893

Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 12:12

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 12:12
Great to see your detailed plan Mark - such though and consideration for these decent outback trips is to be applauded. In my view though, the excessive driving will end up being a big negative....there is a danger that you'll end up back at home and just wonder what the hell it was all about. That said, I must admit I used to bite off too much when I was younger and gradually the formula has changed to less driving and more 'quality' (easy to say I know, now that we are retired). If, for example, you went up the great northern, then through Marble Bar to Hedland, down to Tom Price via the rail access road (easy to get permit) you could end up over at the Exmouth / Coral Bay area. Time on the Ningaloo coast* and Shark Bay** area would be hard to beat as part of a 3 week trip up there. By way of explanation (I could be speaking 'out of turn' because I'm from Adelaide :-), we've been around WA 3 times (two of the trips were in 14 and 15, one earlier)...we'll probably be back in 17....the place is so good. I think the general Kimberley region can be a whole lot of trip in itself. Best of luck with whatever you choose.....regional and outback WA has so much to offer for those that appreciate the natural environment !
*For example, if you spend a couple of days in Cape Range NP and swim with the tropical fish along the edge of any of the Ningaloo beaches, you won't want to go home at all (and our 'camping' pick is Yardie Homestead, just outside the park - we drive in daily).
**Hamelin Pool, Nanga Bay, Francois Peron NP....all top spots to see (restocking in Denham).
FollowupID: 862908

Reply By: Top End Az - Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 22:32

Monday, Jan 04, 2016 at 22:32
We underestimated the time we needed on the GRR and Kimberley 2 years ago and we had 4 weeks leave and we are in Darwin where Kununurra is only 8 hours drive . Maybe prioritise what the main things/regions you'd like to see, then go from there ie do the Pilbara on the way there, or on the way back if you have time.
For my 2 cents; El Questro was good for a few days, and the Western end near Windjana, Manning, bell Gorges were great and had a few nights there. Not a lot in between unless you go up to Mitchell Plateau/ Kalumburu then add another four or five days.

I love driving all day, but the missus and kid got jack of it quickly.
AnswerID: 594492

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 00:27

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 00:27
Thanks, it's only me and "the mrs" and she would probably share some driving too.
Different when you have to entertain kids I would imagine !
FollowupID: 862894

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 09:11

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 09:11
Good to share the driving. Reduces fatigue and the risks it brings. We take it in two hour shifts and can cover a lot of distance in a day.
Make sure the hire company knows what you're intending. Maybe ask as well for a spare stub axle or leaf spring. Air down its tyres as much if not more than the tug's too.
Sorry if this is egg-sucking territory.
FollowupID: 862901

Reply By: pmk03 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 11:04

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 11:04
Unfortunately we don't all have unlimited leave to do these trips but that said I have always travelled further than most would think sensible in my 4 or 5 weeks annual leave... & I wouldn't have it any other way.
We travelled to the Kimberley from Melb in 2004 & spent two & a half good weeks in the area. We had already seen most of the places on the way there & back on previous trips so we travelled though these places quickly & over long days of driving to get to the Kimberley region.
It's still one of the best trips we have done in this fantastic country. & I have travelled all over it in the past 30 odd years.
I say drive carefully & do what you can in the limited time. Maybe leave Karjini for another trip & concentrate on the Kimberley.
Go for it, there will be plenty of time to do it again & slower when you retire.
At least in the mean time you still get to experience some of what is out there.
Cheers, PMK
AnswerID: 594497

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:54

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:54
Thanks, we're looking at making it just GRR and saving Karijini for another trip !
FollowupID: 862963

Follow Up By: pmk03 - Thursday, Jan 07, 2016 at 12:08

Thursday, Jan 07, 2016 at 12:08
Even I think that's wise, & I've done some crazy trips in my time !
Have a great trip
Cheers PMK
FollowupID: 863044

Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 11:58

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 11:58
My suggestion is to take a high speed video camera.That way you can have a look when you get home. It is one thing to drive somewhere, but another to a "see" a place. Had you thought of flying to Broome or Kununurra and hiring from there. That was my options in my working life, although I did accumulate enough frequent flyer points tp take wife twice a year.

AnswerID: 594498

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:53

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:53
Yep, did consider the Broome hire option, but would prefer to us my own 4WD and equipment.

Not intending to see everything, just get a feel for it and will return again with more time one day.

Maybe in 2 years when I will have some Long Service Leave due.

FollowupID: 862962

Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Sunday, Jan 10, 2016 at 13:45

Sunday, Jan 10, 2016 at 13:45
It'll all still be there in 2 years, when you have your long service leave.

Spend your 3 weeks around Karijini, Gascoyne, Murchison and see some magnificent country through there. That way your family will probably still want to come with you in 2 years to the Kimberley. If you have a rushed 3 weeks with w wry day in the car trying to do the GRR, you risk never getting them in the car again!

My two penneth worth, from bitter experience.
FollowupID: 863243

Reply By: Craig M1 - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:34

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 20:34
Hi Mark
It's great to see consistency in advice. To do both Karijini and GRR in 3 weeks would be a big push.
Certainly 3 weeks just doing the GRR would be the way to go.
There are some truely magnificent sights and most require a good walk and then some time to absorb the scenery and to take a swim.
You would have 7 days on the bitumen, 3 days getting from Perth to the start of the GRR and 4 days coming back from the eastern end (Kununurra).
I would consider approaching the Gibb River Road by first travelling out towards Fitzroy Crossing and then take what is called the Leopoldo Downs Road into Tunnel Creek , then onto WindjanaGorge and then onto the GRR. This is a beautiful drive and a good gravel track, much more scenic than the drive from Derby out to Windjana.
Regards Craig

AnswerID: 594516

Follow Up By: Top End Az - Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 21:10

Tuesday, Jan 05, 2016 at 21:10
I agree with this opinion also. Go to Fitzroy crossing and then up Leopold Downs Rd. Save some time and get straight into the action. Last time I did this road it was a bit rough, but then 15 years ago I did it in a Camry (which I don't recommend) but some moron had removed the 4wd only sign at the time.
FollowupID: 862934

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:51

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 12:51

Would have been an interesting trip in a Camry !

Thanks for the advice, we will definitely go in to GRR the Fitzroy Crossing way if its more scenic.

Is there good camping near Fitzroy Crossing ?,
Or would it be best to just get supplies there and head in to GRR ?
(.. But that would be a 1,000Km day if we went from Pardoo to Winjana Gorge via Fitzroy, so probably not !)

If we do skip Karijini and get an extra 3 days on GRR, which campsites would you recommend settting up at for longer (to use as a base to explore from).

These were our original planned camp stays:

Windjana Gorge Campsite - 1 night
Manning Gorge Campsite - 1 night
Mornington Wilderness Camp - 2 nights, 1 day exploring
Drysdale Station - 2 nights, 1 day doing scenic flight
Home Valley - 1 night
El Questro Wilderness Park - 3 nights, 2 days exploring

I guess we can always chose at the time as there is no booking for most these I believe.


FollowupID: 862961

Follow Up By: Top End Az - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 14:29

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 14:29
Windjana gorge and Tunnel Creek: you could probably squeeze both into 1 day and have a night there.
I'm not aware of any camping at Fitzroy Crossing; at the risk of offending someone, it's a good place to get fuel and a pie and keep going, others might disagree.
Home Valley to Drysdale is a bit of a hike and will take longer than it looks on the map, but doable. The Kalumburu Rd is traditionally fairly rough and choppy unless the grader has just gone through so could slow you a bit. Allow the best part of a day to go between the 2.
We liked ElQuestro and if you had a spare day I would spend it there. Sounds like a great trip.
FollowupID: 862976

Reply By: Craig M1 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 15:01

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 15:01
Hi Mark
4th night at Fitzroy.
The Fitzroy Resort and caravan park just on the east side of town is nice .
Otherwise fill up at Fitzroy and about 10 km along the Leopoldo Downs Road on the east side at the old Oscar Range Mine site is plenty of bush camping sites and a nice pool.
Then Winjana, Silent Grove (bells) , Manning and Mornington as you have planned.
Then I would add in 2 nights at Mitchell Falls, the road was fine when we did it and the river crossing easy (Jully 2014) but if you are worried you can stay at Drysdale River caravan park and charter a flight over them.
I would then add a night at Home Valley at their riverside caravan park to watch a sun set on the Pentecast escarpment, it's pretty good and maybe see a few crocks.
Then 3 nights at Elquestro ( 2 full days, you will need it).
If you enjoy a good long walk away from the crowds the Champaign Gorge trek is nice. The track can be hard to follow over rocky areas so be careful to mark your track.
Don't forget to visit Emma Gorge on the north side of GRR also.

This is still rushing the GRR , you could easily spend an extra night at some of the places. Remember if you rock up late to a site then 2 nights realy only gives you one day.

Below I have also added in Kununarra and Purnululu ( The Bungles) both a must if you are up in this part of the world.

Then 2 nights at Kununarra, either in Town or preferably at the Lake Argyle Dam and if possible include a sun set dam boat tour.
A min of 2 nights preferably 3 at Purnululu ( the Bungles)

Then 4 nights getting back home

Night 1 north of Meekatharra
N 2 around Ausky Road House
N 3 south of Broome
N 4 Fitzroy
N5 Windjana
N 6 Silent Grove(Bells)
N 7,8 Manning Gorge
N 9,10 Mitchell Falls
N11Home Valley
N12, 13, 14 at Elquestro
N 15,16 Kununurra
N17,18, 19, Purnululu (you could do in 2 night but would not do it justice)
Plus 3 nights to get back home

Regards Craig
AnswerID: 594544

Follow Up By: MarkLH69 - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 18:47

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 18:47
Thanks Craig for the detailed response and suggested alternative.

Not sure we can include Kununarra and Purnululu this time around.
Maybe one of them .. if we drop Karijini.

(We have to be back for night 21 so we can clean the hire camper trailer on day 22)

So many options .. we will probably be back up there in a few years anyway to see some more.


FollowupID: 862998

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 17:06

Wednesday, Jan 06, 2016 at 17:06
Hi Mark

We spend over three weeks on the Gibb River Road with side trip to Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu; see My Blogs for 2008 outline what we saw, which was only the basics. I always wanted to go, but had to leave my job the achieve it. It was the best of all our trips. One some of the roads 100 kilometres a day took several hours and was enough for the driver. The biggest hazard on the Kimberley roads is those that drive to fast because they haven't allowed enough time.


Red desert dreaming

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 594549

Sponsored Links