Sealing the Gibb River Road?

Submitted: Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 17:32
ThreadID: 132822 Views:4199 Replies:9 FollowUps:16
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There's a pretty hot discussion been happening on the ExplorOz Facebook page about the recent decision to lay 10km of bitumen along the Gibb River Road. For those without Facebook the discussion is based on this news article - BROOME ADVERTISER so I thought I should share it here as I haven't seen it discussed on the Forum yet.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:22

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:22
Ten kilometres - that is next to nothing. At the Derby end which is before the real adventure starts. It has been a few years since they sealed the El Questro end.

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:35

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:35
And how it has changed over the years!
All the jump ups are now sealed and all the rivers except the Durack and the Pentercost are concrete now.
In 1995, there were sections that were 2 wheel tracks with grass growing in between early in the season.
And virtually all the free camping spots along the way are gone.
Progress?
Not the way I see it!

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:47

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 18:47
Stop it Peter. Please

I will be heading up there in August for the first time and I am certainly envious when I read the stories of those who travelled that way decades ago and camped alone in the special places that are now visited by thousands and fenced off with bollards!

Cheers

Rocco



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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:23

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:23
Sorry :(
In 1999, we were the 3rd & 4th vehicles into the Mitchell Falls camp area for the season (after 2 Heliwork vehicles who were setting up a fuel dump and base to operate from).
No fees, no national park.
The road in was a bit slow though....





We stayed 4 days though.....

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Peter
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:34

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:34
Yes 1997 just 4 other vehicles at Mitchell Falls .Adventure back then stopped anywhere to camp and explore .I feel like I really do not want to go there anymore even though spectacular place.I loved Jacks Waterhole beautiful place and go for canoe and explore .But heard closed. .
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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:43

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 19:43
I'll second that Peter.
We have fond memories of the Gibb R. road as you have described.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:14

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:14
All this could be said about all the OUT BACK TRACKS !! or so called tracks .
I vaguely remember traveling to Alice springs back in 1973 dirt road Pt Augusta to the NT border & corrugated the hole dam way :-( & birdsville track ... what track .
cheers





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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:32

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:32
Nik b you make a good point .But why not leave the last of the frontier as is,we already have world class tourist attractions Kakadu,Uluru Alice Springs area etc etc So I think its fair to leave some tracks for adventure.
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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:33

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:33
It's that kombi again.
This used to be a track, but that's progress.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:08

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:08
Lazylux 16 ... i'm with you all the way brother !!!

GRR is one of those great treks that don't need messing with , there's a good bitumen road around ... for the townies ...hahaha
we luved our trip down the GRR & wld hate to see another go !!

cheers
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:13

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:13
I have spoken to people who did Darwin and Perth in Holdens back ye olde days .They said it was a nightmare but wouldnt have had it any other way.Bitumen can drive you mad whiteline fever put cruise on how boring ...
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Follow Up By: travlinon - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 22:29

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 22:29
Now I'm feeling my age. My first job as a cadet surveyor in 1969 (almost 50 years ago) was working on the Gibb River road. The contract involved surveying the section from about Ingliss Gap to Gibb River station, which at that time was where the road virtually ended, with just a track continuing on to Wyndham. It was used purely as a road for the stock trucks and as such we virtually saw no traffic unless they were carting cattle to Derby. In the three months on the road we saw only one tourist type vehicle and at times would go a couple of weeks with no vehicles at all. In 2009 I toured the road and had a hard time remembering any of the features due to the huge changes. I did find at one of the gorges, that we had set up camp almost 50 years ago, the faint remains of a boabab tree that we had carved ( it wasn't known as graffiti in those days). Hopefully it will take another 50 years to finish bitumising the road.
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Reply By: Top End Az - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:30

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 20:30
The GRR unfortunately is now easily traversed in a Hyundai i30 2wd hatchback. I did it in a Camry 15 years ago which was probably not the best decision I've made considering some of the water crossings, but nothing that a tarp and WD40 couldn't deal with.

The 10km being sealed Derby end was high quality gravel surface about 3 years ago when I did it last (in a Dmax). Was able to sit on 100kph quite safely as it was quite flat and straight. Not sure much is being lost to be honest. It's the East Kimberley that is more rugged.

I guess the cost of upkeep of the unsealed road is prohibitive but again, it takes away from the adventure aspect of the place. Yes, the adventurers want it kept as is whilst the road trains don't want to destroy their trucks getting cattle to market. However, every km sealed means more Toyota Corollas at that next exclusive waterhole.
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Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:29

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 21:29
If someone wants to stay home instead of going to experience The Kimberley because it's getting too soft let them miss out.
We're at Cape Crawford at the moment. It's single strip bitumen from Barkly Roadhouse to Cape Crawford but it's still remote.
Think of the people that live on these roads and the trucks that have to service the areas - fuel, cattle trucks, general carriers - then someone has to rebuild the roads after the wet and during the tourist season.
If you need to travel by dirt road you can easily get your fix. If you want to drive them in a Kombi, Falcon,Vauxhall with an esky and a blanket the option is still there for anyone that wants to.

Don't forget those dirt roads turn to mud when it rains. We're sick of mud. Give me the dry.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Reply By: Ken - Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 22:54

Monday, Jun 20, 2016 at 22:54
A whole 10 km, really, why would it matter. Just think, if it did all get sealed the opportunities for people to go on about how they went there before the bitumen. rah, rah rah. I recall the Eyre Hwy before it was sealed, would anyone seriously want it like it used to be!
There will still be plenty of challenges off the GRR if you want them, the cost of maintaining it in its present state needs to be considered along with the real reason for it being there in the first place. It wasn't meant to be a tourist attraction.
If they could find the money seal the lot and do the Tanami as well. That would then a potentially very useful bit of infrastructure that would enable easy access to the west from Alice Springs.
Ken
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 00:28

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 00:28
Ken, you might just get your wish. News article from today.

"Projects that are expected to vie for funds include a marina in Broome, a deep-water port in Exmouth, and a $127 million upgrade of the Tanami Road from Alice Springs to the Kimberley, as well as building an Outback Highway from Winton in Queensland to Laverton in WA."

Foreign investors in line for cheap loans

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - WBS - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 08:30

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 08:30
Seal the GRR? - Yes please, the sooner the better.

Seal the Tanami ? - Yes please. That way I could get to the Kimberley without having to go all the way to Katherine and turning left or across Nullarbor and turning north to avoid the dirt.

Seal the road to the Cape? -Yes please, but not the OTT, just the development roads and the bypasses, I'm not a totally spoil sport!

Seal the Great Central Road? Yep, that would be nice too.

I've never did see anything adventurous in chattering my way across hundreds of km's of bone jarring, vehicle wrecking roads. I'm over them, having done my fair share in the past. When you do it as part of your job, the romance of it doesn't seem to be there. These days, being retired, I look upon those roads as a necessary evil to be traversed to arrive at a wonderful destination or to experience the beautiful scenery that the roads lead you through.

I certainly didn't lament the sealing of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to Eucla. In fact I thought it was fantastic, having driven the dirt road a few times. That was a nightmare! Apparently some people now think its fun and actually drive the old sections where they can for the adventure! I get it that it may be fun, but not for me!

WBS




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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:34

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:34
WBS - I couldn't agree more. Mick Urlich, an old 'Slav prospector who lived next to us, on a gold lease at Higginsville, put it in a nutshell, back around the late 1970's - when the Coolgardie-Norseman Rd was fully upgraded to full width National highway standard.

Mick's exact words were, "You know, they reckon that new highway cost a million dollars a kilometre - and they're complaining about the cost! You wanna know something? It's WORTH EVERY CENT THAT IT COST!..."

"When I first arrived here in 1923, the 'road' was so bad, it was easier to drive through the bush, ALONGSIDE the road!!
The 'road', was just two deep rutted wheeltracks, full of bulldust, potholes and bogholes!! It took the best part of a day to get to Coolgardie! (120kms)"

Back in the "bad old days", it cost a fortune to get anything transported when roads were poor - and you had to rail anything even moderately heavy!
I can recall the transport cost on camels for the cement for the Niagara Dam wall was 400 Pounds ($800) a ton! - in 1897!

Any area lucky enough to have a rail line, was in clover - anywhere else, getting your heavy goods moved was a struggle.
Any road upgraded to National Hwy standard is a godsend, and a national asset, and no-one will ever regret building it, it's worth BILLIONS to the nation!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Jun 30, 2016 at 14:24

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016 at 14:24
But then there are those who will never get the opportunity to have the experiences that we have had .... I feel sorry for the kids who have no idea of what an amazing lifestyle we had without all the comforts back then ... :-)
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Reply By: Tony H15 - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:57

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:57
Is the GRR itself the reason so many go there - wasn't for me, the GRR was just a means of traversing that part of the country. Sealing it would simply make it a more comfortable drive and allow more tourists to visit this part of Oz.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 11:39

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 11:39
Yep, many thousands more tourists!
I am grateful we got to those places first.

Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: Trevor&Verna - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 21:55

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2016 at 21:55
I' m just back from GRR and it might as well be all bitumen - the dirt road was in such good condition. Been on bitumen roads in poorer condition.
No hardship there if thats what one is looking for.
Mitchell Falls Rd is still "rough".
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 15:02

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 15:02
Hi T and V many people up at Mitchell Falls what's camping there like now I was there when free camp just plonked ourselves anywhere .cheers
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Follow Up By: Trevor&Verna - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 22:56

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 22:56
Gday Lazylux,

Sorry, I didnt take a lot of notice about free camp sites at Mitchell.
We camped at King Edward River - nice spot - and did the run to Mitchell Falls and back in the same day. Not too rushed and we saw what we wanted.
There were a few other vehicles doing the same run but it was not too busy at that time. Plus the road was just recently opened due to rain in May.

I'm guessing there might be camp spots up the Surveyors Pool Road. Didnt notice much around closer to MF where one could set up. The several tracks I saw were restricted access.
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Reply By: Ozi M - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 08:35

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2016 at 08:35
I think the very first place to start is to make the river crossings safe, it would not cost that much compared to sealing the whole road.
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