Gibb River Road with trailer

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 19:57
ThreadID: 134642 Views:5700 Replies:10 FollowUps:8
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Hi all :)

I'm doing GRR this year with my family (incl Mitchell falls) -> 120 Prado (lifted, good tyres etc) towing a Cavalier soft top 7x4 camper. I'm after any advice to get the trailer more ready for the trip. It ""sounds"" like the Gibb shouldn't be too bad as long as I don't speed / take it easy etc. We're going in late June (before school holidays) so hopefully the road should be pretty good?

The trailer has 7 leaf (non slipping) suspension 1.5T?, 45mm square axle, 15inch wheels, overide hydraulic brakes and a treg hitch. The Al'ko website lists 45mm square axle ratings at 1450kg (not sure if mine is al'ko but as a reference).

I've taken the trailer to the local trailer guru here in Hedland and he reckons it looks ok (i was going to change the axle to 2T and wheels to match prado etc, which means new hubs, lots of $ and some serious wife approval).

I'll be puting good tyres on the trailer also as current ones are pretty old.

Any advice greatly appreciated :)

Cheers Tom.
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 20:50

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 20:50
Gibb River Road is easy these days. Lower your tyre pressures and enjoy!
AnswerID: 610145

Reply By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:04

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:04

Quite a few people headed for Mitchell Falls leave caravans at Drysdale River or camper trailers at King Edward River.

I went there last year and while I don't tow I can understand why.


AnswerID: 610146

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:39

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:39
When we were there all those with camper trailers as well as with caravans left them at the KE River camp. Makes sense not to tow it there and back.

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Reply By: Tom@sea - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:39

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:39
Thanks very much guys
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:52

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 21:52
Perhaps I should have explained it a bit better.
The Kalumburu Road was very badly corrugated, way worse than the Gibb River Road.
The road to Mitchell Falls might be described as a burger with the lot. Corrugations, rocks like footballs (I hit one which I didn't see and feared the worst after the bang) and a couple of steep creek crossings.
As I said I don't tow but if you are able to leave the trailer it would be one less thing to worry about.
And I envy you. When I was there last August the country was as dry as chips and not much more than a trickle over the Mitchell Falls. After a record wet you will see it as its best.
Enjoy it.
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Follow Up By: PhilD - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:13

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:13
I have towed a Kimberley Kamper and 5 m boat along the Gibb and to the falls (KK) and both to Kalumburu. It all depends on when in the grading cycle you go, and who has destroyed the 'roads' before you. They will break trailers, particularly to Kalumburu, so my advice is to go prepared to get yourself out of trouble if something welding gear, spares, u bolts and plates, steel, bolts, straps, chain, etc. I know as I had to fix my independent suspension on my boat trailer when I broke it through 6 mm and 3 mm steel south of Drysdale River Station last year. You are on your own out there but some people will help.
The Gibb was not too good in sections where it gets cut up by traffic.
FollowupID: 880064

Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:59

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017 at 22:59
Hi Tom
The Mitchell Plateau Road is a real suspension breaker. Drysdale Station does quite a good business repairing broken trailers. However, you really do need a very capable off road trailer if you are to travel unscathed. Two key points to minimise the chances of damage, firstly lower your tyre pressures and secondly moderate your speed. When I travelled the road in August 2013 in my 200 Series and Tvan I had about 25 psi in the front and 28 psi in the rear. Tvan was down to low 20s. Speed with these pressures was nothing above 80 and frequently much less. If necessary stop every 20 minutes or so and let the shocks cool.
The Mitchell Falls are a must visit. When you get there take the helicopter flight out and then spend the rest of the day walking and swimming back to the camp ground.
The Gibb River Road was in reasonable condition back then. Again tyre pressures and speed are the keys to safe travel.
One important consideration with tyres is that with the lower pressures light truck tyres are highly recommended. They have much stronger sidewalks amongst other advantages.
Enjoy your trip.
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Follow Up By: PhilD - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 09:00

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 09:00
Drysdale River Station will not do any repairs now due to government licensing requirements.
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Reply By: Member - Blue M - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 01:33

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 01:33
I know every year is different, and road conditions can change due to the amount of traffic after the graders have done their bit.

2012 was my best year away with my stock standard 2006 Hilux, a Jayco Eagle outback which I towed across the Gibb, to Drysdale Stn and most of the side roads.
From there I towed the Eagle up to Kalumburu, where I stayed for 5 days.

The Gibb road to Drysdale stn was ok, from there to the Mitchell falls turn off was a little worse.
From the turn off to Kalumburu was exciting, but on the way back I towed it up to Mitchell Falls.
Now that was a bit if a challenge, but doable.
The best part of the trip, it only got better on the return to Drysdale.

What made me smile the most was all the people in their "really" off road rigs that told me my poor little Junko would never survive the trip, and no way would they put their rigs over such a road.

Tom, I find the saying, "drive to conditions" does not sit well in my head.
I would rather drive to what I think my rig can handle, than back off 10%.
Haven't broken to much so far.


AnswerID: 610151

Follow Up By: Tom@sea - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 09:22

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 09:22
Thanks Blue :) really encouraging to hear.
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Reply By: Ozi M - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 08:32

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 08:32
They truck them out 3 at a time on a flat top truck !

When we were at Drysdale there was 3 campers loaded ready to go the next morning, these were too bad to fix so they were trucking them out.

All 3 had the axle and suspension ripped out completely.

However, as others have said and we all will have been bombed by them, some people think 100k on a bad road is a good idea.

Kalumburu then Mitchell Falls roads are far worse than the Gibb.

After all of that, lots of people go there so if you take your time it can be done.
AnswerID: 610153

Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 08:55

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 08:55
Having seen what can happen to trailers on really bad roads I have a few suggestions.
1 check the welds on the spring mounting points to the chassis and have them reinforced even if you think it not necessary! LOL. Fitting shocks may be also an idea.

2 carry at least one spare set of u bolts and one spare main leaf and a few spring centre bolts. The most likely scenario for failure is that the U bolts get loose the centre bolt breaks and the spring pack slides all over the place, or a main leaf breaks which will quickly turn the axle 90degrees. If you are in a remote place it is not easy to find the correct parts quickly. I have actually witnessed it happen right in front of me , on the Palm Valley entrance track. You can strap the leaf to the camper chassis with stainless zip ties.

3 Check the U bolt tension regularly , like every couple of days as they can stretch.
I have towed a Campomatic (with independent suspension) over the GRR (twice) and to Kalumburu and KE river, Grand Central, Tanami and to Cape York with no problems.
The other thing you should consider is that you will need a stone deflector of some sort as trailers take a hell of a beating from rocks thrown up from the tyres.

Also consider either buying or making a rear window shield from Perspex or even some cardboard. Windscreens are cheap but rear windows are expensive.
Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 610155

Follow Up By: gke - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 12:54

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 12:54
Good advice there.
New bearings and seals before you go and carry spares.
A lot of leaf springs apply force to the chassis over a very small area. Consider welding longer pads to increase the area and spread the load.
Safe trip, Graham.
FollowupID: 880089

Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 10:17

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 10:17
Hi Tom, all good advice above particularly Phil who mentions the need to carry a spare spring. Check the U bolts daily once you are on the dirt. The track to Mitchell Falls is a corrugated shocker so you give your passengers and the shocks a cooling off period every 20 min. Allow 4 hours to go the 80 km into the Falls campsite.
This could still be interesting as it was for us in May 2010 due to boggy sections which almost stopped us getting through. See the pix in Places The river may be too high to cross on the walk at the falls depending on how late in June you will be there........ W

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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 10:24

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 10:24
This place for pix . Mitchell falls Road & Port Warrander Rd. Use the map to click on the places along the GRR or track to the falls..... W

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 13:13

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 13:13
A look at the [ ROADS ] page on the Drysdale River Station site may be of use for your trip. Oh...keep in mind, even though I'm sure you'll take it very easy, there is of course some risk of "failing to proceed". Being able to communicate effectively out of the region is recommended...Satphone ?...HF Radio network ? Breakdown service providers can be reluctant to act on second hand advice from passers-by (understandable, in my view). That said, have a great trip - wonderful region up there !
AnswerID: 610159

Follow Up By: Member - Tom@sea - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 13:19

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 at 13:19
Thanks Darian Very good advice.
FollowupID: 880091

Reply By: Sigmund - Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 at 10:39

Thursday, Apr 13, 2017 at 10:39
Was there last year. Camped at King Edward River with the CT and day tripped to Mitchell Falls.

Also check your wheel nuts daily.

BTW that was part of a long trip involving 2500 kms of dirt. We have a decent offroad CT but still trashed the two shocks.
AnswerID: 610176

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