Trek Comment: Gibb River Road

We plan to be on the Gibb with our off-road caravan in mid-July and would be i terested to hear the curent state of the track. We have just come across the Plenty and Tanami including some side trips (& horrendous corrugations into Wolfe Creek!) and have heard mixed opinions from travellers coming the other way who have been on the Gibb this season
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:59

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:59
Have just returned from an 8 week trip to the Pilbara & Kimberley regions, including a trip along the Gibb the second last week of May. The track was not as good as 3 years ago, but a late end to the wet this year meant the graders were only just starting their runs. Priority was being given to some washouts and floodways in a few places along the track.
Both Windjana/Tunnel Creek and Silent Grove/Bell Gorge areas were still closed, but I have noticed they are now open.
The absolute best stay we experienced was bush camping at Manning Gorge for 4 nights. What an absolute gem of a place this is, with basic, but adequate shower/toilet block facilities.
The permanent water hole was fabulous. This normally has a dingy to haul yourself across the water, but the original dingy had reached the end of it's days and the replacement lasted a very short time before someone decided they wanted it for themselves and pinched it. A third dingy had been ordered and was due when we were camping there, but hadn't arrived before we left.
No problem for us. The need to get wet on the crossing was refreshing and we floated our cameras, water bottles, etc. across in our dish washing tub. Did the walk to the gorge (about 1 1/2 hours each way) and swam at the gorge itself, then on returning to the pool/waterhole, we "had" to get wet again to cross back over. With ideal temperatures, we spent a couple of times each day 'chilling out" in the water and chatting to other travelers.
The pool was deeper than usual, according to the caretaker, as the wet season rains and water flow had washed a lot of the bottom sand away. The result was an enjoyable walk/swim over the smooth boulders and a short swim on occasions where the bottom was deeper than our height. A rock island in the large waterhole provided a resting and staging point for the trip across from one side to the other. This was the only way across to the other side as the wet season had also deepened the lower end of the pool and washed the alternate walking route away.
Manning Gorge was an absolute highlight of our trip along the Gibb and I would recommend a must do stopover for anyone traveling along the GRR.

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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 13:16

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 13:16
I have just crossed via the GRR .
Found the road pretty good considering but everyone has a different opinion.
One traveller I met was complaining about the road but there were plenty of Jaycos and at least one Suberu that I saw.
Deflate tyres and moderate speed and have fun
Ross N

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Reply By: wendys - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 15:43

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 15:43
You will be there at just about peak busy time! Watch out very carefully for hire 4WD vehicles - and other drivers. It has been our experience on the last couple of trips that there are far too many drivers going too fast for the conditions and they are a majorhazard in themselves.
A place that is often overlooked by travellers, but is well worth a visit, is the walk to Barnett River Gorge. There was a primitive camp area there when we first visited - no facilities - but it can also be done as a day outing from base camp at Mount Barnett/Manning Gorge.
Also recommend Charnley River and Mornington - again, a lot of the quick-rush-through-and -say-we've-done-it brigade miss these, so they are slightly less crowded.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 23:08

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 23:08
The year we went, we had a good run, with graders working, in June. A week or two later we met another caravanner in Kununurra who had just come from the GRR, and he said it was the worst road he had ever been on. Come July, school holidays and peak season crowds cut and corrugate the road fast. Also campgrounds fill whereas we has plenty or room in June.

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Reply By: Steve R17 - Saturday, Jul 01, 2017 at 21:10

Saturday, Jul 01, 2017 at 21:10
A bit late to the party. Came off the Gibb a few weeks ago, 6th trip on it. Going from West to East... First 70km or so is sealed, then you have patches of sealed and unsealed to just past the windjana turn off. After that it's all unsealed (apart from the jump-ups) but in reasonable condition up to Mt Barnett. From Mt Barnett to the Kalumburu Road is the roughest section, as it has been for many years. From the Kalumburu turn off to The Pentacost the road is in great condition, they have done a lot of work on it over the recent years. Both the big crossings (Durack and Pentacost) are easily passable without a snorkel. From the Pentacost to El Questro the road is good, after that it's all sealed.
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Reply By: Off the road - Saturday, Jul 15, 2017 at 21:37

Saturday, Jul 15, 2017 at 21:37
It's interesting listening to people describe the condition. I thought it was okay a couple of years ago when I did it, obviously there was corrugations and some pretty rutted spots, but nothing like I was expecting. I did it with a Triton and 16ft Jayco Expanda. Listening to people coming from the other direction some were saying it was horrendous. The funny thing was we're telling them if it's that bad then the worst over and the rest isn't too bad. But we found it was actually better than where we'd just come from. They would've thought we were setting them up I think.
I guess people have different thoughts with what they consider rough or "off-road".
Jayco vans need some strengthening internally, plumbing and wiring underneath needs some protection and a few other little things if you plan on doing off-road travelling. Mine survived unscathed and now I've got a 21ft Jayco Starcraft so I've had to start from scratch with all the mods again. How the van holds up has more to do with who is towing it than it does with who built it.
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Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Thursday, Jul 27, 2017 at 15:11

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017 at 15:11
Hello Off the Road.
I am thinking of buying a Jayco Starcraft 17-58-3 outback.
I was interested in your comments about the Jayco, is your new van a outback model.
Always planning the next trip. VKS-737 mobile 1619

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