Gibb River Road

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 19:05
ThreadID: 29541 Views:2162 Replies:9 FollowUps:9
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I was wondering if someone could give me some advise on traveling this road with a toyota prado towing a 17th jayco pop top (off road). I am travelling around oz in Sept 06 and am trying to gather as much info as possible before i go on where i can and cant go with it. I am in Perth and often go away 4wding so that side of things isnt a problem, i just need to know what the limits (considered by others that have done this track) to taking this set up on that track.

Any advise would be Appreciated

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Reply By: Member - Martin- Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 19:43

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 19:43
Hi Daniel

We did the Gibb River Road last June in a Patrol towing an off road camper trailer, we found the road to be in good condition but it will depend what time of year you are planning on doing it . The road itself was corrugated in parts and like a freeway in others, we met some people who were telling us their horror stories of blowing 4 tyres between ELQ and Mt Barnett but they also mentioned that they had done that part of the road in some ridiculous time. We just drove at our own pace and stopped when ever we wanted and never blew any tyres or had mechanical problems.
Also preparation plays a big part make sure you have good tyres and your vehicle and van are serviced before you leave as any breakdowns out that way will cost you a fortune.
If you are interested here are the places that we found really nice:
1/ Windjana Gorge is a must see it was breathtaking and you can get some really good photos of the Fresh water crocs there was hundreds of them you can also camp in the designated camp grounds i think from memory there was toilets and cold showers there is also an area for those wishing to use generators when camping, the only thing we found was it got really busy (again time of year) so we carried on up the road and stayed at a road side parking area called March Fly Glen not the greatest name but the view when you wake up in the morning was stunning.
2/ Mt Barnett Station be prepared to stay here for a few days and just relax it has the best swimming hole.
3/ Drysdale River Station it is the friendliest place on the GRR (in our opinion) and has the best bar and restaurant you have to try their famous burgers and you can also leave your van there and carry on up to Mitchell Falls.
4/ ELQ nice spot but over rated and over priced but saying that the Helicopter ride was stunning.

Just take your time and enjoy yourself and soak in the Kimberly life but remember once you have been you will want to go back.
AnswerID: 147651

Reply By: Notso - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:02

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:02
Brother in law did it about 18 months ago. Jayco Eagle Off Road Camper.

Only problem was a broken fridge. All the shaking wrecked the coils I think.

We did it with an Obriens Off Road Trailer and it was no worries. It was around June 2004 and the road was good. Corrugated in places but there were a few caravans doing it as well.

Saw a few with tyre problems but most of them were Original Equipment tyres from Japan or Thialand.

Nice camp site at Ellen Brae Station which is west of Emily Gorge.

Tunnel Creek is worth a look as well while you are at Windjana Gorge

AnswerID: 147657

Follow Up By: Big Family Trip - Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 00:56

Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 00:56
Does you brother-in-law rate the Jayco Offroad setup and would he recommend it to someone considering buying one ?

Like Danial I am planning a big family trip - 8 months round Oz with wife and two kids aged 3 & 5. We had been planning on using something like the Trakshak camper trailer, but as we we will be living in the van for an extended period and arfe planing mostly on-road or reasonably well travelled areas like the Gibb River Road, we are now considering a Jayco Eagle.

Any comments on their reliability, useability, durabilty etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Geoff
FollowupID: 402785

Follow Up By: Notso - Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 09:24

Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 09:24
He did a lot of rough roads mainly up through the oodnadatta track and the Tanami and Gibb River Rd. He also did the Mitchell Plateau but left his camper at Drysdale Station.

The only problem he had was with the Fridge, cracked a coil or something like that.

He has since sold the Camper and gone up to another Jayco Pop Top off roader.

FollowupID: 402842

Reply By: Member - David 0- Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:09

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:09
You will find the road is far from the horror it once was, though by Sept it will probably nt be at its best. As the previous poster said make sure you have good tyres, and take it easy. Run your tyre pressures at the lower end of your safe range, typically 26 to 28 psi. There are so many great sights to see. ELQ may well be overpriced, but there is a good reason, you will be amazed at so much water in so many gorges- do as many of the walks as you can, Zebbedee springs is lovely as are many others. Drysdale river homestead is great, as is the miner pool-we caught about 20 Sooty grunter there-only kep two though.

The best aboriginal art in Australia is in the Kimberly in my view, and I tried t see as much of it as I could. You will love the place.
AnswerID: 147658

Reply By: Member - Michael B (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:30

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006 at 20:30
Travelled the Gibb road in June with a Landcruiser and Trakmaster and had absolutly no problems, road is highly corrugated in places and dead smooth in others. My only reservation would be, are there decent shocks on the Jayco ?
Saw a couple of vans having a hard time of it by travelling slowly and shaking
themselves apart, keep the speed up on the corragations and its much easier on
both units. Bell George out of El Questro is with out a doubt one of the really great
sights in the Kimberleys.
Mike B
AnswerID: 147662

Reply By: Browser - Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 09:18

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 09:18
Hi Daniel,

I was on the Gibb River Road for two weeks last October. The road is generally pretty good but there are sections of heavy corrugations that will take their toll on the van in one way or another. It might only be something minor but no vehicle can take that amount of vibration without some sort of impact.

Things start to close around late October, early November for the wet season. Ellanbrae station had already closed when we were there and Drysdale was preparing to shut. It's also very hot at that time of year. When were you planning to be on the Gibb River Road?

Plenty of places to see and most have been mentioned already by others. My favourites were Tunnel Creek, Bell Gorge, Home Valley, El Questro, come to think of it, they were all favourites!!!! A little detour to Mornington Station is also worthwhile.

A definite requirement is the Gibb River Road guide available from the Derby Visitors Centre Derby Visitors Centre. For $4 it gives you lots of information about the various sights to see as well as good information on where to stay and what facilities are available. You can order online or you can phone them up and they will mail a copy out to you. Also the Hema Map of the Kimberleys is worthwhile.


AnswerID: 147740

Reply By: potta - Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 12:37

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 12:37
Hi all,

Thanks for all your responses, they have been great and i am confident that i will be able to travel the road with out to much problem. I cant wait to head out there and start traveling. I have wanted to do so for some time now.

Thanks again!
AnswerID: 147770

Reply By: AdlelaideGeorge - Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 15:56

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 at 15:56
Hi - I agree with everything said - I did the length of the GRR in June last year and it got a bit rough after the turnoff to Kalumburu and Mitchell falls/Drysdale River St to El Questro but otherwise not too bad at all. Was only in the car though - not towing anything. Keep the tyre pressures down as advised - I fitted new Desert Duelers before I left Adelaide - did 8,000 kms there and back with never a puncture or any damage to them at all
If you want to do the plane trip over the Mitchell falls from Drysdale River St make sure you book in advance. We went all the up there form the GRR to take a flight and they wouldn't put one on until they got a planeful or at least a decent party. We couldn't wait around just hoping so had to continue our journey to Darwin without the flight - very very disappointing. I 'phoned them to book a room in advance from a sat 'phone from Bell Gorge and they didn't mention booking a flight in advance so I didn't know about the requirement of numbers until we arrived - then it's too late! Why not have one price that makes allowance for 1 person or a planeful? Surely that would be the best way - just work out the average costs and GP over 12 months and divide by the average number of passengers. You could argue some would pay more than the reduced fare ea for a planeful but surely to disappoint some people like we were is really silly. Just my view

AnswerID: 147809

Follow Up By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 06:32

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 06:32
Hi George,
Can we just make your comments a little clearer to all please. I regret to say you have mede it sound as though we refused to do the flight till we got a plane full. It is not and never has been a matter of ' they wouldn't put a flight on ' . As I am sure you will recall the plane will go for any number if you are willing to pay the price. The prices are set for a min of three passengers but we have in fact had people pay for three seats and fly with only the two of them.
Alligator Air will never refuse to fly due to low numbers, the plane goes the moment the passengers themselves decide there are sufficent numbers for each person to be happy with the per seat price.
Yes you are correct the price per seat reduces as the passenger numbers rise but if an average was set and it covered the plane ever doing the two hour flight with only one passenger ( or two for that matter) the averaged price per seat would be so high no one would want to pay the price. If the price was flat for any number it would end up doing 3 trips a day with 2 passengers on it, because once you offer that option you must go as soon as you get two people wanting to fly.
I'd also like to say that years back there was a flat rate ( with a minimum of 3 passengers on any flight). What we got constantly then was people going really crook saying " Why doesn't the price come down when we have 6 people in our group, that is a rip off to charge the same each for 3 as for 6"
Guess it's the old story, you can't please everyone, some want it set up one way, some want it the other way.
We don't set the price or the rules but most people are pretty happy with the way it works now and I am very surprised that others were not around to share with you, I checked the records and the plane flew almost ever day in June.
You don't mention if when you phoned to book the accommodation if you also said you wished to do a flight. If you did then one of us would normally have written you in the flight book (especially as you had a set date for arrival) and told you the way it works. I appoligise if you were not informed, I find that strange.
If you didn't say you wished to do a flight then I guess none of us would have forseen the need to tell you all about it.
I agree with you I wish everyone would advance book as it would make all the seats a better price for everyone but as most just walk in and want to fly that day or the next morning, we then have no control at all over making sure there are others available to share to bring the seat price down. We do try and if people advance book we activly try to organise others to fly at the same time to reduce the price for all.
I am sorry you were unlucky enough to be here when there were not enough others wanting to fly on the same morning to bring the seat price down.
cheers, Anne

FollowupID: 406138

Follow Up By: AdlelaideGeorge - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:44

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:44

The point of my contribution was:

1. to alert travellors to the need to book in advance if they want to take a flight (no I didn't book when I booked the accomodation by Sat 'phone from Bell Gorge - I didn't know it was necessary so of course I was unaware of the policy/requirement/situation); and

2. To give my opinion that you could consider having one price - I didn't know any of the history and you run your business and know the facts and figures - if it's not possible/practical, then it's not.

Booking a flight was not mentioned when I 'phoned and I didn't mention it either - again the point of the contribution was to alert people to the need to be proactive - there was no non-responsive offer of "and do you want to book a flight?/dinner?/etc from the lady that answered my call.

When we went to the shop next morning at 8-30am to see if it would have enough people for a reasonably affordable fare for my wife and I (I've forgotten how much it was and there were no other passengers who wanted to go on the 9-00am flight) the lady at the shop said we could "rent/lease/book out the plane if you want to" I'm not sure the phrase exactly it was 6 months ago. I thought that was a sarcastic (or at least a very not-funny) comment - not what we wanted to hear after being disappointed. I realise now after reading your response that she probably wasn't being sarcastic - some people are wealthy enough to just book the plane for themselves I suppose - ahhh - what it must be like!

People will remember me - I made it clear I was disappointed and even the pilot was there I think.
You'll note i did say "a planeful or at least a decent party" - I did not mean to imply or say that a planeful was mandatory for the flight to go.

The relevant facts are as correct as I can remember them after 7 months odd and I have asked my wife if this accurately reflects our experience and she thinks it does. Nothing more to say.
George & Di
FollowupID: 406303

Follow Up By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 19:23

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 19:23
Hi George,
I was actually agreeing with you about it being a great thing to advance book, also that if folks give any indication at all thay want to fly to be sure we do give them all the relavant info. With phone calls we just have to find a medium between supplying all info and sounding like a hard sell !
What a shame you didn't mention you wished to fly when you arrived that afternoon before, you possibly missed seats on the 6.30 am flight which is the most popular.
The only thing I wasn't keen on was your comment " they wouldn't put one on until etc etc "
As we have now cleared up that up then I take the rest of your comments on board.
Thanks for you thoughts, we always need to keep trying to improve it for all,
cheers Anne
FollowupID: 406322

Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 20:51

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 20:51
Well done Anne.
And it is a good reminder for me. We'll be up your way in August. Providing I can convince Kathryn to get on a small plane, we'll now ask the right questions and give plenty of notice if (hopefully when) we fly.
Norm C
FollowupID: 406338

Reply By: Big Family Trip - Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 00:58

Thursday, Jan 19, 2006 at 00:58
Hi Daniel,

We are considering buying a Jayco Eagle or Swan for an extended family trip. How have you found the Jayco pop top offroad rig ? Have you encountered any reliability problems ?

I am also Perth based and would be interested in your commetns as a Jayco pop top owner.

Cheers, Geoff
AnswerID: 149530

Follow Up By: potta - Monday, Jan 23, 2006 at 18:37

Monday, Jan 23, 2006 at 18:37
Hi Geoff,

Sorry for the late response, I have not taken delivery of my Jayco yet, so am unable to help you out im sorry. But for what i need and want to do i found it to be the best. Lets hope it is..

Cheers, Daniel
FollowupID: 403818

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:00

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:00
Hi Daniel,

We did the GRR in May/June last year. There was three in our group all towing offroad campertrailers. Generally the track condition was surprisingly good, in places excellent. The eastern end around the Cockburn Ranges towards El Questro is quite stony. We all travelled with reduced tyre pressures to soften the ride and impact with rocks etc but not so low that the side walls were left bulging and overly exposed. We had Cooper ST's that only had about 30% tread left, another vehicle had new Cooper STT's. The third was using standard road tyres and he was the only one to have tyre problems which consisted of 3 blowouts.

As for where you could take your Jayco, probably just about everywhere except Lennard Gorge which is notoriously rough even without a trailer. Access to Old Mornington was also a bit rough over the last 30 km's or so but still do-able with care.

We also went into Mitchell Falls and up to Kalumuru. From the GRR to Drysdale Station the road was excellent. Recommend a Kimberley burger from Drysdale and great camping at Miners Pool. North from Drysdale to Mitchell Falls T/O track deteriorated with alternately good and very bad patches. Still no problem taken with care. Great swimming and camping at King Edward River. There are a lot of differing opinions about taking trailers from KER to Mitchell Falls with some preferring to do Mitchell Falls as a daytrip and leave their CT behind. We took our CT's in and although it was slow going only the last 15km's or so of the track was really rough. The third member of our party (the same one with tyre problems) broke a shocky mount coming back out to the KER but it was no surprise to us as he drove this section very aggressively instead of just taking his time. Also, his CT was more light weight and not as robustly built as the other two on the trip. Therefore I recommend if you have any doubts about the Jayco, leave it a KER.

The track between KER T/O to Kalumburu was definitely the worst we encountered during our entire 8 week trip being corrugated, rough, washed out, lots of dips and clearly not as well maintained as the rest of the Mitchell Falls Rd. But again, still do-able. We saw a couple of off-road CV's at Honeymoon Bay so your Jayco should be okay. Having said all that, we didn't think much of Kalumburu or Honeymoon Bay and wouldn't go back in a hurry.

Highlights for us were:
- El Questro and hiring a tinny with electric outboard to cruise up Chamberlain Gorge, loved El Questro and Moonshine Gorges and lovely meal at restaurant too. Expensive yes but you go there knowing that and considering where you are and what you get, I think it was pretty reasonable. Put it this way, we didn't leave there thinking we got ripped off as we did some other places.
- Mitchell Falls hiking in, wonderful day picnicing and cooling off at the falls then 26 minute helicopter flight out to the mouth of the river, over Little Mitchell Falls, Surveyors Pool etc and back to camp. Absolutely awesome so recommend you spoil yourself if your budget will stretch.
- Manning Falls with great camping and swimming down behind the Mt Barnett roadhouse.
- Bell's Gorge well worth a look and beautiful reflections late afternoon.
- Windjana Gorge fantastic like entering another world almost. Set up your camper there and take a drive down to Tunnel Creek and don't forget your torches and wear shoes you don't mind getting wet.
- Bungle Bungles you didn't mention but if you're going that way you won't have any problems getting the Jayco in there. Heaps of CT's being taken in and access track really quite good although slow because it is quite winding and lots of dips.

Have a fantastic time. I can't wait to go back!

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 152545

Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:39

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 17:39
Terrific info Melissa, thanks. We are heading off in June and will be on the GRR in early to mid August. We plan on going just about anywhere the Hilux and Odyssey CT will take us.

For budget purposes, about how much are the helicopter and plane flights in the area. I'd love to take some. Everybody who has done them says they are great. Kathryn is not a good flyer, but I'll work on her.
FollowupID: 406302

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 18:12

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 18:12
Hi Norm,

Have a look at SlingAirs website for info on flight options and costs. The helicopter flight we did over Mitchell Falls was the Surveyors one. The other families travelling with us did the longer Coastal flight. We took the shorter one as we were worried about how our 16 mth old would react but she fell asleep almost instantly and slept the entire way and our 4 year old thought it was awesome after his initial nervousness. So it turns out we could have done the longer flight. Mitchell Falls was my first helicopter flight. Tell Kathryn it is totally different to being in a plane. We're completely hooked now! Member - BigKidz who we were travelling with also did a scenic plane flight from Kununurra over Lake Argyle, Argyle Diamond Mine, Bungles etc. Can't remember the cost but hopefully Andrew will see this post and fill you in himself.

One thing I forgot to mention in my original reply although I'm surprised I did as it was a real highlight was the Ord River Cruise we did with Triple J (cruise ID: J3) all the way from the dam wall at Lake Argyle back to Kununurra. Very higly recommend it!

BTW when we were at Kalumburu there was a couple up there who had towed a microlight all the way from Canberra. They were up there for a couple of months flying up and down the coast and even a trip in Truscott. They took both my husband and I on a scenic flight over the coast which was fantastic but a right place right time kind of experience.

I wanna go back NOW!

:o) Melissa

FollowupID: 406307

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