Gibb River Road

Hi,
My family and I are heading up to Broome and expect to get there about mid April. From there we will be going through the Kimberley.

We will be towing a new Jayco Expanda. We have read many conflicting stories about the GRR and whether to tow a van or not. Has anyone else done this trip around the same time of year and towed a van as well. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Regards
Waz and Wend
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Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 16:56

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 16:56
Waz


Did the GRR in early May a couple of years ago without a problem towing a camper trailer.

Know plenty of people who have towed caravans across the GRR.

Go slow and take it easy and you shouldn't have a problem.

Graders start on the road at the end of the wet and the road is in very good condition after it is graded. Check re road conditions before you do the trip in case the wet ends late.



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AnswerID: 279228

Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:06

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:06
We did the GRR, Mitchell Plateau, Cape Leveque etc area in July / August 2006 with an off road CT. No problem at all. We did come across two others with what they though were off road CTs that had failed in a big way. One was on Kalumburu Road and the other on Mitchell Plateau.

These roads vary a great deal over their length and at different times of the year. At their best, they are as smooth as a bitumen road. At their worst, they are very rough indead. The key is good preparation, then drive to the conditions. Knock about 10 PSI out of your tires, then adjust speed to conditions. Sometimes there is no alternative, but to reduces speed to 15KPH and take your time. But generally, we found that we could average around 70KPH most of the time on these roads.

I'm not familiar with the Expanda, but if it is built for off road, you should be fine. Another thing to consider is dust. We had no problem with dust getting into the camper, but some people find it to be an absolute nightmare. Once again a matter of the right set up and preparation.

AnswerID: 279242

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 23:35

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 23:35
I concurr with NormC's comments. I just checked to see what your unit was and if you have the outback/offroad suspension you'll be sweet. If not then it would be wise in the long term to have a suspension upgrade. Being prepared with an extra set of hubs with top grade bearings fitted is a smart move also.

The GRR is a good country road that sometimes (a lot) gets pretty corrugated. Lowered tyre pressures takes a lot of strain off the suspension & what it's carrying. It's awesome country and worth taking the time to see it, but taking your time is the secret.

It's worth remembering that when they grade a road lots of crap and sharp rocks get rolled out to the edges and can tear the side out of a tyre, as tempting as the smooth road edges can be they also hide expensive trouble.

Contacting the local tourism offices at Derby and Wyndham can be helpful for current road conditions.

I'm sure you wont regret making the trip & if you can get time go up Cape Leveque it's a sensational but you must book the Kooljaman camp area ahead to be able to stay there.
Best of luck and safe travells.
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FollowupID: 543433

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:21

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:21
I'll second Norm's comment - when up there 2 years back, the Gibb was not bad at all, but that means nothing for 08 of course. With the right spares in hand, and taking it very easy, there is no need to expect drama. Observations suggested to our group that vehicle design and loadings play a part, but the driver's habits have the biggest influence on how the trip goes. Allowing time to take it really easy where required will bring rewards.
AnswerID: 279244

Reply By: Boobook2 - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:38

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:38
The biggest issue at that time of year is the depth and flow of the Pentecost River. This will determine if you can go all the way or have to stop / turn around. Before leaving you should check the levels.
AnswerID: 279247

Reply By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:47

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 18:47
Hi Waz
GRR was closed for most of its length for most of April 2007. In early May it opened. The Pentecost was at a full 95cm with good cross flow, the Durack was about 70cm and slow. Later in May the road was closed again due to rain.

Cheers
Chris
AnswerID: 279248

Follow Up By: orange - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 21:16

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 21:16
re Pentecost River
I read on the Citroen rally site that the Pentecost river is tidal - or rather that the citroens plan to cross the river either early morning or late afternoon at low tide. If it is tidal, is the 95cm at full or low tide? I'm also planning to go this year so am gathering info. Thanks.
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FollowupID: 543408

Follow Up By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 11:05

Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 11:05
Hi Orange
Yes I've heard this too. But I don't know the truth of it.

I made three crossings in a fortnight and might have hit it wrong each time. I travel slowly and each crossing was the same - over the lights in the main channel for about 20-30 metres. On one crossing the troopie got a bit skittish - tail started to move with the flow. The track across is wide - and I might have found a slightly deeper path or a larger rock.

One evening in mid May, while we camped above the crossing, the grader was called out to pull a 75 series ute out - tried to do the crossing in almost dark. Grader driver commented on grader nearly getting in trouble.

I suspect that the crossing comes under 'tidal influence' rather than being tidal itself. Ie the level may rise slightly as big flows meet a high tide further downstream?? There is no tidal warning at the crossing.

Others may know more of this. But the citreon people may not if your report is correct. Tides are somewhat independent of 'mornings and afternoons'. But, if the level is only influenced by tide, then a lesser flow in late August should see lesser influence??

Best regards

Chris


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FollowupID: 543472

Reply By: Mainey (wa) - Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 21:32

Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008 at 21:32
Waz,
whatever the condition of the Gibb is now, next month or last year is not relevant to the condition when you want to go.
If that sounds like I'm being "ruff" on you they are the facts.

The Gib gets graded (as required) during the year, and it's a great drive at 80 or 90 Kph but if you go the week before it gets graded *******.

Better to ask at either end during the week before you are going to drive it to actually get the condition at that time and if it's 'off' you can then make an informed decision to deviate to the highway for some of the way as it's a great drive even when corrugated.

I've driven it 3 times, once was a **** nightmare, the other two were like a bowling green, well not exactly but was cruising at 90 Kph.
Mainey...
AnswerID: 279279

Reply By: Grungle - Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 08:36

Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 08:36
Hi Waz,

Go and get the Kedron Caravans Kimberley DVD and you can see how bad the roads get. There is footage in there of the dash of a 100 Series falling apart (radio pops out) on the corrugations of the GRR. Caravan held up but it was an offroad one (oh except for the wheel carrier/bumber on the back which fell off and was never recovered).

They do grade the roads at athe end of the wet (as mentioned), when damaged after rains and when they expect the hoards to come through. Contact the shire responsible and find out when they plan to grade and coincide you trip accordingly. Speed is a factor as well as tyre pressures so as long as you are in no rush you should be right.

Be mindful though that only the main roads are maintained so a lot of side roads to the best parts of the Kimberley's are rarely touched but this is how it should be in my opinion.

Regards
David
AnswerID: 279305

Reply By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 11:20

Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 11:20
HI Waz

I've already commented on the river crossings and saw some other comments about side trips. I agree with them - best part of 'doing' the GRR is the side trips. Even though the GRR was open, the side trips to Winjana, Lennard, Bells and others were still closed following the wet season. They opened momentarily in May - ie a couple of weeks and were then again closed due to rain.

This is a stunning piece of country. We simply holed up in various places and waited for the openings. Also talk to locals who will help where they can - eg ring the ranger to get new info

We travelled in opposite direction to you and actually drove into Derby for supplies and then back out to get a second taste.

Best regards

Chris
AnswerID: 279321

Reply By: Steve63 - Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 13:18

Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008 at 13:18
There are conflicting stories because the conditions change depending on if the wet was early, late, big or small and when the track was last graded. People are not being wrong or unhelpful. They just can't predict what the GRR will be like latter in the year. No one can. It may not even be open! We always have plan B when we go early in the season. When we did the GRR we had the trip in two parts. Part one was the GRR and part 2 was Broome and environs. Plan B just did GRR after Broome. We also had plan C which moved away from the general area to the Pilbra. We were prepared to ditch that if required. We were lucky and did the trip in our intended order though some crossings were deep. The wash was running up the bonnet a few times and we did a bit of floating for a short distance, fortunately the river was not flowing.

Basically all you can do is go and hope for the best then play it by ear. If the road is really rough you may end up crawling along. If things are bad it may take days to do a few hundred kms. You need to be prepared to ditch the itinerary if things go pear shaped. Pushing to get somewhere on day x is foolhardy.

Steve
AnswerID: 279337

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