Gibb River Road

Has anyone done the Gibb River Road recently (as in the past 12 mths or so)? What were the conditions like? What about the crossings?

The Wet should be over in a couple of months, does anyone know when the shire grades the road?

I'd love to hear your suggestions, what to do or not to do etc, what to see etc.

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Reply By: uneekwahn - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:26

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:26

My wife any I did 2 months through the Kimberley and that included the GRR for a couple of weeks in July/August/September last year.

We had absolutely no problems on the GRR, little to no corrugations, no bulldust, some lovely water crossings (the Pentecost being the largest) and no punctures.

Unfortunately I can't help you with the question regarding when they grade the roads, although I think you can find this information on the Main Roads website (

If you have the time, see EVERYTHING. We had to miss a couple of places (Mornington to name one - I picked up a nasty throat infection and fever) but everywhere we went was beautiful.

I hope this helps.

Enjoy your trip!


AnswerID: 295267

Follow Up By: kym111 - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:36

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:36
Thanks Jason
I know it's rated 4wd & camper trailers. Would you consider it possible to tow a suitable, small caravan/pop top through there? Google Earth indicates it is no worse than some of the tracks around the Midwest (WA) that I know my parents have towed a standard Jayco Freedom pop top on (apart from the river crossings).
But it's a bit hard to judge from a satellite image, no matter how close one can zoom in.
What's your opinion?
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Follow Up By: uneekwahn - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:41

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:41
Personally, my opinion would be to not take a caravan on the GRR. I wouldn't take the risk. Having said that, we did see a few up there at some of the various camp sites we stayed at.

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Follow Up By: obee - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 18:26

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 18:26
we went down the GRR last September. We stopped to check out a bloke who shredded a tyre going over a dry river crossing and spoke to another couple who who had a flat and wanted to know where the closest repair service was and then whether it was worth going back the twenty Ks to have it fixed.

We stayed at one of the stations overnight where the lady said that the road was being graded. She said that grading left rocks pointy side up and care should be taken. When we were in Derby I discovered damage to one tyre that almost penetrated to the inside and I changed the tyre and kept the damaged case for spare. I chucked it when we got back to Perth.

Conditions on the road change with weather and use. They usually start grading shortly after the wet to facilitate the cattle trucks getting in to the stations. I recommend you call the local cops or a caravan park to find out just what the conditions are when you are close to the time of travelling the road.

Many vehicles will go down the road without a problem and you might be the unlucky one so be prepared to suffer at least two flats including irreparable casings. I think thats a reasonable precaution and I always carry the means to get through two bad flats.

Plenty of caravans have been down the road no problems but the road can be tough on the undercarriage sometimes. I dont think caravans are advisable if no other reason than the stuff we carry in them is likely to end up all over the floor. The bloke with the first flat we saw confirmed this. He was very cross with the way we look after our roads in WA!

The worst road we ever went along was the one up the cape in Qld. No sharp rocks but the corrugations were a real test of the vehicle, the camper trailer and the driver. Me.

Yeah tyres are expensive but if want that good feeling that "bin there done that" gives, and you are a risk taker (prepared), then its all in a good adventure and lived to tell the tales.

Lastly, drive carefully and keep the speed down. No point in stretching one's luck too far.

But this is what bush travelling is about, isn't it? You may the bloke giving the advice on this forum in times to come.

good luck and happy travels.

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:52

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 17:52
You could do worse than check the spiel on the Drysdale River Station site........ (road conditions page).......
Maybe give Anne or Jo a phone call - they could get you up to speed with likely openings and roads etc.
AnswerID: 295273

Reply By: Andrew from Vivid Adventures - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 18:46

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 18:46
The conditions can change quite easily...

Here's a shot at Mt. Barnett in May (after the road had been graded).

At Mt. Barnett...

The road is graded as soon as they are able - that is as much as can be said. That is usually during April through the start of May.

It is in a constant state of being graded almost... it gets bulldust issues that need to be worked on, and when it rains like it did then, they basically need to start from scratch with deep mudholes that turn to bull dust quickly, and deep mud rutts that can get quite dangerous...

But if you're patient - will to sit out some wet weather, and avoid going North of Drysdale River with the van, you will probably do just fine... at times it is smooth as butter... and then...

AnswerID: 295287

Reply By: Oldsquizzy (Kununurra) - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 20:54

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 20:54
End of April to May if the wet lets up.
Went from Kununurra to El-Questro and down to Home Valley today and back. That took just over eleven hours.
King river was just under half a metre Pentecost at El-Questro homestead just on a metre and at Home valley just over a metre.
Most floodways are still running so will be a few weeks yet.
AnswerID: 295317

Reply By: Member - Cocka - Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 10:44

Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 10:44
Like any unsealed roads in Oz conditions can vary weekly according to weather. Local GRR Councils will be able to tell you where & when they are grading . . . . . but that will only be a part of the whole road. The GRR is not a treacherous road, having said that the first rule is always drive according to the conditions. If you don't know the track, take it easy.

Strength of suspension/weight of van need to be looked at. Make suresuspension is in A1 cond., always carry spare wheel bearings and know how to fit them in remote areas, that means having the correct tools with you + grease.

Suitable tyres + spare is essential. I knock 10psi pressure out as soon as I hit the dirt anywhere (trailer & 4wd) . . . . softens the impact on the suspension, gives slightly better grip on the gravel especially over corrugations. BUT, if you want to avoid tearing the side walls out, stay away from the edges of dirt roads and tracks. Hidden there can be sharp stakes and sharp rocks. It's tempting to drive the inside wheels along the collar of the dirt as it's usually smoother but you don't know what's lurking there.

I now fit tyre pressure monitors (4), 2 to the rear tyres + 2 to the trailer when I take it. They are the 4 tyres you are least likely to feel loosing pressure, on a trailer the tyre can be shredded & rim damaged before you know it's gone . . . monitors are not cheap but a good investment, you only have to save one tyre to pay for it.

Anyhow, all this ranting, bottom line . . . . don't be in a hurry. The Kimberly is a great place to hang out.
AnswerID: 295391

Reply By: wendys - Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 15:15

Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 15:15
We were there in July/Aug/Sept 2007 (our 3rd time on Gibb). The Gibb itself was a good gravel road. Graders always on it, somewhere, which can throw up pointed stones! Biggest problem is other people driving too fast because it seems so good - though they can come to grief at creek crossings (serves them right!). Kalumburu road was corrugated but being worked on - it deteriorates rapidly. Mitchell Plateau track was extremely rough. We have a proper off road van but chose to leave it stored in Kununurra, to give us freedom to access more places e.g. Bungles. We did a circuit: Kununurra, Bungles, Fitzroy Crossing, Windjana Gorge, Bell Gorge, Mornington, Mt Barnett, Mitchell Plateau, Honeymoon Beach & McGowans, back to Gibb, Home Valley, ElQ & back to Kununurra. Only 1 flat tyre, near end of circuit, and that was just about worn out before we started. Taking your van would severely limit where you could go; depth of the Pentecost might water damage it; unless it is very dust proof you will go crazy!! Visitor Info Centre in Kununurra sells a booklet produced every year by Derby Info Centre, with latest info re what is open, facilities etc - was $4 in 2007 - excellent, as places change very quickly.
AnswerID: 295416

Reply By: Austravel - Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 20:29

Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 at 20:29

As many of the others have said I'm sure it changes every year but when we did it late 06 it was fine. Say many campers and quite a few vans. All off road versions of course. Really if your sticking to the Gibb and others say 2006 was a typical year you'd have no dramas. So long as you have a properly set up rig and as others say limit the speed. Dust was certainly a drama but we had a few leaks so it drove me nuts.

I guess it's what your used to. The Cape road is far worse (seen vans up there as well) and even though the distances were further I thought it just a rough dirt road. Now others may say 2006 was a good year I don't know as only been over it once.
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Reply By: chook2706 - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:23

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:23
Usually there is an opening grade towards the start of the season.
Depends on the condition of the road as to when they do another grade.

Like another post said, look at the Drysdale River site, it is quite a good one. Unsure as to when the road will open up, depends on when the wet finishes.

Last year was a doozy, opened up nice and early, then poured down at the beginning of June, shut the road for a few days and stranded people everywhere.

Have done the track twice, once in a Troopy, the second time in a 1968 Bedford Fire Truck (About 3 or 4 years ago). Worst damage we suffered was a broken exhaust pipe coming out of Bells Gorge. The rough bits on the first trip were smooth on the 2nd and vice versa. So it can be done in a 2wd vehicle, but take it easy and enjoy the scenery. (Have seen an EB Falcon towing a standard caravan, a Ford Festiva and Toyota Spacia on the Road. Me personally I wouldnt do it)

Plenty of free camping spots on the way. Also Drysdale, Ellenbrae and El Questro (expensive but worth the trip in, spend a couple of days.)

Home Valley is good and they are spending a heap of money there, but they wont open until the 1st of July.

Drysdale will open as soon as the road opens. I believe Anne and John are off enjoying their new boat, but their daughter is running the place.

Definitely do - Galvans Gorge, Bells Gorge (Camp at the private camping spots), the diversion down to Windjana and Tunnel Creek, Karunjie Track.

Current conditions. Road is closed past Pentecost which is 900mm and flowing fast. Durack is about 2m over. Kalumburu Road has suffered some wet season damage and awaiting the grader to come through.

Hasnt been much rain lately at the eastern end but there is always the possibility of a heap of rain in the next month or so. Middle part around Drysdale and Kalumburu has been copping a bit lately.

We are heading off on the 25th of May for two weeks to do it for the third time.

Enjoy the trip, some of the best scenery you will see and definitely worth the trip.

Guess I'm lucky, the Gibb starts less than 50kms from home.
AnswerID: 295895

Follow Up By: Andrew from Vivid Adventures - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:26

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:26
Last year the Audi A8s were belting up and down there a couple of times... with some A4s and VW Transporters and things following up...
FollowupID: 561933

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