Travelling along the Gibb River Road

Submitted: Friday, May 16, 2008 at 22:32
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We are travelling for the first time along the Gibb River Road in June in our Patrol with a camper trailer & kids. We have been adivised that water crossings dont warrant a snorkel at this time of the year. Does anyone see a problem here? Thanks VM
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Reply By: Mainey (wa) - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 22:40

Friday, May 16, 2008 at 22:40
Pentacost River crossing, look and watch or walk it

Maybe is a web link to river heights ??

Mainey . . .
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Follow Up By: tukka - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:46

Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:46
Definitely do not walk across unless you wanna become lunch. The Pentecost river level does not rise and fall quickly unless you have had at least 200mm of rain in a day or two. The river flows all year round at a depth of about 450mm. If not sure about river then just pull in to Home Valley Station just up the road and ask when there last crossing was. They are in and out all the time so there sure to know. But whatever you do dont walk it, just cross nice and slowly from comfort of the car. The Pentecost River is tidal but the tide does not affect the crossing in anyway. Its pretty safe to say that unless there will be substantial rain in the area then there will be no worries for the rest of the year.
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Follow Up By: Member - andrew B (Kununurra) - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:49

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:49
What Tukka said

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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 15:23

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 15:23
The ABC give regular water depths and road conditions. Just listen to the radio.
Make sure you give back more than you take

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Reply By: ian - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:10

Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:10
I don't imagine you will have any problem at all, particularly late in June. But, last year there were big rains in June, and crossing was not on for a while there. If in doubt, make a cuppa and watch others cross, there will be plenty of vehicles.
Have fun
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:39

Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:39
Hi vicmark - might see you there. Our son went last year, early July, soon after the June rain. No snorkel and no problems with river crossings.

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Reply By: chook2706 - Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:51

Friday, May 16, 2008 at 23:51
Just come back from the Wyndham - Gibb River/Drysdale end.

Pentecost is no more than 2 foot ( can get a bit higher with the tidal influence)
Durack is the same.
Gibb River and Drysdale are about a foot.

Snorkel not necessary, unless you are trying to head to the Mitchell Plateau. Currently the King Edward is 850mm deep, big rock in the middle.

Other current info for those interested.

Road north of Drysdale to Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau is still officially closed, grader is there somewhere, no one really sure when it will officially open.

Road conditions are good, in fact too good. Some cars doing 110k/hr, which causes problems when they are hitting the corners, floodways and creek crossings. One rollover involving Britz a few days ago, going too fast around corners.

Road around the Drysdale/Kalumburu turnoff is just starting to get corrugated, I reckon it will be well corrugated in the next few weeks. Quite a few bulldust areas.

Bindoola jump up is now bitumenised.

Gibb River community have put signs up around the Gibb River crossing saying that all the free camping areas are now day use only.

Would recommend no more than 80 - 90 k/hr because of the unexpected floodway/dust hole that appears. Keep an eye on your camper trailer and slow down a bit more, check that it is a good off road trailer. Most of the places up there are regularly repairing them and dont recommend that you take them along.

Diesel at Kalumburu is $2.85
Drysdale is $2.12.

Enjoy the trip, well worth it.
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:23

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:23
That's a real disappointment regarding the free camp at Gibb River. We staid a couple of days and it was a very nice stop over. Didn't appear to be any rubbish and pretty tidy. We camped on the southern bank as the northern bank by mid arvo was packed. The next morning by around 9am everyone had gone, had the place to ourselves until just after lunch and again it filled up.

Any ideas why it's been closed down as a stop over?
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Follow Up By: chook2706 - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 04:58

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 04:58
Two reasons.

Amount of rubbish that is being left behind, especially toilet paper.

Second is because the stations around there want the business in their paying camp grounds, rather than the free campgrounds.

Pity, it is one of the best camping areas on the Gibb.
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 08:39

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 08:39
I'm afraid based on most actions you see today it's probably the second rather than first reason.

When I was there mid 2006 the only rubbish I saw was at the provided bins. We staid a couple of days to relax in by the river and didn't see much if any rubbish lying around. Interestingly the only spot we saw dunny paper was on the western side of the road in what looked like a small road maintenance camp. They'd left broken grader and dozer parts (track) and exposed toilet waste on the ground.

Sadly more and more spots are being closed and we're being funnelled into areas that can be controlled and cashed in on.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 15:47

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 15:47
So if it is "community" who have put up the signs - do they have the right to put up roadside signs, and who has the right to ask campers to move on?


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Follow Up By: wendys - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 17:46

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 17:46
All the land along the Gibb/Kalumburu roads is pastoral lease, aboriginal land, or managed by CALM. Each of these stakeholders have right to refuse camping on their patch. Reasons: lack of consideration by previous campers resulting in those of us who follow paying the penalty. Biggest issue in the past has been toilet waste and general rubbish left around. Many of the streams that are great for camping are also the water supply for properties further downstream. I have seen campers washing IN a creek and using shampoo liberally, then washing clothes and dishes in there with lots of detergent. was on the Gibb one year when a group of campers abused station hands mustering near where they were camped and interfered with the muster - result: that area permanently closed for campers ever since! Russ Creek used to be great for camping but became very rubbished.
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 21:28

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 21:28
Hi Wendys,

I'm sure owners get very annoyed when there good will is abused. All I can go by is my visit there and saw very little rubbish. I do understand the problem and try and put myself in property owners shoes and wonder how I'd act. Though often wonder as well if anyone can really cast the first stone. It's more so that as a society we've changed and most have little concern for others. That goes for both parties!

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Follow Up By: Richard W (NSW) - Monday, May 19, 2008 at 08:06

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 08:06

Thanks for the heads up.
Traveling through mid July, without the camper. ;)
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Follow Up By: AdlelaideGeorge - Monday, May 19, 2008 at 15:29

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 15:29
In May 2006 in regard to the GRR and camping alongside it I posted:


My wife and I did the same trip last year. We found many places - just look out for indistinct tracks into the bush and use commonsense. Camp fires wouldn't be a good idea unless you have express permission from the leaseholder/landowner (of course!!) but if the land is unfenced and you take all the normal precautions you should be able to mostly bush-camp and be free of the all the overcrowding/ghetto blasters/swearing etc that is common in campgrounds.

How can it be considered 'reasonable' in a country this size with 18m population to be 'herded' into 'camps'? It's beyond me!

The campgrounds mentioned (especially at Windjana) are a 'must do' though.

Anne from Drysdale Station replied:

Hello George,
The reason you get as you put it hearded into camps is because the second you set wheel off the road down one of those indistinct tracks just mentioned is because you are then on land someone else is paying money to rent !
They therefore have the right to chose to open it up for tourism or not to do so.
It is private property with full rights by the leasehold to prosecute if you are caught on it. If the land is fenced or not has nothing at all to do with anything.
This may have a blind eye turned to it in the past but the numbers now doing it are huge and half of them are careless with rubbish, fires etc etc. In the past when the numbers where small it wasn't such a problem, with the numbers now doing it is it a problem.
Visitors are in the area 2 minutes and gone, each one thinks they are the only one doing this stuff, they are not thinking of the thousands that in fact do it, we are the ones left to deal with the problems.
Also each person wants to be alone and goes a bit further and a bit further, that indistinct track is in fact a private station track which people have no permission to be on.
The other problem is next thing they are accidently in the midst of muster and stuff it up for the pastoralist. I think people may all think differently about it if
(1) If it was them paying the rent, rates etc
(2) If it was them trying to run a bussiness where everyone thought they had a key to the door.
(3) You may think it is an empty wilderness but it is our backyard and we all run our business on all of it.
I am not having a go at you or any one person personally, just no one seems to stop and think about all this ' free ' camping on another persons lease from the other persons point of view at all !

No one would dream of going into a leased or freehold property anywhere in a more populated area without permission but there is no difference what so ever, and the same tresspass laws do apply.
It is only by the goodwill of the pastoral leaseholder that we mostly chose not to prosecute but be aware this is changing.
A re think of attitude by visitors is required, it is not your ' right ' to go on anothers land regardless if leased or freehold anymore than it is mine to go on to your place.

cheers, Anne
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Monday, May 19, 2008 at 21:24

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 21:24
I agree with some of Anne's comments but not all. My back yard is a couple of hundred square metres. That's not the same as a couple hundred square km's. Firstly though I agree no one should break the law and trespass nor litter nor anything they wouldn't like to be done to them.

However I think most of it is far exaggerated even Anne's comment "numbers now doing it are huge and half of them are careless with rubbish, fires etc etc" If half the travellers did this.... well you get the inference. Stopping people camping in free areas like a couple of hundred metres off a main drag won't stop the rubbish nor fires nor cattle be shot etc. Won't do a damn thing because if no hoper's intending doing the above do you really think stopping them camping will do anything. Might stop some general rubbish but in reality I'd say most are responsible. Like most farmers are responsible, certainly not all.

Until laws change that allow some form of access even to the verges to allow camping like in some countries, it's still illegal. I ask why with all the subsidies available to owners of large tracks of land (tax payer funds) do some feel comfortable that locking up access to millions of hectares is ok. It'll probably never happen and sure there'd be a % of losers stuff things but nothing is ever going to change them. How about letting the bulk of responsible people camp by a creek a short distance off the road.

As for the Gibb River do you really think the rubbish issue will change at all by stopping overnight campers.Yea right.
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Follow Up By: AdlelaideGeorge - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 08:57

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 08:57
I think most of your comments reflect my own thinking.

Of course I wasn't for a second suggesting in my original post that cattle musters should be interfered with or that the Crown leaseholder "paying money to rent" doesn't haven't a bundle of rights that they can (theoretically) enforce.

But Anne's response completely ignores the reality of the situation -a holding of 1/4 million hectares (whatever) is not the same as my 1/4 acre block in a city - I would never drive up the the farmhouse and camp outside their back-door!

However the 'take no prisioners' attitude she expressed sounded as if she was a spokesperson for all leaseholders and doubt if they all have such a simplistic view of the laws of trespass-but I would be very interested to know about any decided WA cases in which campers on Crown lease land adjacent to the road have been successfully prosecuted. It is correct that trespass is actionable per se - no damage has to be done by the trespasser. But in practice nowadays, I can't see a Magistrate actually convicting a person af the civil offence of trespass unless the trespasser was entirely unreasonable - for example not moving on when asked to; lighting a fire or doing some actual damage to fencing etc etc etc. Don't be confused - trespass is not a 'crime' - only 'criminal trespass' is - and that's a very different thing.

Another thing for the leaseholder to consider is how are they going to actually launch the prosecution - most people would be domiciled in another State and the first argument would be about what is the most convenient forum. How do they apprehend a trespasser that doesn't want to be apprehended? - citizens arrest? What degree of force can be used in such a situation? etc etc etc etc - the whole trespass tort is a throwback to days of yore and although technically available I don't know if many lawyers would advise a client to launch a case against bona fide travellers that only camped 'adjacent' to the road overnight and left only footprints.

I think the Crown leaseholders (and I haven't read the actual leases these people hold) would be better off coming to terms with bona fide overnight camping on their leased land adjacent to roads. After all, (unless you still believe in seisin and the tugging of forelocks to land holders 18th century style etc) some different attitudes should prevail now. A lot of people think that the leaseholder holders should have to share at least some of their good fortune in living in such pristine environments and having the right to camp along an unfenced road in the outback doesn't seem too much to ask.

Sorry for the prolixity

Happy days
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 11:22

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 11:22
The right to stop a little off the roadside v the right of the landholder (and bear in mind that although the stations are technically leased from the government, the prices paid for these leases are nearer to the price of freehold land) will always be an emotive issue.

As freehold landowners, we cannot charge anyone with trespass if they enter our property - and sundry have the right to come through our gate and knock on our front door. Some people drive through our gate and into our property, trying to get to a road on the other side of the property - which they cannot do. We have to put up with these 'trespassers'.

We have access to a river on our property, and as such, it is public property to 'high water mark'. We are required to allow the public access through our land to the river, where they have campfires, picnic, swim or boat on the river, and catch marron in season. If they stayed overnight, they would leave no more mess than during a day picnic.

We have not objected to see in the morning that someone has pulled inside the front gate late at night as they had the need to stop and did not want to disturb anyone at the house after the lights were off.

We haven't been to the Kimberley yet (leaving soon), but in other station areas we have occasionally been 'guilty' of stopping on station land (leaving only tyre tracks to know we were there). In these cases, the spot is far from the station buildings, and we are often unsure of which station we are passing through, or how to contact the station. I know in more recent times, some gates will have signage with the station name, and sometimes the UHF channel, but often, particularly in the past, it was impossible to tell which of many tracks lead to a station homestead, unless it was close to and visible from the road. I have been very angry to see left on station land, remnants of a camp fire including tin cans, and a pile of used disposable nappies - that makes me very angry.

I trust that farmer to farmer, no station holder will prosecute us if we stop overnight on their land - we will leave no mess, we will respect their watering points and livestock, and will leave gates open or closed as we find them, although it would be unlikely we would enter through a gate that is not on the through road.



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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 13:25

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 13:25
I should add that feedback from Anne, as a forum member living in the GRR region, is always very welcome. Even though what George has quoted is a couple of years old, Anne is always helpful on the forum with feedback about the area where she is central, whether it be road conditions, or answering a query such as this, which even after two years, is still topical. Thanks Anne - we may even meet you this year


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Reply By: Member - Roger B (VIC) - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 00:48

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 00:48
Have a look in MY PROFILE Vic, and you'll see a good picture of my veh. crossing the Pentecost in 2002, with the spectacular Cockburn Ranges as a backdrop. While we were there, a group on pushbikes rode down the hill from the East, straight into the river, peddling their buts off!! Not real wise. I haven't seen one there, but while camped at Home Valley Stn the young guy there took us fishing on the Pentecost,albeit a fair way from the crossing,but it wasn't real hard to spot a croc. or two in the area.I've heard stories from reliable people of crocs at the crossing. And why wouldn't there be. Enjoy your trip.The Kimberley is a 'Wonderland' Cheers.
Roger B.
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Reply By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 08:44

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 08:44
Despite other messages of Pentecost being easy,,, it required a snorkel in early May 2007 when it was at least 95cm.

One Series 75 got sideways and died due to river height and flow. It was pulled out after dark by a grader camped beside us above the Pentecost.Grader driver reported that he too was stuck but eventually got going

At that time Durack was about 70cm

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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:05

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 09:05

The river level does change. Wait and watch another vehicle cross if you are not sure.
These photos were taken August last year.

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If the water is that deep that you will require a snorkel it would also be flowing very quick, so crossing a deep quick flowing river is not advisable.

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Reply By: Waza & Wend - Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 23:05

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 23:05
Hi Vicmark,

Crossed the Pentacost twice today (17th May) and it was only about 250 deep at most.

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Reply By: wendys - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 17:51

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 17:51
Under NO circumstances walk the Pentecost! It has large crocs.
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