Gibb River Road

I am thinking of doing this trip next year and am confused about whether or no to take a my Jayco camper or leave it in storage at Kunnanarra.Some sites say it is not difficult if you travel slowly and are careful.The main problem seems to be clearance. I have a X Trail 4 by 4 and am wondering whether a standard (not Offroad) campertrailer will do the job. According to Information Centre at Kun many people now do the journey in conventional cars towing campers and caravans. First time on this site so thanks everyone. Can anyone advise me? john and sue
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:14

Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:14
Hi John and Sue,

Welcome to the site, hope to see you on here lots more.

Re the GRR - this road has improved a lot in recent years and it is now a formed graded road. But it can still deteriorate with the amount of traffic that it gets in the tourist season. When the grader has just been through it can be excellent, but if its been a while since the grader it can be pretty rough. In 08 (see our blogs) when we last went there it was very good except for one section just west of the Kalumbaru T/O.

I suggest you would be OK provided that you let your tyres down a bit to reduce damage to vehicle and track, and you also kept your speed down. Also you could check with police, tourist centre, other travellers etc before you depart Kalumbaru and make a final decision then.

Finally we have foundthis site to be very informative, if you have not come across it already.

Have a great trip,

Cheers,

Val
J and V
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Reply By: Crackles - Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:18

Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:18
Johno you will get conflicting answers on this (from me included) simply as the road conditions change. No longer is it the horror road it was back in the 80's as it's far better maintained but after rain & heavy traffic it does deteriorate. Taking a soft roader & a road going camper is testing the limits but if you pack light & travel slowly it is possible. Personally I wouldn't take either on that type of road. They not only lack with the ground clearance but fording depth, dust intrusion, stone protection & general strength. I ran a Subaru offroad for several years & while I could pretty much take it everywhere it was certainly knocked around in the end.
As a footnote a mate was saying how difficult the Gibb river rd was a few years back while showing me his photograghs. I said if it was that difficult what was that Holden Commodore doing there in the background :-))
Cheers Craig..........
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:34

Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:34
Hi John and Sue

A wonderful trip. We took three and a half weeks on the GRR including going to Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau, in June 2008. The majority of caravans we saw were Bushtrackers, and the camper trailers were off road versions. My trip notes are in the My Blog section.

If you go early in the season, the roads are generally better, but the water crossings deeper. As an example, when we crossed the King Edward River on the way to the Mitchell Plateau the first time, we got some water in our generator box on the a-frame. Our caravan is high clearance. The water wasn't all that deep, but the rock and roll movement from the uneven rocky base caused dipping down deeper.

My advice would be to leave your trailer, take a tent and enjoy the trip. Doing a full lap one way GRR and the other way the Highway takes in places such as Geikie Gorge at Fitzroy Crossing and the must-see Purnululu. Include Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge in your itinerary too. Bear in mind that should you have a breakage and need recovering, the cost can be extremely high.

I think your X Trail would take you through without problems.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:55

Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:55
Hmm, I think you would have to watch the fording depth at El Questro, Pentecost Rover, and certainly the King Edward would be a No . That deep hole at the end of the crossing would get you I feel.

I have seen a 70s conventional van at Kalumburu but then they are not worth much. The main danger on the corrugations would be that your van would disintegrate inside, when the glue on the MDF gives way.

In my 2 weeks on the GRR and Kalumburu roads I didn't see a single car except for a "local's"Commodore and an old merc compact at Home Valley. the Commodore was parked on the Kunnunurra side of the ford.

In fact I cannot recall seeing many soft roaders, although I saw a Subaru at El Questro and he decided not to try the ford to El Questro Gorge.

The biggest issue with the on road bit would be that the tyres could fail as the GRR is hard on tyres. I recall seeing a new 200 Cruiser get 100metres on to the GRR and getting a flat.
Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 415003

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:58

Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 17:58
Clearance should not be an issue at all - wasn't for my 2 trips along the full length, in the last 4 years - it's all about the nature of the surface - it varies from very smooth to very stony, and the stones can play havoc with passenger class tyres - taken easy with light truck tyres, it should be a nice drive.
There is a couple of pics of typical Gibb surfaces on the Roads page at my site.... may be of interest. [ Darian's Road pics ]
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Reply By: Drysdale River Station - Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 04:18

Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 04:18
Hi John & Sue,

Read these two sites.
http://www.drysdaleriver.com.au
Our site has an explanation regarding road work.

http://www.gibbriverroad.net/
Great site about the whole North Kimberley.

Then remember what others have said is totally correct . The condition of the Gibb River & Kalumburu Roads changes hugely several times during the dry season.
All depends on the graders & traffic. Grading has no set time frame and no one can tell you in advance.

A huge amount of work has been done on the Gibb RR in the last 2 years so it is better than it was.
The King Edward River crossing ( the hole) on the Mitchell plateau track was fixed last dry season. The improved crossing survived this wet season but it is still just rocks, same as is the Pentecost River crossing on the GR road.

My son came out several years back in a normal car towing a normal trailer without any damage, BUT 6 weeks later he did the return trip and did over $1000 worth of damage. Not including tyres.

Is it worth the risk, that is up to you.

Pretty fair chance you may do damage with your light set up.
cheers, Anne







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