Van on Gibb River Road

Submitted: Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:00
ThreadID: 85275 Views:2750 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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Hi All
Four vehicles are hoping to do the CSR, Tanamai, up to Kununurra, Gibb River Road to Derby then Broome and fish at Beagle Bay.

The question is - we have one couple who have a new 23 foot Traveller caravan with independent off road suspension (but not really an off road van) and they wonder if that van would be capable of being taken on the Gibb River Road.

They were leaving it in Alice Springs and wanted to come off CSR, head back on Tanamai to AS but only if it would be capable of doing GRR. They are towing with a V8 Cruiser ute?

what do you all think.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:27

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:27
Hi Torza

It all depends on the conditions of the day. Capable? - probably. Wise? - probably not.

Adapted from a reply i made a day or two ago on another forum:

While most of the vans we saw on the GRR (2008) were Bushtrackers, it does depend on the road conditions at the time. We went early in the season and graders were working, and the conditions were good. It had been graded when opened, then closed for a few days after July rain and graders were still working. Parts of the road were good for a dirt road and parts average (we are used to dirt roads and corrugations). We took our time, and ran 25 psi cold all round. Come July, with school holidays, droves of "Fritz in Britz" and other travellers driving way too fast, and someone came off it with their Bushtracker and said it was the worst road they had ever been on; only a week or two after we had been through.

My caution would be what would they do if they came to grief with their new caravan? With recovery costs exceeding $10,000 unless breaking down close to Kununurra, and motoring insurance only covering part of this, to me that is the greatest risk. But it is not just your driving to consider; it may of course be the other party that runs you off the road causing damage. We saw a camper that this had happened to on the Purnululu access road. Someone coming too fast the other way ran them off the road and continued on oblivious to the damage they had caused. These people had to be recovered, had their holiday ruined, and no recompense from the person unknown who caused them to go bush to avoid a head on. We came across a few hire vehicles on the GRR travelling too fast, and bouncing all over the road as they tried to gain control as we approached. The road was wide and no collisions with us, but a few anxious moments. We followed a tour coach one day, and he gave a short sharp comment on the two-way to drivers like this.

There was nowhere on the GRR itself where we needed to engage 4wd or needed high clearance. It also depends on how deep the water crossing are, as they are deeper early in the season, and how this will affect the caravan. Ours is high clearance and has a water door, although the only water I would call deep we crossed was the King Edward River on the Mitchell Plateau Road, and that area is a very different scenario. The road to Drysdale River Station and on to Kalumburu was different again. Other long and notorious inland roads were worse than the GRR.

They could be flexible and when getting to Kununurra talking to others who have just done the trip to find out current conditions. My personal choice bearing in mind their caravan would be to take a tent, relax, and enjoy this wonderful part of Australia. It is very easy to do a loop back along the highway and take in Geikie Gorge and a trip into “must-see” Purnululu on this leg (camping is without caravan there anyway). Even if continuing on, it is only a couple of days or so of double up travel on the highway.

You can check out My Blogs here for an outline our GRR trip in 2008.



Red desert dreaming

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:17

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:17
PS: The Tanami would be far more damaging to their van than the GRR.


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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:37

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:37
Hi Torza. If the van in question has off road suspension and is driven carefully then why not give it a go. We have done the GRR twice. In Sept 05 the 300km from Pentecost River west to Mt Barnett was a corrugated mess. Trashed a van tyre and one on the 4by. Last year it was freshly graded and rolled in June heading east from Derby and was a doddle all the way to Home Valley. The last 80km to the tar was a bit rougher but we had been spoiled by how good it was earlier. No punctures. The 28 80 rule paid off - tyres at 28psi and speed under 80.
It all depends on traffic, roadworks, dry season wet spells and the luck of the draw...W.

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Reply By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 09:46

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 09:46
Morning Torza
We towed a Concept AscotXPack fitted with Simplicity Suspension across the GRR in 06, the van was just 6 weeks old at the time. The road conditions were not good, but as always drive to the conditions and you shouldn't have any trouble.
We did bounce the micro wave out of its hidey hole, but that didn't matter because we never use it, it just gave us an extra storage area.
The GRR is an excellent drive, enjoy it.
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:03

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:03
Time frame ? Rush it and you'l break it , going in convoy what are the other 3 towing ? We are all getting too soft in what we deem is an appropriate set up for roads /tracks that were transversed by vehicles a LOT less capable than we have now, Tanami - Gibb were all done long ago in vehicles towing trailers and c/vans that we all today say can't be done when the roads/tracks were real tracks ,not the constantly graded like we have today,
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Follow Up By: Member - Poppy (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 15:05

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 15:05
"Ditto", couldn't agree more, took the words right out of my mouth, my thoughts exactly, we are on the same page etc.etc. lol
Cheers Ray
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Reply By: Mark C - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 23:19

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 23:19
We did the GRR in June 2010 towing Jayco 17'6" with prado. East of Mt Barnett was heavily rutted but OK and west was corrigated in some stretches but not too bad. As said before depends on the luck of the draw but I wouldnt miss it for Quids.


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