To the Kimberly by standard caravan

Submitted: Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:23
ThreadID: 86291 Views:2926 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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I would like to travel to the Kimberly area, but only have a standard Coromal caravan. Can contributors who have travelled to this area please advise what can be done when taking a non-offroad van. I have no intention of destroying my van and realise that there are many areas that I can not, nor would enjoy taking the van. I assume though that some areas would be suitable with care. I also obviously have the option of parking the van and tenting it.

Perhaps someone has done what I would like to do, and could provide a suggested route, and other input.
Thanks Barry
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Reply By: vk1dx - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:31

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:31
When we went there the Gibb River Road had just been graded so it would have been okay for the van. But only the GRR. The side roads would have shaken it to pieces.

Me! Simply! I would park it and use the tent.

AnswerID: 454320

Reply By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:36

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:36
Hi Barry. It depends on road conditions and how you drive when off the bitumen. I assume that you are talking about the Gibb River Road. Like you I own a Coromal and there is no way that I would tow it over that road. Tenting is a real option. That's how we intend to do it when we go back. Most of the main attractions seem to me to be reasonably close to each end so we will park the van at Derby and Wyndham and spend a few days under canvas as we do the sights.
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Reply By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:50

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:50
barry p1
A couple of years back a friend of ours took his Coromal (525 i think it was) across the GRR, and he had no trouble at all.
As he said, you drive to the conditions and take your time.
That same year we took our standard Concept across the GRR, all be it fitted with simplicity suspension, and again drove to the conditions and didn't have any trouble.
Which ever way you go, enjoy, it's a great area.
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Follow Up By: goddosglory - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 11:40

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 11:40
we left our van at the caravan park at derby..they have a special area for people doing the grr..very safe and too ...make sure you check out the fishing club and the crab races while you are there..doing the gibb river road has so far been the hilight of our time on the road..hope you enjoy it as much as we did
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Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 12:19

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 12:19
Met a guy at Adels Grove at Lawn Hill NP. He was telling me how well his van had handled the unsealed road travelling up from Mt. Isa via Thorntonia Road and through Riversleigh. Next morning when towing the van off his site a spring broke. He was lucky. Adels Grove have a good mechanic and there are regular flights in from Mt. Isa. He was only held up for 3 days.
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Follow Up By: Graham & Ann - Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 15:01

Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 15:01
Assuming that you have towed on dirt road before I can only agree with Baz&Pud, drive to conditions and you should have no problems. As far as I'm aware the standard Coromal is built the same as off road model, just sits lower and no cutaway. We did this trip in 2005, took van into ElQuestro, up past Drysdale Stn to King Edward Camp ground on our way to Mitchell falls and up to Kalumburu etc. these roads are just dirt roads, can be rough if not graded, so you just slow down and take it easy. If your not used to towing on dirt roads then get a bit of experience before you attempt this one, it's not a trip for first time dirt road towing.
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Reply By: wendys - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 17:48

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 17:48
Strongly recommend you store van and tent. This will allow you to access so much more - it can be really frustrating otherwise, to be so near and yet so far, from some parts.
You can do a good circuit after storing van at Kununurra (we have used Kimberleyland CP). e.g. go into Bungles, then on through Halls Creek to Fitzroy Crossing. Take the track past Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge to the Gibb River Rd. From that end you can access Bell Gorge. Mornington is well worth a visit. Then maybe Charnley River HS (if open). Mt Barnett and Manning Falls. Then up the Kalumburu road to there/McGowans or Honeymoon. Backtrack and head for Mitchell Plateau. Then back to the Gibb and Home Valley, El Questro and back to Kununurra.
If you take your van you are really limited to just the Gibb. Remember that, in most years, there is a water crossing to get into ElQ and also the Pentecost River crossing on the Gibb - do you want to risk the bottom of your van getting wet?
AnswerID: 454379

Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 22:48

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 22:48
Hi Barry

All good advice from wendys.

While conditions may vary and sometimes the road is good, like just after grading on opening and before the crazy tourists corrugate it again, but in reality parts will always be bad even while the graders are working.

This site is jut not working well for me, so I cannot find a recent post where I gave similar advice to hereunder, as did others.

Assess it after talking to others who have just come in from it when you get to Derby or Kununurra. We met a man at a garage in Derby with broken shockies on his 4wd. He’d left wife and tent somewhere in the middle and limped into Derby for repairs. Bear in mind some will say as smooth as a baby’s and others will say worst road ever, but listen to them all and sort the wheat from the chaff. Come July the droves of tourists, many in hire vehicle driving much to fast and endangering other road users, make the road corrugated very quickly.

Have a plan B. Be prepared to go tenting and enjoy this wonderful place for two or three weeks or so, taking in the Mitchell Plateau and Kalumburu. We took three and a half weeks from Derby to Kununurra. Doing a loop back via the bitumen only takes two or three days, but does give you the opportunity to spent two or three days at the must-see Purnululu where you can’t take your caravan anyway.Geikie Gorge at Fitzroy Crossing is very different to the other gorges and worth taking the DEC boat to see the gorge – very good value. Then you have the choice of leaving your van at Kununurra or Derby.

If you take your caravan and have a breakdown, be prepared to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 to be recovered. Is it worth the risk? Even if all goes well, every corrugation is doing damage which will show up eventually – maybe while you are somewhere else remote.

Read a little about our wonderful three and a half weeks touring the best part of Australia in the travelogues for 2008 at Travelogues Australia So Much to See. You can contact me further if you want any more detail.

My personal advice is not to risk your caravan; camp out, and get into all the nooks and crannies while camping out.


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Follow Up By: Member - Min (NSW) - Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 15:47

Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 15:47
Very well said, Motherhen.

I have not travelled the Gibb since 2001 so I guess things have changed because we travelled in an XTrail with an on-road ct and did not see another setup similar to ours. We managed and did most of the side trips including Mitchell (left the trailer at King Ed River), Bell Gorge and Mornington. To do it in an on-road van would be foolish - it is a long way. The side trips can be particularly corrugated or just plain rocky and potholed.

From ten years experience we now know that our ct is just as capable as many off-roaders (and now we have a robust 4x4 tow vehicle) but an on-road van is a different matter.

I saw a caravan pull in to Laura - he was heading to Weipa - and all his cupboards and inside fittings were falling apart. He drilled and hammered them all night and set off the next day. We were heading to Cooktown. In Cooktown we heard about this same fellow pulling in with his shattered van a day after us. He must have turned around almost immediately.

People say it will be okay if you drive to the conditions but sometimes conditions cannot be travelled without damage. It's all a matter of judgement and, as Motherhen said, watch who is coming off, talk to them and aski them if they encountered any set-ups like yours.

But one way or the other, see the Kimberley.


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