Gibb River Road 3rd and last time.

We have just finished a trip along the Gibb River Road. It was our third and last time for that trip. It gave us the impression that it has turned into a circus out there. Seems to have lost it's mystique. Wall to wall people with tents. campers and off road RV's big ones. Tour buses galore. Not a quiet camping experience at all these days. Admittedly the late opening of many of the gorges and the Mitchell Plateau that unfortunately caught up with the school holidays made it a very busy time out there. We cut our proposed 3+ week trip along the GRR to just two weeks. The gorges in all fairness are still fantastic to visit and one of our favourite place in this great country MITCHELL FALLS is still an awesome place to visit and spend time. However the volume of people on the road is out of control. I know everyone has the right to visit the area and should at some time but it is very noticeable that the area can't cope with the masses. The infracstructure is just not in place.
Windjana Gorge camp groung was packed to the rafters is an understatement and very noisy till all hours of the early morning. A can someone tell me where have all the Freshwater Crocodiles gone? The last time were were there 5 yrs ago there were heaps there. We struggled to count 20 along the walk of the gorge. Too many people have frightened them away I'm sure.
Next stop Mt Hart, now that was a good stay, quieter than the rest and the DEC are doing a great job after taking over from the previous people which I'm sure are being missed. The swimming hole there at Mt Matthew we actually managed to have it to ourselves for a few hours.
Silent Grove was next. Campers were tightly squeezed in there as well all sharing 4 ladies and 4 mens showers. Cold most of the time. Bell Gorge as beautiful as it was this year with the mass of water there it just didn't seem the same this time. Sitting at the bottom of the falls at one time we looked up to the top of the falls vieewing area and without a word of a lie there must have been 80 people standing there. Bus loads for sure.
Next stop was at Mt Barnett's Manning Gorge Campground. What has happened there? It is rundown, filthy, no hot water and the camping area is worse tahn I've seen in slums of third world countries. Unfortunately the manning Gorge is well worth walking the hard 3km to so we had to stay there. Never would I recommend a stay there to anyone again, That camp ground IS the PITTS.
Mt Elizabeth was next, it was quiet the first night and the camping area is good. Hot showers are available for most of the day. The second night I couldn't belive my eyes. Sitting out enjoying the beautiful evening when we spotted some lights going up a tree in nearby. Yep some idiiot climbed thw tree to beak off

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Reply By: Curlynan - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 15:56

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 15:56
a branch to burn on the fire they had going. There are truly some idots out there. Then we went to Mitchell Falls campground. Talk about rent a spot. Pack to the rafters. We have been there twice before and would have been lucky to be 20 lots of other campers there at the same time. It's all about the hellicopter flights there and the new Eco campground and Tour bus areas. Didn't see a ranger there one in the 3 nights we stayed. Mitchell Falls had us in awe as per usual. We managed about an hour on the ledge opposite which we feel was a miracle.
Then there his Home valley Station. Great camp grounds but whos' idea was it to put the MacDonalds playground rught in the middle of the Camp ground. Great for families but if you are after a quiet camp expereince.Home Valley is NOT the place to go.
This year was the first time we have stayed at Ql Questro and we are now asking why we didn't do it sooner. A little crwded in the camp ground but getting use to that situation. The $18 park pass for 7 days is great value. 2 fantastic lookouts to visit. Some great walks especiall E Q Gorge. and Zebidee Springs was crowded but good all the same. Good entertainment there if you want it at the bar as well.
I'm glad we have doe the GRR in quieter times as it has reall turned into a Circus out there.
AnswerID: 460010

Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 16:28

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 16:28
Hello Curlynan
You sound about the same vintage as us.
You travelled all this country in earlier times and that is what you compare with.
Sadly those times are not coming back.
I ask myself, what the present dayers are going to think in thirty or forty years.
I used to stop with Claire Best at her pineapple plantation called Noonamah, and that is all that there was then --- a pineapple plantation with wild roaming buffalo.
We used go down to Berry Springs for a swim, a bush track with a paradise like waterhole at the end.
There is a resort ther now
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Zebra400 - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 17:59

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 17:59
Hi Curlynan

Sorry to hear about your busy trip. We are back in cold chilly Melbourne after a 6 week trip to the Kimberley in June, getting back home in early July.

We planned our trip to avoid being up there in July. With NT on school holidays from late June to late July, we wanted to avoid the influx of travellers. We think we got it right as we found most places were not too busy. Silent Grove was the busiest but was not full and nearly everyone was in bed by 9pm each night.

Mitchell Falls was starting to get busy when we left - the groups of tag alongs were the big problem. One group from Broome came in and wanted to take over 2 large camping areas, saying that the Ranger normally reserves these spots for them. We told them to clear off and camp down in the groups area, which they did.

I agree with you too about the Rangers. We only ever saw the Ranger at Silent Grove who was very helpful - we never saw a Ranger at Mitchell Falls, while the Ranger at Windjana just did a lap of the camp ground at 5pm without stopping & then disappeared for the night. The Camp Hosts at most of the campgrounds did a good job, but sounds like they might have gone home by the time you got there.

Also agree with the Home Valley camp ground. We were inundated with 10 screaming kids at the playground for most of the late afternoon. We wont be going back there to camp.

Have you posted any of your trip pics yet? It would be good to see them. You can view ours at our websiteat

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Follow Up By: Member - Rowdy6032 (WA) - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 19:43

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 19:43

We were in the Kimberley last year and were also put off by the crowds.

However, we did enjoy Home Valley. We would suggest people stay at the Pentecost River Bush Camp which is 4kms past the homestead and childrens playground :-)

The sunsets over the Cockburn Ranges were fantastic and the tidal rises along the river were something to see.

This time of year though it may be just as busy as everywhere else.
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Follow Up By: Zebra400 - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 19:50

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 19:50

We looked at the bush camp and found there was too many people down there and not much shade for us - all the good spots taken, so we headed back to the camp ground.

One fascinating thing I did find was that I had mobile phone (Telstra) coverage at Home Valley. I checked my Tesltra towers file & found that I was receiving a signal from Kununurra, 100 kms to the east. I had no coverage on the Gibb River Road and didnt get another signal until I was about 15kms out of Kununurra. It must be one of those quirky line of site things for Home Valley.


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Reply By: SIF4X4 - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 18:52

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 18:52
Ahhh yes, the masses!!!!

Spent a delightful 3 weeks in the Kimberley in July of 1986. I cherish those memories as we encountered few out there. Visitors drove out as we drove in to Mitchell Falls and we had the place to ourselves. The same at Pago Pago, Napier Broome Bay, King George Falls and the rest. I do recall two other camps at Windjana Gorge

Them were the days :-)
AnswerID: 460028

Reply By: kidsandall - Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 20:59

Friday, Jul 15, 2011 at 20:59
It is school holidays so I would expect it to be flat out at the moment. When we went we had most of the gorges to ourselves, just enough people around to be safe. We saw about half a dozen cars on the gibb. Probably 5 or 6 people camped at Windjana, very peaceful. Spent 4 hrs at Bell gorge all by ourselves except for the last 10 mins.
We stayed an extra couple of nights at Manning gorge cause we loved it so much. Walked to the falls and only saw one other couple. A tour bus came in one night and was gone the next day. Small amount of noise from them talking but was ok as we did the same.
We camped at home valley and it was amazing. We loved the set up and our girls loved the playground. There is a second campsite a bit further a way from the main site for more privacy.
Your complaining about the number of tour buses up there. When we did it some people complained about how rough the road was (actually was in great condition). Problem is if you make the road good the tour buses will go there. If it isn't maintained nicely people complain it's to rough and the greenies try to shut it down cause we damage it. Can't win either way.
Those tour buses have just as much right to be there as anyone else. I don't always agree with their standards or the way they treat the enviroment. I think doing one of those tours would be a waste as you would miss so much.
No where we went on our trip was as remote and rugged as we thought it would be but still well worth the effort. I would never go anywhere near a place like the Gibb, kimberlies or cape york any time near holidays, that's when the idiots come out to play.
I guess it that was your last trip up the Gibb then there is now one more camping spot for someone else lol.

AnswerID: 460042

Reply By: Bigfish - Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 08:56

Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 08:56
Its called progress!!!!!!!!!!!!
And what a horrible thing it can be. The biggest problem I see is letting the ignorant city folk out into the bush to run rampant. Not all folk fit this description. The advent of cheaper 4wd,s, cheap camping equipment, higher disposable income, better communications and roads getting used more means that Oz is dramatically shrinking. Rip, tear seems to be the fashion amongst many travellers. If people slowed down and RESPECTED the nature and property they see and pass through then the outback would still be a wonderfull place to explore. Its what you put in that you take out. High volume tourism is here to stay. However it should be mandatory for everyone to only leave footprints and once again RESPECT the environment. Everyone has a right to share the world we live in, those that abuse the environment around them should stay at home. Infacstructure ,as stated , is also an issue. Education about peoples rights, respect and environmental awareness should be mandatory school lessons.
Rant over. cheers
AnswerID: 460059

Follow Up By: bert546 - Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 21:46

Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 21:46
yeh leave your footprints a cigarette butt and an exploroz sticker
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 18:49

Saturday, Jul 16, 2011 at 18:49
I just paddled with 9 friends for 10 days in the Whitsundays.
We had to book ahead and therefore only those who booked were allowed.... met a few people, but nicely controlled. Sounds like the GRR need the same treatment?
AnswerID: 460106

Follow Up By: Bigfish - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 09:42

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 09:42
Thats half the problem...controlled. When you get away on an outback adventure you dont really want a controlled environment. Rules and regulations need to be observed BUT we still enjoy the freedom we expect. Fools and Morons running rampant will lose this freedom for all. At least you know if you do the right thing then you have peace of mind and maybe, just maybe, people will follow your example.
FollowupID: 733775

Follow Up By: Member - Royce- Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 11:48

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 11:48
Nup... the problem is population.

Most people aren't fools or morons... but if you get enough in one area then they rise to the top.

My first trips around oz involved stopping wherever we liked and digging a pit for the campfire. No fences, just cattle grids. Sometimes we met other travellers, but now.... it does need regulation. I'm so sad to say that, because I agree with Bigfish.. I don't want to be controlled. We can't turn back the clock and it's only going to get worse.

The nicest spot I can find is in my back paddock to be honest!!
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Reply By: Curlynan - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 18:12

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 18:12
Thanks for reading this post everyone. I enjoyed reading your replies & Follow-Ups.
We are now in Broome for the next 5-6 weeks. Now I know that many people don't like Broome especially this time of year. We did the right thing and made a booking ages ago into the Caravan Park we like, so we didn't have the hassel of trying to get in anywhere when we arrived. As we love the beach & sand & sun we don't mind Broome.
We just finished our first stay (6 nights) at Barn Hill Stn and must admit we thought it was a great place. Again very crowded but with travellers not TOURISTS, there is a difference and surprisingly very very quiet after 9pm when the generators went off (ours included some days...Ha Ha) The beach there is great as well. May stay there again on our way down the west coast when we leave Broome.
Happy Travels everyone.

AnswerID: 460216

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