The Kimberley's

I am planning a trip to the Kimberley next year (May-June) and am thinking of going across the Gibb River road towing a 19ft Lotus caravan with simplicity suspension. Tug is a 3ltr patrol. Hope to take our blue heeler cattle dog with us. Am interested in your comments re the Gibb River road, the possibility of taking the caravan across the Gibb River road and also taking the dog.
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Reply By: glenok - Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 16:29

Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 16:29
Hi Redsox

I did gibb last week.While a lot of it was really smooth, alot was not. I would seriously think about not towing a van. And as for the dog, Leave it home. Saw a lady with 2 dogs and had to leave them in the car while she went to look at a gorge (Galvins I think) It was 35 degrees.Just my opinion. I have been up and down the gibb a few times and it can get very corrogated. Ive never towed a van up there but did see a couple "off roaders". Others may have different opinions.
AnswerID: 463074

Reply By: gjcumming - Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 16:42

Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 16:42
Hello Redsox.

Whats the chances the GRR is open in May? Normally opens up in June in the last few years does it not?

I know a 17' tandem Jayco Expanda Pop Top was towed across the GRR this year with due care. Search "Gibb River Road June 2011" in Youtube.

Did it myself towing a little 12' Expanda in July 08 with no more than very minor issues.

Regards: Grant
AnswerID: 463076

Reply By: obee1212 - Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 17:00

Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 17:00
I went down the grr twice once in a two wheel drive and once in a hilux 4wd. Many years between but same rough and rocky trip. They grade the road for the cattle trucks but I doubt more than once a year.

plenty of caravans do the trip. The pentacost river was the dodgiest looking but despite bouncing around a lot, it is easy. The stones on the road are very sharp. Lady at the station where we camped said be careful cos the graders jumble them pointy side up.

We stopped once to see if we could help a bloke who shredded a tyre and he was not happy. He thought it the worst road ever and a disgrace but thats how it is in the bush. His mobile home dumped the contents on the floor but I dont know how it was set up inside (bought it import from Japan) or what precautions he had taken. Or how he had driven. A tendency to panic could get some to drive too hard in effort to get it over with.

Two schools of opinion. Let tyres down as in the theory of hard balloons puncture easy. Pump tyres up hard so the side walls dont present a soft target for the stones. I favour the latter because balloons are not tyres.

My advice; conditions vary so get as much local advice re road state from locals and better, people at your caravan park who have recently done the trip. Dont punish the setup by hard driving. Think about how well you are set up to repair flat tyres. Have a two way turned on. And all the other things that you should have sussed out by now.

Dont cry too much if you lose one of those expensive brandname tyres. How many can you afford.

Otherwise it's a good jouney.

good luck

AnswerID: 463078

Reply By: B1B2 - Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 17:15

Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 17:15
G'day Redsox,
We towed the offroad van along GRR last year in July, it was muddy in places and as soon as we got through, they had heavy rain and the road was closed for a week.
We took the dog, freecamped in one nice spot by a creek. We also stayed at Ellenbrae which is ok with dogs. You will just need to be content with not going into the major tourist gorges. We were doing a complete loop from Melbourne, Alice, Gary Juction Rd, Marble Bar etc so leaving the dog for 3 months in a kennel was not on the agenda.

AnswerID: 463079

Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 22:47

Saturday, Aug 20, 2011 at 22:47
Hi Redsox

Travelling with a dog will certainly limit where you can go. Some station stays allow dogs - but do ask ahead of time. At Drysdale River Station (off the Gibb but on the way to the Mitchell Plateau) they allow dogs only at the unserviced campground of Miners Pool but not at the homestead serviced campground. You can't take a dog to the Mitchell Plateau. National Parks campgrounds are out, but you could stop at the Lennard River Bridge and do day trips to places such as Windjana Gorge and Bells Falls if leaving the dog in the van is OK. People we met travelling through with dogs knew they were missing out on a lot but would come back another time without them to see the things they missed. They took a flight from Drysdale over Mitchell Falls. If you don't take your dog, you can leave a caravan at Drysdale River station for a few days while going on to Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu.

As the conditions do vary, my suggestion is to see when you get to either Kununurra or Derby, depending on direction of travel and ask others coming of the GRR, but be prepared for a variety of answers from smooth as a baby's to worst road I've ever been on. Then assess from first hand reports and decide if it would be OK for you at the time, but have Plan B: It is not difficult to do a loop tent camping (many do), returning via the highway and taking in Geikie Gorge at Fitzroy Crossing and the must-see Purnululu (no caravans there anyway so you need to take a tent or alternative camping). Bear in mind that early in the season some of the water crossings may be deep enough to give a standard caravan a good dunking. Just about all the caravans we saw on the GRR were Bushtrackers. If you do have a breakdown mid way and need to be recovered, you could be paying between $10,000 and $20,000 to be recovered. Something to weigh up in the risks. Although the road is not long and arduous, every corrugation will do damage which will eventually show, even if not at the time.

See my blogs from June 2008 for what a summary of our tour.



Red desert dreaming

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AnswerID: 463109

Reply By: Kris and Kev - Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011 at 19:32

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011 at 19:32
I personally would not tow a caravan along the Gibb. We have just returned home after doing the Kimberley. We did the clock wise direction, sealed highway from Kununurra to Broome and returned via the Gibb River Road. (That way all of the roads were open by the time we got to them.) We left Rockhampton, Qld, on 3 June and got back on 19 August. 15,500 k’s in total. Although the Gibb River Road is only about 640 k’s long, we ended up doing just over 3,000 in 4 weeks. This is due to the fact that there are so many places to see off the Gibb. And you really need to do them all. We towed our off road camper trailer and only saw two caravans on the Gibb River Road prior to the El Questro intersection. Both were travelling very, very slowly. There were caravans of all types from El Questro to Kununurra and again, they were travelling slowly. (It would have been helpful on the corrugations if they could have pulled over to let others past!) We loved the Gibb River Road and did not find it too bad. It is another story for the Gibb River-Kalumburu Road that goes to the Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu. Boy, were they bad! Vehicle/trailer damage wise on the Gibb we were happy with only two blown tyres, one broken UHF aerial and screws fell out of our brand new Lightforce Genesis lights! So we did well. Mind you I am not happy with the Lightforce Genesis lights falling apart and in how Lightforce have responded to my calls, but that is another story. But we did have the most fantastic trip and could easily go back!
AnswerID: 463369

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