Kimberley Day 86 - Gibb River Road

Friday, Oct 16, 1998 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Today we started the Gibb River Road trek. This trek is much talked about for its notoriously bad road conditions however I had phoned the road information freecall number and heard that the graders had been improving the road for the last few days. Sure enough, we passed the graders in the first hour but they had smoothed the road all the way to Jack's Waterhole. Graders still cannot cut out corrugations but at least they can soften the track a little. Our original plan was to make it to the Jack's Waterhole for our first night's camp however with the road conditions better than expected we arrived there at lunch time. We pushed on to the Durack River where we were planning to camp in the dry river bed but at 2pm the rain came down and we didn't even think we'd make it that far. The Gibb River Road is composed of blue metal and sharp rock and even though the rain was torrential we were surprised to find it did not soften the road significantly. Typical of what we'd seen in the tropics the storm was isolated and the Durack River had not received the rains we'd just driven through.

The crossing itself was dry but we drove along the river bed to set up our camp a little further off the road. We were surprised to find another camper already set up and also to hear a bit of traffic passing the crossing. We spoke to our neighbour and learned that it had rained a little here before we'd arrived but we could see no evidence of dampness. Even the wood was dry enough to prepare a good fire to cook a camp oven roast lamb.

About an hour before the roast was ready we sat down to watch a spectacular lightening display not far away. It came closer quite suddenly and we packed up our camp prepared to get out of the river in case it flooded. The rain put out our fire but we buried the camp oven to keep it cooking and dug it out once the storm had passed. It was our best tasting roast yet - and beautifully tender. Our neighbour was concerned about the rising water levels and shifted camp to the high side of the crossing about 10m above the river bed but we stayed where we were for the night.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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