Gibb River Road9 minute read
The Gibb River Road is a short-cut that connects the remote Kimberley towns of Derby and Kununurra. In the wet season, December to March, it is impassable. In the dry it is 660km of corrugated hell for the ill-prepared. Even for the well equipped, and as every local will tell you, short-cut does not mean faster. It is the numerous side trips from the Gibb that make this trip. We spent two weeks and loved every minute of it, and we could see why some people spend months exploring along this road.
Beginnings are always a buzz!
Being Perth based, we wanted to maximise our time in the Kimberley so covered the 2,300km to Broome in two days with Gen and I doing two hour shifts at the wheel. We actually love road trips so it was surprisingly effortless, especially with a console brimming with Gen’s amazing home made snacks!
A Cable Beach sunset is a must.
From Broome we headed straight out onto the Gibb and to Windjana Gorge. It was great to be on the dirt and it felt like the beginning of our trip in earnest.
Surprisingly we declined on a swim at Windjana Gorge.
A little parmesan to finish the bolgnaise.
Swinging gates on the long driveway in to Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary is run by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The property used to be a station and the recovery since being managed for the protection of wildlife is impressive. The Fitzroy River flows through Mornington, and Gen was excited to see the river she had heard so much about from my wet season kayaking expedition back in 2013.
A majestic boab tree on the banks of the Fitzroy River at the base of Sir John Gorge.
Termite mounds glowing under a late sun, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary.
Manning Gorge is just off the Gibb and after crossing the creek in the tinny it’s a decent hike in to another stunning waterfall and swimming hole.
What a fun start to the hike in to Manning Gorge!
Our home away from home – plenty of shade was priceless!
Mitchell Falls is a solid trip off the Gibb and up the Kalumburu Road. The road wasn’t too bad for us however it reportedly can get worse at different times in the season. It certainly seemed those travelling lighter were having less troubles.
The scale of Mitchell Falls is impressive and certainly made them a highlight for us. The photo below was taken from the rocks high on the gorge side which is relatively safe and accessible from foot and is an amazing spot to soak it all in!
The hike out passed more waterfalls and a side track not far from camp had an amazing display of indigenous art.
The stunning Mitchell Falls.
Indigenous art trackside on the hike out from Mitchell Falls.
Just up the hill on the Gibb River Road from Home Valley is the below lookout – it’s the perfect spot for sunset drinks!
Sunset over the Pentecost Range at Home Valley.
The Pentecost River.
El Questro was the last stop along the Gibb River Road, and what a property! After grabbing a couple of mud maps we happily explored the sites – hot springs, lookouts, gorges – and we might have even snuck in to the restaurant for a nice meal…
Exploring the tracks of El Questro.
Branco Lookout, El Questro.
Flame grilled chicken and vegetable kebabs.
The amazing view whilst soaking in El Questro’s Zebedee Hot Springs.
How we spent our days: on the Gibb River Road:
Day 1 – Broome to Windjana Gorge
Day 2 – Windjana Gorge to Bell Gorge
Day 3 – Bell Gorge to Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 4 – Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 5 – Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 6 – Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 7 – Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary to Mitchell Falls
Day 8 – Mitchell Falls
Day 9 – Mitchell Falls
Day 10 – Mitchell Falls to Home Valley
Day 11 – Home Valley
Day 12 – Home Valley to El Questro
Day 13 – El Questro
Day 14 – El Questro to Purnululu…
Emma Gorge – what a finale!
The Gibb River Road is an amazing trip, we can see why it’s so popular with international visitors and why it feels like an Australian rite of passage.
Whether you are an experienced tourer or a novice in a hire vehicle it is absolutely a trip we recommend – take two weeks or better yet two months – we bet you’ll love it!
And if you do have plenty of time, continue on from the Gibb River Road and consider heading across to Kakadu and up to Cobourg Peninsula too!