Western Australia - The Kimberley - The Gibb River Rd September 15, 2008 5:03 AM
Travelling The Gibb River RoadA Kimberley Adventure Trip From Derby To Kununurra
The legendary Gibb River Road, a 660 km dirt track right through the wild heart of the Kimberley, is one of the Kimberley's main attractions.
"The Gibb" takes you from Broome/Derby on the west coast to Kununurra/Wyndham on WA's eastern border...
...through a spectacular landscape of intensely coloured ranges, dramatic gorges and lush rock pools and waterfalls, everything the Kimberley is famous for.
There is absolutely nothing to be nervous about.
Your Gibb River Road trip can be an adventure, if that's what you want it to be. Or it can be an enjoyable and relaxing scenic drive. (Well, except for the corrugated parts...)
Anybody can drive the Gibb River Road. You need no special skills and experience at all.
Below you find a list of articles with more information. They tell you more about the road conditions, the distances, attractions, accommodation, the possible detours, the real adventures along the way...
You can also browse through questions (plus answers) from other readers.
[ send green star]
Western Australia - The Kimberley - The Gibb River Rd - 2 September 15, 2008 5:05 AM
Driving The Gibb - Plan Your Trip
The Road Conditions
Really, you don't need any 4WDing experience...
What You Need To Know
I said above that this drive is by no means the risky adventure it used to be. However, it still requires some travel planning and equipment. Also, a good measure of common sense never hurts...
Gibb River Rd Route Description
This gives you the kilometres from/to all the turn offs, side tracks, attractions, accommodations, supply points etc.
Accommodation on the Gibb Road
All the places where you can buy a cooked meal, have a hot shower and sleep in a real bed!
The gorges and waterfalls are the main attractions and the reason for travel along the Gibb River Road. Here they are, with photos, descriptions, and comments (which should always be taken with a grain of salt...).
Gibb River Road Australia Pictures
If you just want to look at photos, here is a bunch of big ones.
-Driving the Gibb: Broome to Wyndham and Kununurra to Broome
-Reader video: Darwin to Broome via Gibb River Rd.
With thanks to Birgit:
[ send green star]
The Kimberley Gorges September 15, 2008 5:16 AM
You can access the pictorial and descriptive data via the links in the above posting (esp Pt 2). Additionally:
Kimberley GorgesMost famous Kimberley gorges/> can be found along the Gibb River Road.
Actually, the gorges and waterfalls are the main reason why travellers are happy to endure the Gibb River Road: 660 km of dust, sharp rocks and corrugations of legendary proportions... (For information on the track itself see the main Gibb River Road page.)
On this page I tell you a bit more about those Kimberley gorges and show you what you can look forward to.
Just keep one thing in mind as you look at the pictures: once the wet season is finished the water disappears quickly.
To see the waterfalls in all their glory you have to get here early in the season. However, the pools at the bottom of the falls remain, even if the falls dry up to just a dribble. Kimberley gorges are great for swimming at any time.
Barnett River Gorges
There are of course more Kimberley gorges. Many of the cattle stations along the Gibb River Road have gorges that you can only access if you stay at their accommodation, or take part in one of their tours. Other gorges are far off the beaten track and take a bit more time, experience and equipment to get to.
But all the gorges below are open to the public, and easy to access from the Gibb River Road.
[ send green star]
The Kimberley Gorges 2 September 15, 2008 5:32 AM
Kimberley Gorges On The Gibb River RoadLennard Gorge is one of the little known and less visited Kimberley gorges. The 8 km long access road is strictly four wheel drive only and will take you to a parking bay. You used to be able to drive a bit further, but the road is now so rough that you are better off walking the last bit.
Once you get to the end of the track the walk gets rather challenging. There is no marked path, you have to find your own way (this might get easier later in the season). If you head towards the right you will eventually get to a ledge overlooking the gorge and the falls (very dramatic views).
If you stick more to the left you can get to the top of the falls where it is possible to access the water for a swim.
Either way, you sure need to bring some time.
Lennard Gorge is one of the few places where free bush camping is possible. It's not officially allowed, but you can get away with it.
Bell Gorge is the most famous Kimberley gorge. It is also supposed to be the most beautiful, and most people agree with that assessment. (I don't, there are too many beautiful gorges in the Kimberleys.)
Bell Gorge is about 30 km off the Gibb River Road, on a 4WD only track. A short walk along the pretty Bell Creek leads from the car park down to the gorge. It's easy until you get to the last bit, where you first have to cross the creek on slippery rocks, and then scramble down the steep rock wall leading to the water edge.
Once you get there everything is just perfect.
The waterfalls are cascading down the perfectly U-shaped cliffs, into a deep pool perfect for swimming, with large flat rocks along the side, perfect to sit down, sun bathe, have a picnic or whatever else you can think of.
No wonder Bell Gorge is so popular.
There are two campgrounds here. You will enter the first one, Silent Grove, after 19 km. It's a pretty standard campground with all the usual facilities.
But the real popular sites are the ten individual bush camping sites along the Bell Creek, 11 km further on. And it's not easy to get one of them. This is how the reservation system works:
At Silent Grove entrance you find a board with 10 tags, one tag for each site. The ranger puts them there at 7am each day.
The only way to get a site is to be there early and grab one of the tags. First come, first served. We got there at about nine o'clock and of course all the tags were gone...
(The photo was taken at 8am next morning. One tag left...)
However, there are always some people who grab a tag in the morning and then decide to move on to the next Kimberley gorge. I got talking to one such person while swimming at Bell Gorge, and he gave us his tag. You could be lucky, too...
The ranger collects the tags again in the afternoon, together with your camping fee. The fee is the same as at Silent Grove: $10 per person as of 2008.
Adcock Gorge is about 5 km off the Gibb River Road, along a very rocky 4WD track. The walk is very short and takes you along and across a shady lily pond. You also have to climb over a few boulders.
When you get there you find a beautiful deep green pool with a small waterfall, ferns and grassy edges. There shouldn't be too many other people here. In fact, we didn't see any.
I imagine Adcock Gorge would be particularly beautiful in the afternoon (we were there in the morning), when the sun lights up the red rocks surrounding it.
Unfortunately camping is most definitely not allowed any more at this Kimberley gorge.
[ send green star]
The Kimberley Gorges 3 conclusion September 15, 2008 5:33 AM
To get to Galvans Gorge you leave your vehicle in the car park right at the side of the main road and walk the last kilometre or so. It's the most easily accessible gorge on the Gibb River Road, so it's always busy.
This is one of the smaller Kimberley Gorges, similar in size to Adcock Gorge, but the pool is more than big and deep enough to swim a few laps.
There is also a rope in one of the trees to swing on and jump and the falls are big enough to sit on the rocks underneath and get a back massage.
All in all Galavans Gorge is very pleasant spot.
Obviously no camping here either...
For me Manning Gorge was one of the most memorable Kimberley gorges, for several reasons (that might not apply to you).
We were there early in the season and the falls were still flowing strong, cascading over the full width of the rocks.
It was late in the afternoon. While that had a disastrous effect on the photos I took (directly into the sun was the only option) it also meant we had the whole gorge to ourselves.
I love bush walking and thought the walk there was great. (I've heard others complain about the long, hot walk...).
To get to Manning Gorge you first have to pay a steep $12.50 (as of 2006) at the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse. Since that fee includes the use of their camping facilities you may as well spend a night there.
(I certainly didn't regret paying the fee, it was well worth it. It just annoyed me that someone would charge you to get access to a Kimberley gorge...)
The campground is ok. It's huge so there is plenty of room. Unfortunately there is no separate generator area. You have to put up with the noise, like it or not.
The walk to this Kimberley gorge starts from the campground, and you are given two options. You can swim across the pool and float your stuff across. Or you walk around, criss-crossing the deep creek several times, of course on slippery rocks, treacherous logs, mud etc. Good fun watching others do it...
After that the walk is fairly easy, though open and sunny. But the scenery is beautiful and as I already said, I really enjoyed it.
The gorge itself is huge. It has several pools to swim through and rocks to climb up and over. You can also get to the top of the waterfall (still no good for pictures in the late afternoon...).
There are several different spots to choose from to spread out your towel and picnic hamper, so it should still be ok even if you are not totally by yourself like we were.
Barnett River Gorges
This is the only official free bushcamping site along the Gibb River Road, and it's great. The track in is very rough, and the gorges themselves are apparently not that spectacular, compared to other Kimberley gorges.
(I can't say for sure because I never saw the Barnett River Gorges themselves.
The day we were there was the day the owners had chosen to burn the area along the gorge and we didn't feel like walking through all the smoke and coals and ashes...)
But the bush camp sites are beautiful. There are a lot of them, mostly clearings along the Barnett River. Just follow the different tracks until you find one that isn't taken.
If you like bush camping this is a beautiful place to spend a night before or after visiting Manning Gorge.
If you want to get to the Barnett River Gorges take the track to the right at every fork until you get to the river. It's best to park there and walk the last kilometre or so.
[ send green star]