The Big Lap - Gibb River Road Part 1


Tookie Visits Bell Gorge on the Gibb River Road


The Gibb River Road is 665k’s long and mostly unsealed, however that will no doubt change as they are working on sealing more of it as I write this.  If you want to go to Windjana Gorge which is the first major attraction, then it is sealed until the turn off and then about 20k’s of dirt road to the gorge.

We had heard good and bad reports about the state of the Gibb known for many a tyre blow outs and suspension damage over the years.  If the grader has just been through then you will have a relatively smooth ride, but if not, it is heavily rutted.    So, after much disscussion, we agreed unanimously to leave the van in Derby and do day trips.  That way the van wouldn’t be damaged and the fuel bill would be a small price to pay to avoid the possibility of outlaying hundreds if not thousands of dollars to fix any damage that may occur.  Thus decided, we would do day trips and then come back to the comfort of our van and air-con.

A little way on the Gibb there was a detour around some of the road works.  This detour was most horrendous and I am sure we would have done major damage to the caravan should we have taken the Gibb.  See Video below.  



Having said the above, this page is divided into two parts being either side of the Gibb River road as we did not do the middle bit which is renowned to have very bad road conditions.  We went in as far as Imitiji Roadhouse on the western side and El Questro on the eastern side.  Then we drove from Derby to Kununurra on the Great Northern Highway.




First day, we headed off to Bell Gorge – 250k’s up the Gibb.  Goodness!  What a long day!  We took a picnic and Tookie joined us for the ride.  See opening pic.

Bell Gorge wasn’t too far off the Gibb so we didn’t have to endure too much rutty road.  There was one bit that had a washaway.  I GoPro’d hubby going through it.  See video below. We found the Gibb Road itself not too bad.  Some parts were even tarred.  However, there were parts that were not so good but on the whole it was ok.  It’s just that the roads leading off are a bit dicey. 

 The walking track into Bell Gorge started with a steep grade downhill and then a long stretch of nothing but rocks and boulders.  Walking back out and up that steep grade nearly did me in.  By the time I got to the top I had to rest for 10 minutes to regain my breath and wabbly legs. 

But it was worth it.  The gorge is very pretty.  I can see why it is classed as one of the more picturesque gorges on the Gibb.  I went for a swim and chilled whilst hubby continued on the path up and around and down to the bottom of the waterfall.  That did him in.  I had to go and grab his camera whilst he traversed the last little bit back, where he half fell in and Tookie in the backpack ended upside down.  They were both ok thank goodness.





Next day we did Windjana Gorge which was not as long. 

Side story.  The day before we came across this dude who had lost a huge bolt that was holding his left-hand front tyre to the suspension.  We did not have anything that could assist.  We had flagged down a number of travellers who could not assist either.  Finally one guy came along who had a couple of bolts that were a little bit smaller and longer.  So the guy did a bit of a dodgy fix job including a couple of cable ties and we left him to limp slowly towards Derby.  We thought that there was no way he was going to get 10k’s up the road.

Anyway, we arrived at Windjana Gorge next day early at about 7.30 and low and behold, Mr Toyota was there!  We couldn’t believe it!  However, when the Ranger turned up, the dodgy fixit guy left in a hurry.  Seems that he doesn’t like paying to stay in National Parks….

Windjana Gorge was a magical place.  Full of birdlife and fresh water crocs, who by the way are quite placid and not like their salt water brothers.  The light this early in the morning was just right for photography so we were able to take some specky shots.  The walk in is really easy.  My kind of easy.  😊

I would have loved to have sat for a while to take it all in however the march flies were having nothing of that.  They are really bad.  Tip – take plenty of insect repellent when visiting Windjana Gorge.

We loved this place still the same.




Below are random shots in no particular order of interesting landscape and wildlife that you can expect to see on the Gibb River Road.  The video shows landscape but bear in mind that I took most of the footage on the bitumen because that was obviously a lot smoother – whereas the Gibb River Road is mostly corrugated dirt.   If doing the same as us, you will need to fill up with fuel at Imitiji Roadhouse.  We expected more at this place.  Don’t bother spending any money other than fuel.

We were glad that we took our picnic with us.  We ended up stopping mid afternoon at a place called Lennard River which is almost opposite the turn off to Windjana Gorge.  

This is also a good free overnight spot if you choose not to travel in and out of Derby, as is Dog Chain Creek and March Fly Glen.  They all looked nice for free camping.  Plenty of shade and water holes.




No comments: