On the Gibb River Road … with the rest of Australia (and Germany and England and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all)

COVERING about 660 km across The Kimberley, Western Australia, from Derby in the west to Kununurra in the east, the gravel Gibb River Road is a route of legend and of remarkable beauty. 

Legendary because it is so tough on vehicles, and so remote.

Beautiful because of the landscape of low, weathered mountain ranges which jut at intervals from the plains, home to clusters of stunning red rock gorges and national parks wedged between vast cattle stations.

These days crossing the Gibb is far from a lonely pursuit. It would be a whole lot less dusty if it wasn’t for the damn traffic!

We thought we were hitting it early in the dry season. In fact many of the gorge roads were still impassable, after a record Wet season, when we arrived in Broome in early May.

But there doesn’t seem to be an ‘early’ any more. So many people travelling out here, in convoys, in family groups, groups of young backpackers, groups of grey nomads. Hundreds of hire 4wds with over-inflated tyres, banging over the corrugations. Trailers and campers and caravans and roof-top contraptions of infinite variety.

For those who don’t want the whole drama/time frame/stress/cost/expense/research of driving up there themselves, there’s tailored tours in massive 4wd buses which will deliver you in comfort to ‘safari tents’ and seasonal bars and restaurants at various sanctuaries, cattle stations and resorts.

If you have the money, you can be flown into and over the remarkable Kimberley beauty spots as well.

What an industry. And what a contrast to how it was when we last travelled up here a couple or three decades ago!

But the beauty of those rocky gorges and cascading waterfalls and bulbous boabs will never be diminished, even if the peace is regularly interrupted by helicopters and drones buzzing overhead!

We did go to a couple of places which were a little more exclusive. More on this next time.

Camping at Windjana Gorge. Busy because of its proximity to Derby and Broome and the Great Northern Highway) but a majestic gorge in scale and drama. Solar heated showers, flushing loos and plenty of water. 


Queen Victoria’s Head, where the Gibb River Road passes through the Napier Range.



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