Reflections on the Gibb River Road

Fantastic scenery, wonderful swimming holes and a good road seem to sum up in a few words the Gibb River Road.

The Gibb River Road has developed a reputation as a hard 4×4 drive, a destroyer of cars and tyres but this is not what we found. Even allowing for the fact that we went right at the end of the season and just before the wet, when this road is supposed to be at its worst we couldn’t believe how good the road was. We kept looking at each other and saying “it can’t be all like this, it must get worse” but it didn’t. We had been told in Derby that the northern part of the road from Mt. Barnett onwards would be rough and we kept waiting for this but it just didn’t eventuate.

Crossing the Gibb River

Crossing the Gibb River

I’m not saying that the road didn’t deteriorate in places because it did. The road certainly had corrugations, some severe but only for short distances. Speeding or inattentive drivers may have been given a rude awakening if they hit one of the many bull dust holes and sharp dips and creek crossings had to be taken with care. .

We have talked to people on the road and those who have just completed the drive as well as those who actually do repairs and one thing is abundantly clear, lower your speed and tyre pressure and you are likely to have no issues on the road. Unfortunately there are a large number of drivers who have no idea about correct tyre pressures and even those who don’t seem to care as they don’t carry such basic equipment as a compressor or a tyre pressure gauge.

We sat on about 60kph for most of the trip yet a few cars passed us as though we were standing still. Speed and bouncing around on hard tyres is what destroys cars on the Gibb River Road and according to one station mechanic the Gibb attracts more than its fair share of idiot drivers.

Be aware that these comments are about the Gibb River Road itself not any tracks or road leading off it as these tracks can range from the same condition as the Gibb to so bad they are impassable even to the most intrepid adventurer.

Fire on the Gibb River Road

Fire on the Gibb River Road

The Gibb River Road is probably not for those inexperienced in travelling on remote gravel roads. Not because of the road condition but because it is a long way between mechanical assistance if it should be needed. It is also, and for the same reason, not for those poorly and inappropriately equipped. If travelling on such roads it is common sense to carry two spare wheels or at least a tyre repair kit (and know how to use it). If you get stuck there will always be someone who’ll come along to help you, or at least offer advice!

We had absolutely no problems caused by the Gibb River Road, our Goldstream Explorer handled it like it does any dirt road, with ease. The overheating problem with the car started before the Gibb River Road and was supposed to have been fixed in Derby before we started on the road. Just be aware that if travelling late in the season it does get very hot. Most days the thermometer in our car was showing air temperatures over 40C.

The overheating in our car caused us to miss going to the Mitchell Plateau and we certainly did not spend as much time on the road as we planned. This is the only regret I have about the entire trip, otherwise it was fantastic.

Kununurra  – Monday 10 October 2011

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One Response to Reflections on the Gibb River Road

  1. Looks like we had the same experience – the Gibb River Road wasn’t as ‘tough’ as the travel guides tell you, I’m not sure if you managed to go to Cape Leveque north of Broome: that road was ten times worse than the Gibb River Road! But we still had a terrific time though, exploring the GRR…

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