WA Gibb River Rd

NoWorries

Well-Known Member
Sep 28, 2015
805
1,343
93
Perth
www.expandasdownunder.com
#1
Hi All,
We are planning to do the Gibb River Rd next July and I want to know form the brains trust what to plan for.
Im pretty sure @Crusty181 has done it and i'm sure others have as well.
We will be taking the Van's (both 19ft full height)
We are used to corrugations.

What are the must do's and don't bother's and where can you can't you get your vans into.

Any help would be fantastic

Regards
Lindsay.
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#2
We planned for 2 weeks off the grid and loaded up with water accordingly. We need never have bothered, showers and toilets were in abundant supply so only drinking water was necessary. Even the National Park facilities were pretty good, but get in early for a shower because they are solar and if your a bit of a cool water sook, after sunset cool is all you'll get. I have small but reasonably bright LED with a magnet and clip. It looks a little like a pen about the size of the Sharpie. Its worth is weight in gold, because there always something it attached to for making ones self presentable etc after dark.

The road varies considerably in surface material and quality. At times we were happily bopping along at 80kmh, other times 20km. The road surface goes from bitumen on the jump ups, to rock, to gravel, to sand. The corrugations also varied from none to constant, sometimes only on the other side of the road, sometimes annoyingly only on yours. The worst corrugations we encountered were approaching the Kalumburu Rd turn off where it was potentially damaging in regards to van contents moving about. We found the worst sections longer, but not as bad as other places we'd travelled. The river crossings were not a challenge at all. All in all it was not as bad as Id expected, but I did expected pretty bad

We met a guy camping who drove the grader that does the eastern end of the road. The road had been graded it 1 week prior, and we were heading east from that point. The track was still pox, so it can deteriorate that quickly

I was a little skeptical of the fuel at Imintji. The place had just opened after a few years being closed and the above ground tanks looked filthy. If its stayed open over the last couple of years, it would probably by fine now with a steady flow of users. Mt Barnett on the other hand seemed much better run and a lower risk. Almost all the larger Indigenous communities have high quality 24hr medical care available. You'll find fire wood lying about everywhere (obviously not area camp areas) You wont need a chainsaw, 3/4 axe will do all you need. The camp costs in the National Park areas is cheap, but the Stations are seriously gouging. Id absolutely stay on every Station again, but they are still gouging.

Every gorge is worth the trek, but you will likely get all gorged out by the end of it. We dragged the van into everywhere we had planned to go, I didnt find anything I either couldnt or wouldnt drag the Behemoth into. We didnt do Mitchell Falls and we didnt do any of the WIlderness Parks; Mitchell Falls because we with good reasons not to, and the Wilderness Parks just because we could stay in every single possible place and the the outrageous prices pushed them to the bottom of the list

Both Home Valley and El Questro are sinfully commercial tourist hot spots designed as nothing more than a manufactured experience .... but they are still both awesome and unmissable. After 2 weeks of dust and corrugations the Home Valley bar, resort pool and restaurant was extraordinary. (showers were pox tho) We stayed at El Questo for a week and could easily have stay longer.

The GRR was one of the best 2 weeks travelling for me, I enjoyed it immensely.

At the Derby end of the GRR is the sign that says caravans shouldnt be taken on the GRR. Do what we did, take a photo of that sign with the van, but dont show anyone until you successfully get to the other end ;)
 
Last edited:

1DayIll

Well-Known Member
Apr 26, 2016
598
584
93
53
South Morang, Victoria
#4
We planned for 2 weeks off the grid and loaded up with water accordingly. We need never have bothered, showers and toilets were in abundant supply so only drinking water was necessary. Even the National Park facilities were pretty good, but get in early for a shower because they are solar and if your a bit of a cool water sook, after sunset cool is all you'll get. I have small but reasonably bright LED with a magnet and clip. It looks a little like a pen about the size of the Sharpie. Its worth is weight in gold, because there always something it attached to for making ones self presentable etc after dark.

The road varies considerably in surface material and quality. At times we were happily bopping along at 80kmh, other times 20km. The road surface goes from bitumen on the jump ups, to rock, to gravel, to sand. The corrugations also varied from none to constant, sometimes only on the other side of the road, sometimes annoyingly only on yours. The worst corrugations we encountered were approaching the Kalumburu Rd turn off where it was potentially damaging in regards to van contents moving about. We found the worst sections longer, but not as bad as other places we'd travelled. The river crossings were not a challenge at all. All in all it was not as bad as Id expected, but I did expected pretty bad

We met a guy camping who drove the grader that does the eastern end of the road. The road had been graded it 1 week prior, and we were heading east from that point. The track was still pox, so it can deteriorate that quickly

I was a little skeptical of the fuel at Imintji. The place had just opened after a few years being closed and the above ground tanks looked filthy. If its stayed open over the last couple of years, it would probably by fine now with a steady flow of users. Mt Barnett on the other hand seemed much better run and a lower risk. Almost all the larger Indigenous communities have high quality 24hr medical care available. You'll find fire wood lying about everywhere (obviously not area camp areas) You wont need a chainsaw, 3/4 axe will do all you need. The camp costs in the National Park areas is cheap, but the Stations are seriously gouging. Id absolutely stay on every Station again, but they are still gouging.

Every gorge is worth the trek, but you will likely get all gorged out by the end of it. We dragged the van into everywhere we had planned to go, I didnt find anything I either couldnt or wouldnt drag the Behemoth into. We didnt do Mitchell Falls and we didnt do any of the WIlderness Parks; Mitchell Falls because we with good reasons not to, and the Wilderness Parks just because we could stay in every single possible place and the the outrageous prices pushed them to the bottom of the list

Both Home Valley and El Questro are sinfully commercial tourist hot spots designed as nothing more than a manufactured experience .... but they are still both awesome and unmissable. After 2 weeks of dust and corrugations the Home Valley bar, resort pool and restaurant was extraordinary. (showers were pox tho) We stayed at El Questo for a week and could easily have stay longer.

The GRR was one of the best 2 weeks travelling for me, I enjoyed it immensely.

At the Derby end of the GRR is the sign that says caravans shouldnt be taken on the GRR. Do what we did, take a photo of that sign with the van, but dont show anyone until you successfully get to the other end ;)
This trip is on the bucket list!
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#5
Thanks Mate
Why not Mitchell Falls ?
We left home for 14 months and we were right on our weight limit. Mitchell Plateau and the tip of Cape York required camping gear and I didnt want to cart camping gear around at the expense of other stuff we'd have to ditch to allow for it. Neither Mitchell Plateau or the tip are going anywhere, so we made that decision well before we left home. Travel buddies we met on the road left their van in Derby and did the GRR with us in the van and them in a tent. They had the intention of doing a double back along the highway from Kununurra to collect their van. They decided to do a lightning blast back west along the GRR and go to Mitchell Falls on the way back with the tent. The summary was first 50odd kms to Drysdale was apparently horrible, but from there to Mitchell Falls was like a suburban road, and in better nic than the GRR. Ironically we could have dragged the Behemoth all the way to the Falls .... but it could have also ended very badly as well.

We are planning another giant lap so will no doubt get a opportunity again
 

Smirke

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2014
1,676
2,902
113
Palmyra, WA
#7
Hi @NoWorries, we did the GRR July 2016 and took the van.

You can leave your van at drysdale before going on to Mitchell Plateau, but we left ours at Ellenbrae (Logan was awesome. has an area around the back and let us leave it there for free) due to the kalumburu road condition. You can't take vans there, the road in places is steep and has tight turns, also the camping area is just that.....designed for camping.
People had campers in there, but we just took 3 biker swags, 2 tents and the engel. Got the swags off eBay (weis something brand, which are great quality) and had a kings roof top bag filled with bedding, and 2 jerrys of fuel on the roof rack. Just remember, one persons view of the conditions can be very different to another. One person tried to talk us out of going, but another group found us and told us it was fine, they just returned that arvo. Think it was 7/8 hours in and 6 hours out. Was only bad on the first 30km of the kalumburu road, then it was fine. Found beach tracks in worse condition.

I put some foam on the pipes to protect them, and covered the vent on the step. Got no dust in the van, and the only breakages was our pot draw plastic bit that holds the runner (I had heavy saucepans -baccarat ones- in there), our drainage pipe got a crack in it (miracle tape, a toilet roll tube and gaffa tape fixed it....still good today) and all but one lot of brakes needed to be clipped back on. Would have loved a stonestomper, but funds didnot permit it, however the box on the front protected the van very nicely. Got more stone chips from travelling on the road. Fuel was pricey, we took our own water and found all the recommended walk times were for people with zimmer frames!
And remember, a dip in the road is like a gorge. They are big. I slowed to 20km/h on those and stuck to 70km/h ( car seemed to know what speed to do. Slowed to 30km when it needed and sped up to 85km on the flat bits). Passed a few cars and plenty of campers with problems, but then they were the ones who sped passed me at 100km and never slowed. They also didnt let their tyres down.

All in all, had a great time. Just remember the camping shovel to help build your fire and plenty of marshmallows. The wood you collect out of the campsites, so if you can just collect it near the entrances. I also bought an RACWA annual parks pass, and that paid the park fees. And, visit the bank and get bags of $50 in smaller amounts made up. At our 2nd stop (bells I think) the rangers wife gets alot made up for people who forget, like me!!

Our van is the 21-64 OB (3.1T loaded and 10.5m full length from front of drawbar to the end), and was chockers full of food for 6. We fitted no worries at all, but at Manning, get there early for the pick of spots. It fills quick and that will make it hard to drive thru, as there are some people who are not very considerate.

Just returned yesterday from a trip north still using the same original tyres it came with back in Xmas 2014, so couldnt have hurt our van too badly.
 

Smirke

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2014
1,676
2,902
113
Palmyra, WA
#9
"visit the bank and get bags of $50 in smaller amounts made up" as in coins ?
what for ?
and thanks for the info.
camping fees. Not all are manned, so it is the 'put the money in the envelope and write your details on it, then tear off the strip and put on dash' we rocked up to Windjana and didn't have enough smaller cash, so short changed them by a few dollars. Mentioned it to the ranger and offerred to pay extra once we got bags of smaller $$$, but he said not to worry as some give more, some give a bit less depending on what they could make up at the time.
The bags had $10, $5, $2, $1 and a few 50c denominations. Cant remember exactly how much it was but having those bags, although heavy, was very handy. The annual park pass was brilliant too, as we managed to get it for around $20 online in a sale.
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#11
We have a great laugh at some freecamp fees. Only a clueless bureaucrat who's never ventured past the end of his suburban street could come up with the fee schedules.

QLD for example $6.35 per person which just ensures they get nothing. They also provide the legislated excuse why they get nothing. "sorry, it didnt have the ridiculous denominations you idiots required". $5 or $10 would surely beat not getting $6.35

Another cracka is the online only booking and payment systems in areas with no phone or internet. One free camp in SA had a honesty box that was welded shut .... really?? Id love to see the funny things people have put in there.

Im happy to pay reasonable fees I but I refuse to have to make a part time job out of it. I don't ever pay for the Cruskett in freecamps; thats just an insult.
 
Likes: bigcol

megcam

Well-Known Member
#14
Giving the new van a good workout ???
Hopefully not too good a work out and we come out the other side in a reasonable state:amen:

We are planning on heading up to Normanton, Croyden & Karumba first followed by a leisurely run along the Savannah Way and pending how much damage that I need to repair after that will hit the Gibb. Reading your Blog @Crusty181 I might be doing the worst of it first.
 

Scrounger

Active Member
Oct 7, 2016
51
100
33
Shoalhaven
#15
Just as a side note I'm currently sitting at Barn Hill Station WA ( someone needs to)
On the way up I saw standing water in paddocks from about Sandfire roadhouse, I have been told it is also laying from Robuck Plains intersection down to hear about 130ks. ( its not much but I was supprised to see it.)
It just shows how much and how late the last rain fell, only lasting issue has been the mozies are prolific.

Also if you want to do the Horizontal falls I believe the bookings are 3 weeks in advance so said the guy in the van close to me.
I am as far from home as I can get and this guy lives 15 k from me back home. Duhhhhh!!!!!!
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#17
Just as a side note I'm currently sitting at Barn Hill Station WA ( someone needs to)
On the way up I saw standing water in paddocks from about Sandfire roadhouse, I have been told it is also laying from Robuck Plains intersection down to hear about 130ks. ( its not much but I was supprised to see it.)
It just shows how much and how late the last rain fell, only lasting issue has been the mozies are prolific.

Also if you want to do the Horizontal falls I believe the bookings are 3 weeks in advance so said the guy in the van close to me.
I am as far from home as I can get and this guy lives 15 k from me back home. Duhhhhh!!!!!!
We're from Melb and I couldnt travel with any of my life long friends, Id kill them. On our lap we met a family in Canarvon and became very close friends and travelled together for a few months. They live 5 km from us.
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#18
Hi @NoWorries, we did the GRR July 2016 and took the van.

You can leave your van at drysdale before going on to Mitchell Plateau, but we left ours at Ellenbrae (Logan was awesome. has an area around the back and let us leave it there for free) due to the kalumburu road condition. You can't take vans there, the road in places is steep and has tight turns, also the camping area is just that.....designed for camping.
People had campers in there, but we just took 3 biker swags, 2 tents and the engel. Got the swags off eBay (weis something brand, which are great quality) and had a kings roof top bag filled with bedding, and 2 jerrys of fuel on the roof rack. Just remember, one persons view of the conditions can be very different to another. One person tried to talk us out of going, but another group found us and told us it was fine, they just returned that arvo. Think it was 7/8 hours in and 6 hours out. Was only bad on the first 30km of the kalumburu road, then it was fine. Found beach tracks in worse condition.

I put some foam on the pipes to protect them, and covered the vent on the step. Got no dust in the van, and the only breakages was our pot draw plastic bit that holds the runner (I had heavy saucepans -baccarat ones- in there), our drainage pipe got a crack in it (miracle tape, a toilet roll tube and gaffa tape fixed it....still good today) and all but one lot of brakes needed to be clipped back on. Would have loved a stonestomper, but funds didnot permit it, however the box on the front protected the van very nicely. Got more stone chips from travelling on the road. Fuel was pricey, we took our own water and found all the recommended walk times were for people with zimmer frames!
And remember, a dip in the road is like a gorge. They are big. I slowed to 20km/h on those and stuck to 70km/h ( car seemed to know what speed to do. Slowed to 30km when it needed and sped up to 85km on the flat bits). Passed a few cars and plenty of campers with problems, but then they were the ones who sped passed me at 100km and never slowed. They also didnt let their tyres down.

All in all, had a great time. Just remember the camping shovel to help build your fire and plenty of marshmallows. The wood you collect out of the campsites, so if you can just collect it near the entrances. I also bought an RACWA annual parks pass, and that paid the park fees. And, visit the bank and get bags of $50 in smaller amounts made up. At our 2nd stop (bells I think) the rangers wife gets alot made up for people who forget, like me!!

Our van is the 21-64 OB (3.1T loaded and 10.5m full length from front of drawbar to the end), and was chockers full of food for 6. We fitted no worries at all, but at Manning, get there early for the pick of spots. It fills quick and that will make it hard to drive thru, as there are some people who are not very considerate.

Just returned yesterday from a trip north still using the same original tyres it came with back in Xmas 2014, so couldnt have hurt our van too badly.
We were on the GRR between @burnsie and you guys.