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Gibb River Road

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The Gibb River Road is one of Australia's most unique 4WD adventures. This legendary 660-kilometre stock route was originally built for droving cattle from Wyndham to Derby. Today, it’s an epic adventure exploring the Kimberley’s magnificent gorges, authentic outback cattle stations, ancient Indigenous culture and captivating pioneering history. Along the way, you'll be immersed into nature, with the opportunity to see freshwater crocodiles in their natural habitat, walk amongst the towering gorges, swim in the crystal clear plunge pools and soak it all up from above on a scenic flight. 

With so much to do along the way to see and do, we'd recommend spending between 10 days and two weeks to do it properly.

Travel

10 - 14 days


Route

Broome to Broome or Darwin

1200km


Best Time of the Year

May to October

Highlights

  • Windjana Gorge
  • Bell Gorge
  • King Leopold Ranges
  • Manning Gorge
  • Drysdale River Station
  • El Questro

Britz Safari Landcruiser off-road

Day 1
Broome to Derby

Distance 220km - Driving Time 2.75 hours

Once you’ve picked up your 4WD it’s time to get acquainted with a quick explore of Broome. Head out to Cable Beach, one of the most iconic Broome locations, famous for its 22 kilometres of sun-kissed white sand and turquoise water. Soak up this opportunity to get into the crystal clear Indian Ocean, hire some snorkel gear and explore the marine life, or stay dry and take a guided camel tour along the beach. On your way to Derby, stop in at the Pigeon Heritage Trail and learn about the Aboriginal tracker known as Pigeon, and once in Derby, make sure you visit the jetty to see some of the largest tidal movements in the southern hemisphere.

 

Where to stay - Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park.

Windjana Gorge

Day 2
Derby to Windjana National Park

Distance 152km - Driving Time 2.75 hours

Your Gibb River Road adventure begins in Derby - be sure to stock up on fuel, food and water supplies before leaving Derby as towns get sparser from here on in. The first 70 kilometres of the Gibb is sealed, then it's 4WD all the way until you hit bitumen 30 kilometres from Kununurra.

The first must stop place is Windjana Gorge. Situated within the Napier Ranges – part of an ancient reef system formed around 350 million years ago, the sheer 100-metre walls will astound you as you discover the fossils of primaeval lifeforms that live within and cool pools that support an abundance of wildlife. There’s a great short 3.5-kilometre walking trail to soak it all up.

Next up is Tunnel Creek, Western Australia’s oldest caving system. You’ll need a minimum of an hour and a half to explore the 750-meter tunnel. Don’t forget to take a torch as the tunnel is unlit and wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting wet.

 

Where to stay – Windjana Gorge Camp.

Britz Safari Landcruiser driving through water

Day 3
Windjana National Park to Bell Gorge

Distance 150km - Driving Time 6 hours

Leaving Windjana Gorge you’ll head into the Kimberley highlands and along the way will experience some real 4WDing action as you wind through the hills. First stop of the day is at Lennard Gorge for a short 30 minute morning walk to view the gorge and swim for those that are keen.

Next up is Bell Gorge, considered by many as one of the most spectacular attractions in the Kimberley. Think 100-meter cascading waterfall, inviting plunge pools to swim in and some stunning views from the top of the cliffs. It’s worth the drive itself just for these. For a real Aussie treat, you can camp under the clear night skies at Silent Grove campsite and wake up to perfect nature. Alternatively, Mount Hart Homestead provides more amenities.

 

Where to stay – Silent Grove campsite, Mount Hart Homestead.

Galvans Gorge

Day 4
Bell Gorge to Manning Gorge

Distance 130km - Driving Time 5.5 hours

On your way to Manning Gorge, the short bush walk at Galvans Gorge provides views of the spectacular granite outcrops interspersed by lily filled waterways and breaks up the journey really well.

Stop off at Mount Barnett Roadhouse to pay your entry and camping fees for Manning Gorge. Grab your spot at the Manning Gorge Campground and take the walks to Manning Gorge and waterfalls. The trip to the falls is an adventure in itself, as you’ll have to wade through streams and pull yourself across a waterway on a rope line in a small dingy. However once there you’ll find it’s worth the effort. Take a swim and relax in the plunge pool, explore the gorge climbing over the rocks and wading through the water or walk to the top of the waterfall. It’s big enough that you can happily spend hours exploring here.

 

Where to stay – Manning Gorge Campground.

Safari Landcruiser tent set up

Day 5
Manning Gorge to Drysdale River Station

Distance 165km - Driving Time 7 hours

It may be a slight detour, but the side road to Mitchell River National Park is well worth it. Stop at Mertens Creek and take the short walk to one of three waterfalls and explore the layered sandstone of Mitchell Plateau.

Next stop is Drysdale River Station. A haven in itself there’s plenty to explore here too, walks through the open woodlands and rainforests, or fish in the river just a minute from the campsite. Make sure you look up at the sky around sunset to see the sky glow a myriad of colours as the sun departs the day.

Where to stay – Drysdale River Station.

Scenic Flight - Credit Helispirit

Day 6
Drysdale River Station

Spend a day exploring (if you have time), finish off those walks you didn’t get to do last night, and take a day to relax. Treat yourself to a unique view of the area with a scenic flight over the coastal canyons of the Prince Regent River, circle Mitchell Falls and get an eagle's eye view of the dramatic Kimberley coastline.

Spend the evening relaxing, soaking up the station that describes itself as an Australia outback mixture of a hotel, motel, farmstay B&B and roadhouse. True blue Aussie accommodation set on a working ranch to give you a taste of what real Aussie life is like here.

Where to stay – Drysdale River Station.

Cockburn Range - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 7
Drysdale River Station to Home Valley Station

Distance 250km - Driving Time 9 hours

Jumping back onto the Gibb River Road, you’ll head towards Home Valley Station. Think classic Australian cattle ranch, and you’ve got Home Valley. Sitting at the foot of the magnificent Cockburn Range, the three million acre outback oasis provides you with the opportunity to see (and participate) in the main occupation around here – cattle farming. Don’t be thinking dairy farming or similar, think cowboys and stockmen going out on a cattle muster. Can't envision it? Well, you can go with them to experience it first-hand.

Take a wander through the gorges and ranges that can be found in the station on the signposted trails and take a swim in one of the idyllic plunge pools or try your hand at fishing for Barramundi in some of Australia’s top fishing spots. Make sure you’re back in time for the guided tour to see the sunset over the Cockburn Ranges though!

 

Where to stay – Home Valley Station.

Home Valley - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 8
Home Valley Station

Ride out with the stockmen on an authentic cattle muster – guaranteed an experience you won’t be able to forget. Or take a scenic horse riding tour exploring the Cockburn Range, venturing through the gorges and ranges to inviting plunge pools for a swim. You can lead a horse to water at Home Valley Station and it’d be rude not to have a swim while you’re there.

 

Where to stay – Home Valley Station.

Chamberlain Gorge - Credit Delaware North Companies

Day 9
Home Valley Station to El Questro Wilderness Park

Distance 60km - Driving Time 2 hours

On your way to El Questro, it’d be rude not to stop for a swim at Durack River crossing. For those keen, there’s the chance to fish for barramundi at Jack's Waterhole or take in the expansive views of the Cockburn Ranges and Pentecost River with a short walk.

The El Questro Wilderness Park, located deep in the heart of the Kimberley extends to over one million acres. An ideal location to spend a day or two exploring. The perfect way to enjoy this on your first night is to jump on a sunset cruise to Chamberlain Gorge to experience the magical deep red of the rocks contrasted against the vibrant sky and moon.

 

Where to stay – El Questro Wilderness Park Campground.

Safari Landcruiser camp setup

Day 10
El Questro Wilderness Park

If you have time, it’s well worth taking a day more to explore this place. For the adventurous, you can saddle up on either a horse or a 4WD tour to explore the park. For those more inclined to rest relax and enjoy the serenity, visit the thermal pools at Zebedee Springs, located under a canopy of prehistoric rainforest or Livistona and pandanus palms. You can easily spend a half day here just relaxing and soaking up the surroundings. And if you do get itchy feet, there’s plenty of short walks such as Emma Gorge to get the blood pumping.

 

Where to stay – El Questro Wilderness Park Campground.

Bungle Bungle Range - Credit Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd

Day 11
El Questro Wildness Park to Kununurra

Distance 110km - Driving Time 2.25 hours

The final leg of the Gibb River Road adventure takes you to Kununurra. Spend a morning visiting the Aboriginal art galleries to soak up a little culture. For the afternoon jump on board a cruise and explore Lake Argyle, the largest man-made lake in the southern hemisphere (21 times larger than the Sydney Harbour). Complete with its own waterways and little islands, a cruise will get you up close with the amazing array of birds, wallabies, crocodiles and fish that live around here.

A little side trip but well worth doing if you have time is to visit the Bungle Bungle Ranges. A World Heritage listed location, the black sandstone domes rise 300 meters from the grass-covered planes. A scenic guided flight leaves from Kununurra and affords you the best way to see them. Otherwise, if you’re heading back to Broome on the Great Northern Highway, you’ll pass them about 2.5 hours into your journey where you can stop off an explore them up close.

Britz Outback off roading


Where To Next?

From Kununurra, you’ve got two main options. Head back to Broome on the Great Northern Highway (about a 10-hour drive) and stop off along the way the Bungle Bungles, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. If you’re looking to break this into two days then a good place to stopover is Fitzroy Crossing where you can take the time to explore Geikie gorge.

Alternatively, you can continue the adventure into the Northern Territory and onto Darwin on the Victoria Highway. Highlights you’ll find along the way are Timber Creek, Katherine & Nitmiluk National Park, Litchfield National Park and the world famous and World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Britz Safari Landcruiser crossing water


Considerations About The Gibb River Road

Access to the Gibb River Road is between May and October only. The rainy season brings flooding between September and May and makes some of the roads impassable.

The Gibb River Road is largely unsealed. Some experience of driving on unsealed roads is recommended, and drivers should take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.

Between Kununurra and Derby, there are only two places where you can buy basic food supplies – Mount Barnett Roadhouse and Imintji Roadhouse. They also supply fuel and tyre repair assistance.

Beware of saltwater crocodiles inhabiting river estuaries such as the Durack and Pentecost.