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  • Written by The Westerly


The Gibb River Road is one of Australia's most unique 4WD* challenges.

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.

 

Best time: May to October

Duration: 10 to 14 days

Distance: 911 kilometres

 

Highlights:

 

Derby to Windjana National Park

Total distance: 152 kilometres

Your Gibb River Road adventure begins in Derby, an easy three-hour drive by sealed road from Broome.

Be sure to stock up on fuel, food and water supplies before leaving Derby.

The first 70 kilometres of the Gibb are sealed, then it’s 4WD all the way until you hit bitumen 30 kilometres from Kununurra.

Your first stop is Windjana Gorge National Park, situated within the Napier Ranges – part of an ancient reef system formed around 350 million years ago.

Its sheer 100 metre walls reveal fossils of primeval lifeforms and its cool pools support an abundance of wildlife.

Explore the 3.5 kilometre walk trail before hitting the road south for a visit to nearby Tunnel Creek National Park, WA’s oldest cave system.

Allow at least an hour and a half to take a torch-lit walk through the 750-metre tunnel and its subterranean world of bats and fresh water crocodiles.

Wear sneakers and prepare to get wet.

You’ll need to return to Windjana Gorge National Park to camp, where facilities include toilets, showers and firewood.

 

 

Windjana National Park to Bell Gorge / Mount Hart Homestead

Total distance: 133 kilometres

Head into the Kimberley highlands and stop at Lennard Gorge for a morning walk or swim.

It’s just a 30-minute walk to view the gorge, and an additional 15-minute steep climb to get to the water’s edge.

Your destination, Bell Gorge, is considered to be one of the Kimberley’s most spectacular attractions, with a cascading 100-metre waterfall, inviting swimming pools and breathtaking cliff-top views.

Camp under the clear Kimberley night skies at Bell Gorge campsite, or travel a little further to Mount Hart Homestead.

Here, you can stay at the heritage homestead or campsite with amenity block – it’s a good base for exploring the bushwalking and canoeing trails of King Leopold Range Conservation Park.

 

 

Bell Gorge to Manning Gorge

Total distance: 86 kilometres

Take the short drive to Galvans Gorge for a short bushwalk to spectacular granite outcrops and lily-filled waterways.

Continue on to Mount Barnett Roadhouse to pay your park entry and camping fees.

Ask the friendly local Indigenous owners for information on Manning Gorge walk trails and ancient Indigenous rock art sites, or book a guided walk to Upper Manning Gorge and Manning Falls.

Camp overnight at Manning Gorge.

 

 

Manning Gorge to Drysdale River Station

Total distance: 168 kilometres

Take a detour off the Gibb River Road along Kalumburu Road to the biodiverse wilderness of Mitchell River National Park.

Make an early morning swim stop at the Gibb River crossing before continuing on to your base at Drysdale River Station.

From here, you can take 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.

Explore the rainforests and open woodlands surrounding the station on foot, or go fishing on the river banks.

Choose from cabin-style accommodation or camping sites in the station grounds. For an extended Mitchell Plateau adventure, see the North Kimberley 4WD Experience itinerary.

 

 

Drysdale River Station to Home Valley Station

Total distance: 136 kilometres

Return to the Gibb River Road to reach Home Valley Station – a three-million-acre outback oasis nestled at the foot of the spectacular Cockburn Range.

Ride out with the stockmen and experience an authentic cattle muster.

Venture through ancient gorges and ranges to inviting plunge pools, or chase barramundi in some of Australia’s top fishing spots.

Powered and non-powered camping sites are available, with access to showers, toilets, gas barbecues and a bar serving drinks and meals.

 

 

Home Valley Station to El Questro Wilderness Park

Total distance: 141 kilometres

On your way to your last station stay, stop for a swim at Durack River crossing, fish for barramundi at Jack’s Waterhole or take in the expansive views of the Cockburn Ranges and Pentecost River.

Set on one million acres, El Questro Wilderness Park extends deep into the unexplored heart of the Kimberley.

Take a relaxing soak in the thermal pools at Zebedee Springs and a sunset cruise to Chamberlain Gorge.

Discover the region’s ancient Windjana Aboriginal rock art.

Join local guides on a hike to Emma Gorge, 4WD adventure or horse ride.

Or try your luck at hooking a one-metre barramundi.

Accommodation varies from camping and safari tent accommodation to self-contained cabins and the five-star homestead.

The park has a basic provisions store and a steakhouse restaurant.

 

 

El Questro Wilderness Park to Kununurra

Total distance: 95 kilometres

Complete your Gibb River Road adventure and head for the east Kimberley hub of Kununurra.

Stay a night or two and take a thrilling helicopter flight over one of the world’s most curious land forms, the Bungle Bungle Range of World Heritage listed Purnululu National Park, or cruise the big waters of Lake Argyle – the largest man-made lake in the southern hemisphere.

Direct flights to Perth are available from Kununurra, or you can continue your Kimberley adventure on the sealed Great Northern Highway to Broome, stopping overnight at Fitzroy Crossing to explore Geikie Gorge.

 

 

Important Travel Information

The Gibb River Road is accessible between May and October only.

Roads are often closed due to flooding between September and May (the wet season).

An adventure such as this requires drivers to take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.

Some experience of driving on un-sealed roads is recommended.

Your vehicle should be properly equipped with at least; two spare tyres; water and emergency provisions; a comprehensive tool, puncture repair and first aid kit; gas cooking equipment; sunscreen and insect repellent.

In the event of a breakdown, stay with your vehicle – it is easier to find than an individual.

There is also the option of hiring a vehicle and travelling in the safety of a small convoy led by an expert guide.

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 salt water crocodiles inhabiting river estuaries such as the Durack and Pentecost.

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