Road Tripping the Gibb River Road

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by Hertz AU - 07 September 2018

During the dry season between March and November, traverse the Gibb River Road for an authentic Aussie experience. Running from Derby on the western side of the Kimberley region to Kununurra on the eastern side, you’ll take your 4-wheel-drive vehicle and road trip through 660km (410 miles)ofstunning outback.

Stop #1: Derby

Starting in Broome, rent your car and head out to Derby. The 2.5-hour drive is an easy, stress-free ride. Once you get to Derby, make sure you stock up on provisions for the first few legs of the trip. Originally built for droving cattle, this epic journey will take you through stunning gorges, and through the history of the first Australian pioneers and the Indigenous Peoples.

Stop #2: Windjana Gorge National Park

From Derby, drive 155km west (about a 5-hour drive) to Windjana Gorge National Park, where freshwater crocodiles roam freely. The Lennard River runs through the scenic Windjana Gorge through to the Napier Range with magnificent views in tow. Explore the gorge and take a short walk to Bandigan Rock to see ancient fossils.

Don’t miss stopping by Tunnel Creek during your stay in Winjana (33 km away). Used in the 1800s by an Aboriginal leader as a hideout, you can now hike about 1km through the tunnel by following the creek. It will take you to the other side of the Napier Range. There are two campgrounds (for people with and without generators) and both require travellers to bring their own firewood.

Stop #3: Bell Gorge or Mount Hart

Deep within the King Leopold Ranges, head to Bell Gorge, one of the most famous chasms. This is approximately a 6.5-hour drive. With a plethora of gorges in this area, explore walking trails, cascading waterfalls, and picturesque camping sites perfect for stargazing. If you’re keen to go a bit further, Mount Hart Homestead is about 100km north of Bell Gorge. Trek up to Sunset Hill or explore Annie Creek Gorge and Mt Matthew Gorge.

Stop #4: Manning Gorge

A 5.5-hour drive onwards from Bell Gorge (about a 7.5-hour drive from Mount Hart) will transport you to Manning Gorge. On your way out from Bell Gorge or Mount Hart, stop by Silent Grove for an extra bit of adventure. Mount Barnett Station within Manning Gorge is one of the best swimming locations within the Kimberleys. To get to the top of the gorge, travellers must hike 3km (starting at the campground) and cross Manning Creek by swimming or using the small rope-guided boat.

Explore Galvan’s Gorge (40-minute drive) for sparkling blue-green waters or Adcock’s Gorge for a refreshing swim (2-hour excursion). In the Manning Gorge region keep your eyes peeled, as you might be able to spot Wandjina or Bradshaw rock out.

Stop #5: Drysdale River Station

Moving on from Manning Gorge, travellers have a variety of routes to choose from. If you’d like to travel through the Gibb River Road at a faster pace, head directly to Drysdale River (about a 7.5-hour drive). If you have more time on your hands, many adventurers stop at Charnley River on the way to Drysdale River.

Charnley River is more remote and secluded. With a permit, visit the Donkey Pool, Grevillea Gorge, Dillie Gorge, and Lily Pool. If you head directly to Drysdale River instead, this is one of the main hubs for travellers to stop along their journey through the Gibb River Road. This destination is a working cattle station that has two campgrounds and proper Homestead accommodation available.

During your stay at Drysdale, you may opt to head up to Mitchell Plateau and Mitchell Falls (a 7.5-hour drive northwest – flights are also available). These are said to be the most impressive and stunning waterfalls within Australia. If you have the time and capacity, explore the hidden gem of the Gibb River Road. Mertens Falls and Little Mertens Falls are also located nearby.

Stop #6: Home Valley Station

Nine hours west of Drysdale River Station sits Home Valley Station. Located at the base of the resplendent Cockburn Range and nearby to the Pentecost River, Home Valley is rich with Indigenous culture. Home Valley hosts to a plethora of outdoor activities and offers a diverse ecosystem, boasting great fishing areas (try your luck catching a Barramundi), picturesque hiking trails, the perfect horseback riding landscape and an array of billabongs. From the station’s private lookout enjoy a striking sunset before moving on to your next stop.

Stop #7: El Questro

A short 1.5-hour drive south will take you to El Questro Station or El Questro Homestead. El Questro Homestead is perched above the Chamberlain Gorge. Along the way, you’ll be challenged with the Pentecost River Crossing. Take care when crossing depending on the time of year you are travelling through – this area is best to cross at the end of the dry season in September/October.

Explore the unspoiled wilderness and take a dip in the Zebedee Springs thermal pools. Be sure to explore the Emma Gorge, located a 1-hour walk from the Emma Gorge Resort. As you reach the sparkling oasis, you’ll find a 65-metre waterfall surrounded by cliffs. Alternatively, explore Branco’s Lookout or Explosion Gorge or go on a horseback ride through the outback.

Stop #8: Kununurra

The last 2-hour drive west will take you to your destination, Kununurra. Welcome back to civilisation. Have a short visit or spend a few days enjoying the area and excursions on offer. Visit the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, Mirima National Park, or take a cruise on Lake Argyle; and, if your budget permits, take a helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungle Range. Middle Springs, Black Rock Falls, Harry’s Hole, Valentine Springs, The Grotto and Ord River are other worthy expeditions.

From here, you can turn around and complete the long journey back to Broome/Derby or make your way onwards (about a 10-hour drive) to Darwin. Grab a 4WD and embark on the road trip of a lifetime through the Gibb River Road at your leisure.

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Article by Hertz AU

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