Now, any road that begins with a “The” deserves a certain amount of respect, caution even.
We had heard so much about the Gibb and originally intended to just have a little look in at either end of it, but, we were sucked into its vortex and tumbled headlong into the most fabulous adventure yet. Danger lurked at every bend. The threat of flat tyres, breakages, smashed back windscreens, crocs and dingoes was just the beginning!
Actually, the beginning was Derby. Here you can find the biggest tides in Australia and, as we sat on the jetty for lunch, the flat muddy water certainly seemed to come in very fast indeed.
More remarkable was this approximately 1500 year old boab tree which was used to imprison captive aboriginals in the not too distant past. It was fully hollow and fully spooky.
Our first overnight was at the foot of a much friendlier looking tree with a not so gruesome history at Birdwood Downs Station.
Windjana Gorge was our first encounter with the proper, blow-your-mind kind of Kimberly action.
The gorge was this black and orange rock, and, as you followed the river along, you could spot freshwater crocodiles hanging out in the water and on the shore.
This easy and exciting walk was such a nice way to start our Kimberly encounter.
Not far down the road was Tunnel Creek.
Now, I am not usually one for tunnels. And a tunnel with a creek running through it? You have got to be kidding! So, as I strolled into the pitch dark abyss of cave in knee deep freezing water with a baby on my hip and a crappy torch, you can imagine what I was thinking. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
However…… despite the cave roof hanging barely overhead high and covered in places with ghostbats, and despite the real possibility of freshwater crocs and despite the complete blackness of the dark, I had to be brave for the kids, and even ended up enjoying it myself!
It was awesome! I think it was about 1km to the end with an opening half way, then you had to turn around and come back. Jasper and Dash loved it big time. Even though Jasper’s light up shoes stopped lighting up about halfway through.
The road onto the next stop, Bell Gorge was interesting. This is Queen Victoria Rock in the middle.
They say you want to follow the grader on the Gibb, but don’t follow the water truck!
We slipped and slided up this hill crawling on the mud, behind this guy. We are still chipping away at the concrete like mud in our wheel arches. Our first semi-tricky water crossing out of the way, and we arrived at Bell Gorge and Silent Grove Campground.
Bell Gorge was an impressive triple-tiered waterfall with gorgeous swimming holes top and bottom after an easy 1km walk. We like easy walks.
It was here that the Marshmallow Tim Tam has been handcrafted and perfected. Mmmm Mmmmm.
We drove about 100kms per day which would take us on average, about 3 hours. The corruguations at times were horrendous, and the sharp rocks were everywhere, trying their hardest to puncture our 6 tyres. We only had 1 spare with us for the car, (and one for the van) but we proved that with good luck and slow careful driving, you can avoid a flat tyre yay!
Imintji Store was an interesting place to stop and have an awesome slice of mudcake.
You felt so remote, but yet you can score this amazing chocolate cake. It was a refreshing interlude from the harsh and unyielding road anyway.
The most picturesque and underrated gorge was called Galvans Gorge.
We had this one all to ourselves for a while. It felt like we had discovered it ourselves on some wondrous planet. There was even a ropeswing!
A cascading waterfall flowing into a perfectly clear round pool with a very intimate gorge surrounding. Absolutely magic.
Galvans Gorge. Put it on your bucket list.
The next stop on our incredible agenda was Manning Gorge. Our campsite was right on the bank of this crystal clear waterhole with the whitest sand beach.
There’s this little dinghy that you use to ferry yourself to the other side which was such a novelty!
Brian and I took turns doing the 5km gorge walk which made it such a tranquil and enjoyable experience. Solo. You really appreciate it sometimes hey.
I was so overwhelmed by the majesty of the Manning Falls I almost hyperventilated as I swam across the expansive waterhole and under the falls themselves. Perfectly stunning again. We could have a campfire every night and did the best job cooking this delicious curry fish in the coals.
After this was some of the worst sections of corrugated road and some pretty hairy creek crossings. None were deeper than about 40cm, but the bottoms varied from rocky, to really rocky, and some of the banks were steep and slippery.
There was a stopover at Ellenbrae Station on the way. A welcome oasis with $4.50 scones and a donkey heater in the shower. Very rustic indeed. During peak season they sell 200 scones a day. At $4.50 per scone, that’s a pretty healthy profit! Probably better than the cattle!
Home Valley Station was a very welcome sight.
The station overlooks these ridiculously spectacular Cockburn Ranges.
Lucky you could get a random patch of phone reception so we could coordinate our rendezvous with my Mum and sister Lisa a few days hence at El Questro. I absolutely could not wait to see them! But first, we had a few days to spend at Home Valley Station.
We were down to our bare bones of food by then and had rationed out our last drop of beer. There was a bar though. And a playground where I reckon the boys put in an 8 hour shift each day. We were able to organise Mum and Lisa to pick us up some supplies on their way through Kununurra so we were able to spend a total of 3 weeks on the Gibb River Road between Derby and Kununurra! Pretty good seeing as we originally planned for only 1 week. No wonder we ran out of beer!
Between us and El Questro lay the Pentecost River Crossing.
The motorbikes and oversized caravans actually made the crossing look worse than what it was so, after sitting there for half an hour working ourselves up to it, we cruised on over with no worries at all.
The Gibb River Road was no match for us! Now along to El Questro Wilderness Park to get clean and rejuvenate for the next part of the journey. El Questro is a story in itself……..