It was with no little trepidation that we set off from Kununurra to the turnoff to the Gibb River Road.
First stop was at the eastern end for a group shot.
Then off down the road towards the Cockburn Ranges.
The bitumen didn’t last long and we stopped just past the El Questro turnoff to lower our tyre pressures to something more suitable for running on the rough stuff. We dropped ours to 24PSI for the cruiser and 28PSI for the van. Had no tyre problems at all.
The Cockburn Ranges are spectacular.
And the road was not too bad.
We arrived at the Pentacost River crossing
I was the first across.
We all crossed safely and headed further south.
We stopped at a Photo-Op location just past Home Valley Station. We were doing one of our routine checks on our hub temperatures when I found one of my van hubs was running hot.
The Management sorted it. We got the hub off after letting it cool down. Turned out the brake shoes were on a little too tight. We adjusted the brakes, bunged a little more grease in the bearings put it all back together and set off again.
We found a great camp not far further down the road that had a view over the Cockburn Ranges, the Pentecost River and the confluence of the rivers at Wyndham. It also had decent Telstra connection, the last on the Gibb River Road.
It was my birthday so we applied our skills with the camp ovens and cooked up a dinner of lamb shanks and a chocolate cake, with candles, for desert.
I thought it was an appropriate occasion to have another cigar. A Cohiba Behike. Very nice.
The Gibb wasn’t too bad, but some of the roads leading off it were pretty rugged. This was the road to Ellenbrae Station and we’d pulled up to help a couple of guys in a Prado. They said they’d heard a bang and then some thumping noises. I had a look and found a blown shocker on the front driver’s side wheel. The rest of the management agreed with the prognosis. We told them to lower their tyre pressures and slow down a little.
Ellenbrae Station was a pleasant green spot and we stayed their for lunch.
We circled the wagons at Russ Creek that night. A good camp spot well back from the road and nice and flat.
We turned right at the Kalumburu and headed on up to Drysdale Station. The road was pretty rough so we kept the speed right down.
We came across an 80 Series Landcruiser abandoned and being stripped on the side of the road. Apparently a local bloke died in it and it was left there to rot.
We arrived at Drysdale Station and settled in for a few days.
We arranged the vans in our “Circle the Wagons” configuration. No power, no water, $15 per person per night.
The place was quite busy with a large number of motorcycle riders camping there. Beer was around $8 a stubby.
The Kimberley Burger was pretty tasty, and should have been for $18 for lunch or $26 for dinner (with chips).
We cooled off in Miner’s Pool just up the road from the station.
We cooked up a side of beef in the camp oven.
For Terry and Rosemary’s Wedding Anniversary.
We thought the road out to Mitchell Falls was just a little too rough for comfort so we booked a flight.
The countryside was pretty arid.
And some great ranges.
And closer up.
And the Prince Regent River.
We flew along the river.
Heading towards St. George Basin.
The river turned a little turbid and green as it became an estuary.
There wasn’t much water going over the King Cascades.
Mt. Trafalgar stood out.
Or this might have been Mt. Trafalgar. It was just next door to the last image.
Lots of bays along the Kimberly Coast.
And lots of cliffs and beaches.
It would be a great place to go with a boat.
We arrived over the Mitchell Falls and did a few orbits.
It was a pity the gorge was in the shadow.
But we were pleased that the falls we running.
Judy was enjoying herself.
We had a good view of our “Circled Wagons” on the landing approach.
We left Drysdale Station headed off back to the Gibb. Along the way Terry called up to say he had a problem. A broken spring.
We strapped the axle up and slowly headed back to Drysdale.
The Drysdale Station staff were very helpful, they gave Terry a number to call in Kununurra for the replacement springs and organised the shipment. Next morning the springs arrived by air at about 7:30AM and The Management set to work. We’d replace all the springs by mid afternoon.
And got pretty dirty in the process.
We set off early the next morning and we very pleased to arrive back at the relative smoothness of the Gibb River Road.
We motored on through the red dust.
And arrived at the Mount Barnett Roadhouse, gateway to Manning Gorge.
We set up camp at Manning Gorge, no power or water but the best ablutions block I’ve seen in a bush camp.
Next day we ferried across the Manning River for the trek to the gorge.
It’s a little over an hour across rocky ground and small gorges.
With wonderful views if you remember to look back at where you’ve come from.
Coco accompanied us and enjoyed a refreshing drink stop along the way.
The gorge was delightful. Plenty of water and full of fish.
I’d love to have a house on the gorge rim.
The waterfalls didn’t look particularly good in the image, but they were great being there.
The water tasted pretty good as well.
We were lucky to see so much water so late in the dry.
This was pool we went swimming in.
We swam over and under the falls. There was quite a stream of water falling.
Lots of Boab trees around. Some were extremely large.
The Manning River was only a couple of hundred metres from our camp and we went down for a swim the next day.
We left Manning Gorge and filled up the next day at Barnett Station. $2.50 litre for petrol or diesel. Ouch.
So back on that wonderful red dust
and corrugations again. But the vistas were amazing at every turn.
We crossed a number of ranges.
and lots of rocky terrain.
We stopped at Imintji for an excellent lunch an the diesel boys refilled at a somewhat cheaper price.
A little further down the road we were passed by a “hiker” looking somewhat tired.
There’s a lookout spot not far south of the turnoff to Bell Gorge that provides a great outlook over the Kimberley countryside.
We camped for a couple of days at March Fly Glen.
Rather poor name, but a lovely location surrounded by escarpments and full of tiny birds.
Continuing down the road we stopped for some great photo ops in the King Leopold Range.
Queen Victoria’s Head on the right down the road is an interesting rock formation.
It’s a little more obvious up close.
We set up camp next to the Lennard River.
And the intrepid travellers set off next day to Tunnel Creek.
The tunnel goes for about 750m
Parts of the tunnel have collapsed allowing a some daylight in.
There was quite a deal of water to wade through.
And some aboriginal art on the rock walls at the south entrance.
Rob adjusted the water temperature
Next morning we went to Windjana Gorge.
Large numbers of fresh water crocodiles.
Surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs of old coral reefs.
Some of the “freshies” were quite large.
And while it is claimed they they are relatively docile and harmless, will still rip you leg off if you upset them.
The entrance/exit to the gorge is through a narrow cleft.
We left our campsite and headed to Derby. A fairly easy run over a mix of bitumen and smooth graded gravel roads.
And celebrated our adventure with a glass of french champagne at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park.
Great photos mate
Wow..looks like you had a fabulous time..great photos…wish we had been with you…enjoy you guys..
Thank you Rob for posting this and sharing it. Really enjoyed it. If I show Ray, he will want to go and do the Gibb River Road. I thought I’d managed to get it out of his system….if he sees these pics, he’s going to get the idea back into his blood.
We are in the process of planning our trip, and looking at your photos makes me want to do it now. Other than the broken spring and hub getting warm did you encounter any other problems. We wish to take our traveller sensation along there and I have had some doubts but after seeing your photos it has given me confidence if you drive to road conditions.
Exactly Craig. Drive to the road conditions. We let our tyres down to around 25psi for the tug (Landcruiser) and 30psi for the van and we never drove faster than 60kph and much slower on the really rough sections of the Kalumburu Road up to Drysdale Station.