Tuesday, September 28, 2010

De Gibb...the great Gibb River Road...The Mecca for 4wd Aussies

The great Gibb...it is a a mecca for 4wd camping Australian and many overseas travellers. 

We headed into the Gibb from the Western side in convoy with friends we had met way back in Francois Peron National Park and made it all the way from Broome to Windjana Gorge in 1 day - a mammoth drive for us.

Leaving Broome was monumental after spending just over 2 months in Broome and the Dampier Peninsula.  We said goodbye to friends, Leonie, Mick, and Trac, and our favourite spots.  I'm sure we'll be back.

Awesome sunset coming into Windjana Gorge behind us...and the signs of rain!!  So long since we had been out bush and it was going to rain?  It was just a speckle though.  We were really hit by the heat at Windjana when we arrived in the dark.  A little overwhelming and we reminded ourselves to be prepared for the rising heat. 

Next morning Pete woke us up with "Mum, guess whewe are camped next to!  Look at this!"  The most beautiful cliff-face.  Stunning colours especially at sunrise and sunset. 

Day 1 saw us exploring croc infested Windjana Gorge.  Our first encounter with the ol' croc and I realised that I was not as afraid as I though I would be.

We found a fruit bat colony, first by noise, smell, then sight.

Great to get so close to them and watch them move around squawking to each other.  We waited for a croc to reast on one, to no avail.

Day 2 we drove to Tunnel Creek - awesome experience climbing into an underground creek and walking through it.

...even for a freaked out out cave-aphobic like me. 

Wonderful rock art at the end.

Steve and Jo's car started playing up there...battery trouble.  All the way back i got worse.  Matt and Steve drove it back to Derby that afternoon.  We heard from the ranger than evening that they broke down 60km short of Derby, Matt had hitched into town to organise the towing and Steve was with the car.  Poor Steve slept with the car whilst Matt had his first night in a bed in 6 months and ate barra and potato at Bill's place!  They both made it back safely the next afternooon. with lots of stories for the kids.

I took the opportunity to waterproof the tent.  I figured that you never know....

Next day we took off to Silent Grove after a visit to Rob at Lennard River Bridge Snack Stop for an icypole.  We had lunch at Dog Chain Creek where the boys got their fishing rods out and played with the fish.  An altercation between Matt and Pete saw Pete's DS fly into the long grass...much searching turned up nothing.  Some snake is having a great time playing Mario Cart!

We camped at the base of the sandstone cliffs of Silent Grove in the twilight hours and the ranger told us of the death adders, olive python 3 metres long, and whip snakes that all come out at night, too hot in the day.  Enough for the boys for have the fear whipped into them.    We did school work in the morning, with Jo conducting a science lesson on levers and pulleys, then headed down to Bell Gorge to cool off in the heat of the day. 

It was beautiful. 

There was a great rock to slide down which occupied the boys for the afternoon.

Next day off to Mt Barnett to go through to Manning Gorge.  On our way we passed through Imitji for gas and an icypole.  A great well stocked store.

We saw Frank Hann's Boab tree (an early explorer)

and popped into Galvin's Gorge for a swim and to look at the brilliant artwork.

Manning Gorge had a great feel to it.   We decided that we needed to slow down.  We were exhausted from moving at this speed, so we stayed 2 full days there & the Peacocks moved on to do their own thing from here. 

We had a relaxing first day paying in the billabong - boys jumping off the dinghy until we actually got cold - what a wonderful feeling.

Manning Gorge walk was quite hard in the heat.  We went out early, but it was still stinking hot.  Very exposed walk. 

The reward was at the end.  A delicious pool deeper than you could imagine with natural diving boards.  We stayed until we only had a small amount of water left (and my head hurt - it doesn't really like the heat). 

We also had a brilliant bower's love nest near us at our campsite.

From Manning, after a sprinkle of rain again, we drove onto the turnoff of Mitchell Falls.  We turned up and made it only 20km before deciding that we valued our car and would prefer not to sit for 3-4 days beside the road in 40+ degrees waiting for parts (axle, shockers, etc) to come in, as so many others were.  We had too far to go still.  It really was the worst corrugation that we had yet been on.  It was the road that beat us...and apparently this was the best bit. 

We turned around, and came back to camp on the Gibb River at a lovely tranquil spot under tall gum trees with birds and butterflies and barely anyone else.  We rested there for 2 nights very peacefully.

After leaving there we saw a car with a broken axle who had just come down the Mitchell Falls/Kalumbaru Road...we were pleased with our decision.

Onto Ellenbrae Station for a scone and to see beautiful crimson and double barred finches

then to El Questro Station.

El Questro Station is what we would call "touristic", however, a must see in that it enables access to some great gorges and hot springs.  In peak season apparently they have up to 500 campers a night.

We were at the other end - they were taking down some of the facilities.  That's the way we like it!  Quiet.    We saw more snakes because of the heat and Matt got to help remove a King Brown from the campsite. The heat also meant that we were unable to do as many walks as it was just dangerous. 

We left for one at 6.15am (Emma Gorge).  It was beautiful.  Butterflies aplenty and a gorgeous pool at the end.  On the return walk, you are able to use the resort pool, which we did until sometime in the afternoon.

Zebedee Springs was a wonderful hot springs with water cascading into pools.

By 9.30 we attempted a walk into Moonshine Gorge.  It was a disaster.  Too hot and too exposed. We had to turn back and go back to the billabong.

Frank turned 11 here and spent the day playing in the billabong having a lovely time.  I made him a yummy chocolate cake on the fire that unforturnately the flies also thought were good...and at cake cutting time, we found it covered in maggots!  OOOOOWWWW!  Foul!  Our first maggot moment.  Hard not to feel terribly sick and a reminder how easy it could be.

made good bread though...

After 16 days, we finally drove out of the Gibb River Road to Kununurra to restock before going to the Bungles.  Nice to be in the bush again and great to have had no damage to us or the car.


  1. Oh Meg, how wonderful hearing your adventures. Family is off to visit Grant and Fynn today at Cuboree in Gembrook (Fynn is 9 today). When they headed off Sunday snow was forecast down to 800m where they are. Strange to think of you in the blistering heat. What a magical place to live...love to you all....Shelley

  2. Hey Shelley! what a contrast, snow and heat. We are in Darwin now, pouring with rain and humidity like we have never known... can't last many days here in a tent :) love to all! Meg