Day 22: Tuesday 20th Jan: The Truth about the Gibb River Road

Author: Mr A

The road: hundreds of kilometres of corrugations with jagged rocks. Just under $500s this morning for a new tyre. If you’re towing a van there will be issues – cabinetry will rattle to pieces however well built. It’s punishing. The grader clearly hasn’t been around for a while and with this volume of vehicles that is a recipe for painful driving, and this morning on the Kalamburu Road from Drysdale was even worse!

The campsites: the air is constantly thick with choking dust from all the vehicles charging up and down oozing machismo.  Some of the campsites at the stations are OK, but don’t expect to find a quiet bush camp, everywhere we’ve pulled off there have been other campers. 

The scenery: so far hasn’t been very inspiring when driving, with days of low dusty scrub lining the road.

So why do so many people drive the Gibb? We are puzzling over that question, judging by our experience so far. There are so many more attractive parts of Australia with incredible wildlife and fewer visitors. The whole east coast Main Range from Brisbane to Eden for instance. Thousand of kilometres of trails where you will often find quiet camping and always awesome scenery. This is the Australia we know and love. Australians, I know, do like the idea of a vehicle based challenge. Driving tough tracks as an end in itself. There’s certainly plenty of that to be had up here. For us, we see the car and van as a means to get us somewhere beautiful and preferably with no one else around, where we can then get out amongst it on legs, bike or kayak. 

So why are we are doing it? Because we haven’t been here before is always our starting reason! Perhaps we got sucked in to the hype of the “Australia’s last great wilderness” tag line. It certainly hasn’t felt like that when you see a vehicle at least very 10 minutes. We can drive though National Parks 2 hours from Sydney and see less traffic. 

So what have been the highlights today? We decided not to drive up to the Michell Plateau to see the falls, but instead splashed out on a plane ride over them. The thought of spending another two days in a car top do a 4 k walk at the end to the Falls didn’t inspire us. The flight was brilliant (well better for me than Catherine who had to take advantage of the sick bags provided when we started circling over the falls). Seeing the country from the air gave us a whole new perspective on the sheer scale of the Kimberley. The pilot was a great guide as well and full of interesting facts on the landscape spread out beneath us. 

We then drove the excruciatingly corrugated 70km out of Drysdale and have found a quiet camp just off the road that we had to ourselves for around 15 minutes, before two camper trailers pulled up. Ah well, its a lovely spot by a water lillied river, surrounded by bird life and even a cow! We would have loved to get the packrafts out, but its still saltie country. Catherine whipped up some walnut damper and we stuck that on the Weber. Fabulous with jam and a Pale Ale! Followed by a pre-made meal from a couple of nights ago – chicken madras curry. 

Tonight’s dinner was accompanied by a smooth as….Leconfield Cab Sav. A couple of episodes of Good Wife on the iPad and then….WE HAVE WATCHED ALL 7 SERIES!!! OMG…what next to pass these dark evenings? 

One Reply to “Day 22: Tuesday 20th Jan: The Truth about the Gibb River Road”

  1. The truth has to be told!
    Hey, it got you in the plane and that must have been pretty special. I hope Mrs A was still able to take some of her brilliant shots (even one-handed without looking?)!

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