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  • Danieka Strathdee

Gibb River Road Trip in Western Australia: Travel Guide

The Gibb River Road in Western Australia is a paradise for thrill-seekers, giving 660km of rough, off-road adventure and river crossings through the centre of the Kimberley region. With its stunning gorges, driving the Gibb River Road should be enjoyed by anyone wanting to indulge in the great outdoors. If you are planning a tour along Kimberley's Gibb River Road, here's what you have to be aware of to make the most of your journey based on my experience and with images!


About the Kimberley Gibb River Road: What you'll need to know

This rugged and remote road takes you on an adventure through some of the most stunning and pristine landscapes in the Kimberley, including popular gorges, bushland, riverbanks, and rolling hills. With its rich Indigenous history, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking scenery, the Gibb River Road is the ultimate four wheel drive road trip. It connects Derby in the west to Kununurra or Wyndham in the east.

What is the best time of the year to do the Gibb River Road?

The best time to drive the Gibb River Road in Kimberley is from May to September when the weather is dry and road conditions are at their best. I went in June and it was perfect (very hot) but great conditions. During this time, the landscapes are at their most vibrant, and the gorges and waterfalls are flowing. However, it's also important to be mindful of bushfire conditions during this time, as the region can become extremely hot (40+ degrees) and dry.

Time and distances: How long does it take to drive the Gibb River Road?

You can either gun it within a week or take the scenic route, which is what I'd suggest. The ideal timeframe is two/three weeks, so you have time to explore the gorges and enjoy the many scenic trails. While it can be done in less than a week, you would miss a lot of the key attractions that are definitely worth the visit! Some travellers we met had been on the Gibb River Road for a few months even.

Gibb River Road route (self-drivers)

The Gibb River Road Australia runs from Derby to Kununurra, with several adventure attractions and sights to see along the way. Some of the must-see attractions include the stunning Mitchell Falls, Windjana Gorge, Bell Gorge, and Manning Gorge. It's also a good idea to explore some of the remote cattle stations along the way, as well as the Indigenous rock art and culture in the area.

The Gibb River Road map (Image source – Kimberley Gibb River Road map)

Gibb River Road map

Do you need a 4WD to do the Gibb River Road? And, does your car need a snorkel to do the Gibb River Road?

The Gibb River Road is a rugged, off-road track that requires a 4WD vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition, and consider equipping it with additional fuel and water tanks, as well as a camping kit, to make your journey as comfortable as possible. A snorkel for your vehicle can also be useful in case of flooding, a roof rack can be useful for carrying gear, and solar panels are definitely helpful. We met a lot of people waiting on parts at stations for their cars because there was limited stock or the correct tyres that they needed. Another good thing to have handy is a power bank if you want to charge your devices not through your car.

Gibb River Road conditions

The Gibb River Road is a remote, off-road track that can become impassable during the wet season (typically from November to April). It's important to check road conditions and weather updates before embarking on your journey, as heavy rainfall can make the road slippery and difficult to navigate. The road is also prone to flooding, so it's important to be prepared for sudden changes in conditions. There was flooding when we went, and we had to take some diversions.

Cell service is not a thing and there's no Wifi

Plan ahead, make sure you have a hard copy of the map for the Gibb River Road and your travel route. Use Google Maps and DOWNLOAD the area beforehand, so that it's on your phone if you need it. There's no cell service on the Gibb River Road, and no Wifi either (except for a little at El Questro, but it doesn't extend to the camps).

Fuel on the Gibb River Road: Plan ahead!

It's important to be well-prepared before driving the Gibb River Road. Plan your fuel stops, as petrol stations are few and far between. Carry plenty of food, water, and supplies, as well as a first aid kit, GPS, and communication device eg, radio. It's also a good idea to carry a spare tyre, jack, and tools in case of a breakdown.

Our route! Gibb River Road itinerary (2-3 weeks)

We met my sister in Kununurra, so we started there. Our route was slightly different, and we maximised on trails to see the natural beauty!

Start in Kununurra, Western Australia

  • Lake Argyle day trip or camp overnight and do the sunset cruise

  • Hikes: Secret Springs and Mirima National Park

  • Good fun: Ivanhoe River crossing

  • Tip: make sure you stock up before you hit the road on fuel and food!

These pictures are at the Secret Springs – such an incredible hike and beautiful gorges.

El Questro

  • Camp: Book a private campsite, it comes with a shared toilet

  • Sunset must do! Pigeon Hole

  • Hikes: Emma Gorge – do it on the way to El Questro, easy hike and amazing water. Find the hot spring on the right hand corner! Zebedee Springs and also Amalia Gorge.

  • Tip: Fuel, shop, food and bar here!

Pentecost River Crossing

  • Iconic photo shoot with the Cockburn Ranges in the background

  • Try your luck at fishing for a barramundi but watch for salt water crocodiles!

Drysdale River Station

  • Campsite: Drysdale River Station, no need to book an unpowered site but get there before 5 pm (showers and washing machines).

  • Nothing to see, just a stop to leave a camper before driving to Mitchell Falls (if conditions are rough). We did this because there had been some flooding when we went.

  • Tip: Basic shop and bar/food, as well as fuel and ice.

King Edward River

  • Alternative camp to leave a camper.

  • Lovely swimming spot and waterfall.

  • Make sure you do the King Edward River Munurru’s Rock Art Indigenous art walk on the way to Michell Falls, it's incredible.

Mitchell Falls! A MUST!!

  • Camp: Book ahead on the Parks and Wildlife National Park website, it can get busy!

  • Book a helicopter 18min flight up to the falls and spend all day walking back to camp (at a cost, but awesome experience and views). You can see the crocodiles from the sky in the water, pretty awesome!

**Wouldn't recommend camping here** Charnley River

  • Charnley River is a long way off the Gibb so probably give it a miss if you don’t have time

  • Galvans Gorge: Do Galvans as you drive past as it's right on the Gibb Road

  • Other great stops! Adcock Gorge and Manning River

Mt Barnett Station (we didn't stay here but great as a base to explore Manning Gorge)

  • Camp and use as a base to explore Manning Gorge (wear shoes for the hike (unlike me) I broke my toe and it was a pain for the rest of the trip)

  • Book pass at the store before going to the camp

  • Tip: Best stocked shop on the Gibb, Fuel

Silent Grove

  • Book directly

  • Good spot: Bells Gorge

  • Tip: Explore/climb past the main pool keep going until you find a secret waterfall right around the corner – most people don’t know about it!

**Wouldn't recommend camping here** Mount Hart Station

  • Good spots: Sunset hill

  • Tip: Long drive in off the Gibb so give it a miss if you don’t have time

Windjana Gorge

  • Campsite: book on the Department of Parks and Wildlife National Park website

  • Go see the crocs in the morning as they soak up in the sun or in the afternoon (no swimming)

  • Drive to Tunnel Creek from here if you are staying

Tunnel Creek (swim through!)

  • Good day trip only 30mins from Windjana Gorge, definitely recommend! You can see the crocs as you swim through.

  • Tip: Bring a better flashlight than we did, ours had died! Head torch recommended otherwise you'll be swimming one handed like me (holding up the torch with the other), as well as a dry bag as you swim through because it's pretty deep in parts. Shoes are a good idea as it's rocky in some parts and you come out on the other side of the tunnel and can explore the rocks.

Cape Leveque

  • Campsite: Kooljaman (showers) – no fires unless you have a private camp site

  • Nice beach to relax

Apart from that, enjoy your journey and safe travels!



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