Gibb River Road Conditions
Gibb River Road conditions depend on the time of year, and the completion of maintenence grading work. Travel is only recommended once the road has been graded after the wet season (around May) until the end of October.
The Gibb River Road is a dirt/gravel road which is formed 2 lanes wide. A bitumen section of the Gibb River road leading out of Derby, was recently extended all the way to Kimberley Diamond Mine. In addition most of the winding sections of road passing over the ranges are bitumenised, and nearly all the creek and river crossings have concrete bottoms. There is ample signage warning you of upcoming bends, cattle, creek crossings, tourist destinations,and roadhouses. Some areas of the Gibb River Road are hilly and rocky, some are soft with bull dust, but the majority of sections have been upgraded in the last couple of years and are in relatively good condition. The Gibb River Road has improved dramatically in the past few years. Most tourists travel the Gibb River road in 4 wheel drives (often towing trailors or caravans), campervans, or large tour buses. The locals travel the road in anything from tray back utes with 3 dogs on the back, to commodore station wagons. High clearance robust vehicles (4 wheel drive) are recommend throughout. Vehicles should be well equipped with at least 2 spare tyres, water and emergency provisions. Large sections of the road are unfenced so beware of wandering livestock & roadtrains. Vehicles should be in 1st class condition.
"Fill er up mate, and while your at it give the horns and trotters a quick buff n' polish..."
Click Here for: Information on the Kulumburu & Mitchell Plateau Roads
If you would like to do a (very!) quick virtual tour of the Gibb River Road to see the kind of road conditions and type of scenery you will be travelling through please click on the link immediately below;
Click Here For: Photos Of Driving The Gibb River Road (Virtual tour)
If you would like to take a look at some photos of the kind of scenery along the Gibb River Road please click on the link immediately below;
Click Here For: Photos Of Scenery Along the Gibb River Road
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
Depending on the wet season the Gibb River road is officially opened some time between mid April and mid May. Main Roads Western Australia only opens the road after they have inspected it. The rivers at the crossings must have dropped low enough that with caution vehicles can drive across safely. Any real problem areas like wash outs are also quickly fixed with what is known as an 'opening grade' .
Once Main Roads feel the road is reasonably safe to traverse, they open the road, by this time the graders will be working to do a full grade of all the road. Be aware that even though the road may be ' open' caution is still required prior to the full grade being completed.
Gibb River Road conditions improve dramatically after grading is complete. Normally from this time onwards the Gibb River road is great to travel on, usually with hardly any corrugation or washouts. During the peak tourist season (June-August) when the corrugations get bad because of the amount of traffic, a maintenence grade is done to rectify the situation, before it becomes too extreme. Similarly later in the season between August-November another maintenence grade is done to improve the road conditions and help prepare it for the upcoming wet season. The tourism season usually finishes around the end of October and most accommodation & service providers along the road close down in preparation for the wet season. Travelling in the Kimberley in November is not reccommended due to the extremely high temperatures, bushfires and humidity at this time. Travel between Janurary till April/May (during the wet season) is also definately not recommended due to the heavy, unpredictable rains which make creek crossings impassable, and the road conditions are extremely slippery and dangerous. Did you know that if you drive on the Gibb River Road before main Roads have officially opened the road, and the 'road closed' signs are still up you can get fined $1000 per axle and your insurance is void.
To find out if the Gibb River Road is open or not and for an update on road conditions:
Telephone- 1800 013 314
Click Here For: Current Kimberley Road Condition Report
* Be self sufficent - have your vehicle thoroughly checked prior to departure by a competent mechanic with specific attention to battery mountings and tyres.
* Tool kits, puncture repair kit, at least 2 spare tyres, and high lift jack are essential.
* There are no speed signs on the Gibb River Road, but the official speed limit is 110km. On some long stretches of the road you may be tempted to put your foot down on the accelerator. But remember you are not familiar with the road, and at high speeds the road can change very suddenly. So don't be a fool & endanger your life or your passengers life - you need to travel at a safe speed (between 60 - 110km per hour) and keep enough distance between yourself and the car in front.
* If you are too close to vehicles in front of you dust from the car in front will seriously limit your vision.
* Speeding through sections of cattle country is dangerous as there are often cows wandering across the road, or on the side of the road that can run out at the last minute.
* Caution is required at natural creek crossings - drive slowly through them to reduce erosion and silting of downstream areas.
* You need to watch out for cars, and road trains coming in the opposite direction - when you see a roadtrain it is advisable to pull over and let it pass.
* Keep an eye out for cars trying to overtake you from behind - make an effort to slow down and pull over slightly to the left so it is easier for them to pass you.
* You often see cyclists on the Gibb River Road as well - you should slow down whilst you pass them (so as not to cover them in dust).
Click Here For: More Information on Safely Driving the Gibb River Road: Roadwise
GORGE & STATION ACCESS ROADS
The gorge and station Access roads are graded around the same time as the Gibb River Road after the wet season (April/May). They are not always as wide as the Gibb River Road, and depending on how often they are graded can deteriorate quite rapidly during the peak tourist season. Please do not enter private station roads, that do not provide camping/accommodation. Respect the privacy of pastoralists and communities. This is their area and their livelihood. You should seek the property owners permission before using their tracks.
KIMBERLEY TRAVEL TIPS
* In case of vehicle breakdown stay with your vehicle.
* Take extreme care if you are travelling later in the year around November during bush fire season. Do not light fires if it is windy or there is a high chance of fire danger. Try to use places already cleared to make campfires and ensure the fire can be completely extinguished with water or soil.
* Gas stoves are recommended, if you are camping.
* Always carry sufficent food and water
* Please camp in designated areas. Aim to leave campsites better than you found them - pick up rubbish left by irresponsible visitors. Note: Making circles of rocks around a fire is dangerous - some rocks explode when heated, and 'rock circles' left in the middle of camp carparks are a risk to vehicles. It is an urban myth that you need a rock circle to have a fire, all you need is a wide clear area.
* Take all rubbish with you - you can dispose of it at central rubbish points located in town, or at the roadhouses, campgrounds and station-stays. Do not bury garbage, it takes years to break down and is often dug up and spread by animals.
* There are many culturally significant sites in the Kimberley - these sites are important to all Australians - please do not touch rock art, remove any artefacts, or interfere with any plants or animals.
* Washing up detergent and soap should not enter main watercourses, as it effects the habitats of animals and plants. Wash dishes and yourself at least 50 metres from a watercourse.
* Cash is necessary - Credit card and EFTPOS facilities are minimal.
* Fishing - take only what you need. Size and bag limits apply. Contact Fisheries WA for more information.
* Bury feaces and toilet paper at least 10cm deep in the ground using a spade or trowel to dispose of it fully.
* Take care in crocodile areas. Fresh water crocodiles are relatively harmless, but you should treat all crocodiles over 1.5 metres with great caution(even if they are fresh water crocs). The main swimming holes and rivers around the station-stays, gorges and campgrounds along the Gibb River Road are 'land locked' which means they do not have any saltwater crocs in them, so you can swim at all of these locations safely. Except for Windjana Gorge - swimming is not recommended here due to the number of fresh water crocs. Salt water crocodiles are extremely dangerous and can be found some distance upstream of fresh water rivers and estauries with a salt water inlet. General rule of thumb: If there is barrumundi in the river - there are normally salt water crocodiles. You should not swim or use a small boat/canoe in estauries, tidal rivers, or mangrove shores, especially around Derby, Wyndham, Walsh Point (Mitchell Plateau) and Kununurra.