The Australian outback is filled with so many incredible off-road routes where you can get away from civilization and really reconnect with nature. But out of all of the different routes available, the Gibb River Road is one of the most iconic.
Many people describe it as the last Australian adventure, and if you want a true sense of the outback in its rawest form, this is the route for you. The picturesque 660-kilometre route takes you through some of the most secluded parts of the northern region of Kimberly.
If you want to drive the full length of the route, you can start in Derby and then pass through Windjana Gorge, Mount Hart Homestead, El Questro Wilderness Park, finishing in Wyndham or Kununurra.
A Guide To Driving The Gibb River Road For The First Time
The Gibb River Road has a reputation as a challenging trail that is only for expert off-roaders. In the past, that used to be the case, but these days, it’s a lot more accessible.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park and you do still need to make sure that you are prepared. If you want a real adventure, here’s everything you need to know about driving the Gibb River Road.
How Long Should You Go For?
If you wanted to drive the entire route from start to finish, you could do it in a day at a push. But if you rush through it, you won’t get to see any of the incredible sights along the way.
Although it all depends on your own itinerary, most people plan an 8-day trip at least. If you have time for a longer trip, it’s definitely worth it because you can relax a little and if you are really enjoying a certain place, you can stop for a bit longer.
When Should You Go?
The best time of year to go depends on how well you can handle the Australian summer while you’re driving. October and November are incredibly hot, and when you are stuck in the car for hours on end, it can be a bit much.
April and May are the transitional periods between the wet and dry season, and the weather is far more moderate in these months, so this is always a good time to go. January and February are the cyclone months, and there is a significant risk of floods, so avoid those months at all costs.
What Are The Roads Like?
Before you go, you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for. If you go between November and April, when the wet season is in full force, some roads are dangerous to drive on and could be closed.
Some road areas are heavily corrugated, so your vehicle must be prepared for a rough ride. You’ll need a 4×4, and it’s a good idea to look at wheel and tyre packages so you can upgrade to something sturdier. If your car isn’t in good shape when you set off on the Gibb River Road, you could find yourself in a challenging position.
Before you go on your trip, make sure that you get your vehicle serviced and make any necessary repairs. Check things like fluids and tyre pressures before setting off and periodically throughout the trip. If you think that there is something wrong with your car, get it looked at and don’t take any chances.
What Should You Pack?
Preparation is key when driving a route like this, so you need to think carefully about what you pack. If you are going in the dry season between May and October, it will be hot, so pack plenty of light clothes to help you keep cool, with a few warm items for the evening. Make sure that you bring something to cover you up and give you some respite from the heat.
If you drive the route between November and April in the wet season, the weather can be incredibly unpredictable, so you need to be prepared for everything. November is boiling hot but also very rainy, so it’s going to be humid. Light mesh clothing designed for safari is a great option when travelling at this time of year.
Food and Water
The Gibb River Road has changed a lot in recent years, and as it has become more popular, more amenities have opened up along the way. For most of the trip, you should find places along the way where you can buy food and water.
However, some places like Windjana Gorge are still very sparsely populated and don’t have any shops. When you travel through these areas, make sure that you stock up on a few days worth of food and water.
It’s best to buy more than you need, just in case anything goes wrong and you get stuck. When you plan the trip, it’s a good idea to map out where all of the supermarkets are so you can easily find supplies.
Bringing spares and equipment to repair your car is vital. Although there are garages along the route where you can get your car fixed, you could break down in the middle of nowhere, and you’ll need to get the car back up and running again so you can make it to the nearest mechanic.
Always pack at least one spare tyre but, if possible, take two just in case. The roads are rough, and the risk of punctures is much higher than on normal roads. Pack some engine oil and brake fluid too, and put a few zip ties in as well. Zip ties are great for quick, temporary repairs that will get you to the nearest mechanic.
Driving the Gibb River Road is a truly amazing experience, and it’s one of the best ways to see the Australian outback in all its glory. But even though it’s a lot more accessible than it used to be, it can still be dangerous, so make sure that you remember everything in this guide when planning your trip.