The Gibb River Road

Western Australia

Also Accessed from the Gibb River road are;

  • Winjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek in the Devonian Reef national park – see blog on the right
  • Mitchell Falls national park – see blog on the right

The Gibb River Road is a highlight of any road trip venturing into to Kimberley region of north western Australia. The Gibb is a 4WD road that connects Derby with Wyndham and Kununurra through the bush, theres plenty of wildlife here so take it easy and keep your eyes out for all sorts of animals crossing the road and birds in the treas. The road is only open during dry season, roughly May to November so check online at (national park website link) or visit the Main Roads website (insert link) or call (phone number). for information on what roads and areas are accessible. Also check maps.me (insert link) for all your walk trail and driving distances. To see all the waterfalls and the country at its best try go as early in the season as possible and try see the sunrise and sunset at as many of your stops as you can. Wildlife activity is best in the early morning or late afternoon as is photographic light, there’s virtually nobody else around and it’s not as hot so more pleasant to walk around and explore. Take a torch and your map though so you don’t get lost if you’re walking when its dark. Along the way are plenty of cattle stations to visit and many beautiful waterfalls and gorges to swim at, below are some of my favourite stops from Derby traveling north east. Make sure you also check out Winjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek and the Mitchell Falls if you’re doing the Gibb, these are all must see destinations!


Bell Gorge is a perfectly beautiful Kimberley style waterfall located on silent grove road about 30kms off the Gibb, the camp ground is 11kms before the gorge parking area. After a short walk you will arrive at the top of the waterfall, head right and follow the trail down below to swim at the base of the waterfall. You can swim downstream through a few more pools to explore even more waterfalls or alternatively walk up around the right hand side or the gorge heading downstream to access the rest of Bell Creek below the falls.

Facilities:

  • Paid overnight camping
  • Hot showers
  • Drinking water
  • Toilets

 

Adcock Falls is another great waterfall accessed just 5kms off the Gibb, it is sign posted but less frequented than the other falls so you might end up having it all to yourselves. From the parking area follow the creek upstream to the falls, this might require crossing the creek a couple of times too but the walk is fairly easy and not too far. When you arrive at the falls you can climb all the way to the top around the right hand side for some awesome views. If your feeling game take the fast way down this 15m or so waterfall but plan your landing well and check the water depth first. There is only a day use area, no camping facilities are provided but further down the road is Manning camp ground and the Mt Barnett Road House.

 Facilities:

  • Day use parking

Galvans Gorge is another day use waterfall with a nice drop of 13m or so for those with courage as well as a smaller 2m ledge and a nice swimming hole. Galvans waterfall is fed by a small creek and doesn’t flow as heavily as the other falls but in my opinion is one of the most beautiful and picturesque. This waterfall has a big swimming hole, a cool rope swing on the right hand side and can be climbed all the way to the top. To get to the top and the highest jump go left around the pool and up the side of the rock wall. This jump sticks out like a small diving board and looks kind of like pride rock for those old enough to have seen “The Lion King”, when you see it you’ll know it was meant to be. Galvans parking area is just 1km off the Gibb and again accessed by following the creek upstream and perhaps crossing over as well.

 Facilities:

  • Day use parking

Manning Falls is a spectacular waterfall and gorge system located on Mt Barnett station, there is a  big swimming hole below the falls and beautiful pools to swim in at the top with “infinity pool” like views. Manning is a great place to watch the sunset as it sets directly behind the falls although the staff try to discourage sunset viewing as it means walking back in the dark so if you plan to check it out bring a good torch and map or maps.me. The camp ground here is also located right on the Manning River which is perfect for a swim after the walk back from the falls. The river is great for birdwatching and you can fish here as well. For this you can walk up along the river banks and you might have to cross over depending on how far you want to go. Its best to start on the opposite side of the river to the camp ground which you can get to in a little dinghy they have there with a rope to pull yourself across. The walk to the falls starts on the far side of the river bank as well and cuts through the bush to join back up with the river just below the waterfall. It takes about an hour and a half to get there and theres no water to cool off in along the way so it can get hot. If you want to camp here you need to pay your camping fees at the Mt Barnett roadhouse located on the Gibb River road. This is pretty much the only place to get petrol along the way so is an obligatory stop for most people. There is another shop and petrol station at the Imintji Aboriginal Community and camp ground too but they were closed when I passed through and were only open 3 days a week I think. Expect to pay hugely inflated prices for any fuel or groceries anywhere outside major towns like Derby or Kununurra which can already be expensive.

Facilities:

  • Paid overnight camping
  • Hot showers
  • Drinking water
  • Toilets
  • Rubbish disposal at the Mt Barnett roadhouse

Scones at Ellenbrae… Its turned into a bit of a thing to stop for tea and fresh scones at Ellenbrae station, the word is out and most people you meet along the way will rave about them. I put this one in for my mum who loved the place, so if your a fan of scones or you just don’t want to miss out on this great Gibb River Road conversation starter pop in and follow the signs down to the homestead. Also a good place to spot crimson finches in the pandanas trees near the small creek crossing.

Facilities:

  • Paid overnight camping and rooms
  • Hot showers
  • Drinking water
  • Toilets
  • SCONES

 

Home Valley Station is the largest cattle station in WA

It’s a nice place to stop before the Pentecost river crossing if you feel like treating yourself after making it this far. They have a fairly pricey restaurant, but the portion sizes are good and there is live music there most nights of the week. There’s also a swimming pool and small shop and 2 campgrounds one of which is down by the Pentecost river. The river campground is a great place to watch the sunset and to throw a line in to fish for barramundi, you can check at reception for a tide chart too so you can fish on the changing of the tides as this section of the river is closer to the coast and affected a little by the tides. When I stayed, I camped at the top campground near the homestead where there’s less mosquitos and drove down to the river for fishing and sunsets. There are a lot of other activities to do here too and places to fish but most of them the station require you to pay and take one of their guides. The Pentecost river crossing just down the road is probably the most photographed river in all of WA, it’s very picturesque and worth doing around sunset if you want to get some nice photos, sunrise isn’t too bad either. The Cockburn ranges on the other side are spectacular.

Facilities:

  • Paid overnight camping and rooms
  • Hot showers
  • Drinking water
  • Toilets
  • Swimming pool
  • Restaurant
  • Guided tours

 

El Questro station was one of the first in the kimberley to shift their focus to tourism and is world famous. The roads from Kununurra to here have been bituminised so its easy access and there are a few more people that come here. Most of them however aren’t going to be up really early or anything like that though so you can still have places to yourself, except the restaurants of course where most of them hang out. There are a lot of beautiful and unique gorges to see here so definitely check it out.


 

Zebede springs is the one you’ll want to visit first or as early in the morning as possible, its about 10km down the ELQ road from the Gibb and about 14km from the homestead. This natural hot spring is beautiful to swim in with plenty of small pools, its all nicely shaded icy a forrest of tropical palms and really is unique. The reason you want to go early is because at 12 they close the area again so all the tour busses can have it to themselves but at least this keeps them away in the morning and if you go there first thing you can probably have the place to yourself too. They have a gate there which is locked outside of its opening hours and we had to wait for the ranger to come open it who was late of course so check opening times before you go.


 

Amalia Gorge is closest to the Gibb/ELQ turnoff just 7km and 17km from the homestead, this is a really nice gorge with a cool walk to a huge waterfall at the end. You walk all the way upstream along the Amalia creek, the nice cool deep pool at the end of the walk is great to cool off in after the walk. There are also some nice cascades along the way to stop and cool off in. Its possible to climb up the right hand side of the rock through the bush at the final waterfall to get a really nice view of the waterfall and the valley below that you’ve just walked through.


The Chamberlain river gorge is another nice gorge its more open and there are a couple of good fishing spots here. Be careful if you plan on going in the water though, some friends of mine were kayaking here and had their kayak rolled over by a big croc. If you keep a look out here you might be lucky and see one.


Emma gorge is another spectacular waterfall so much so that it has restaurant and accomodation next to the car park, its definitely worth seeing though despite this. Emma is 12km down past the ELQ turn off towards Kununurra. This gorge walk is very pretty with some nice pools along the creek, before you reach the waterfall you walk through a shady green section and come out to view the tall falls and a beautiful swimming hole. The rock walls are very high on all sides and the lower section discovered in ferns, watered by the trickling water that drips down from above over half of the swimming hole like rain. The water is very cold and the pool is only in sunshine for a short time every day when the sun is overhead, and is great for photography.

ELQ Facilities:

  • Paid overnight camping and rooms
  • Hot showers
  • Drinking water
  • Toilets
  • Restaurant
  • Scenic flights
  • Guided tours

After doing the Gibb you should end up in either Derby or Kununurra (see right side links) both of which are good places to take a break and have plenty to see in their own rights. Once again thanks for reading, check out the rest of the blog for more information on other destinations all around Australia and most importantly make sure you get out there and see it for yourself.