Skipping the Gibb River Road

I still fight the compulsion to see everything when I travel.

It’s like a little twinge inside of me, a spark that gets my mind racing to figure out how we can justify going out of our way to do it all.

For example, Purnululu National Park, better known as the Bungle Bungles: a national park in northern WA accessible via a rough 4WD track. The track is only 50km long, but takes upwards of 2 hours.

Did I want to see the unusual striped rock domes of the Bungle Bungles? Yes.

Did I want to spend 4+ hours on a horrible road to get there and back? No, I did not.

Hidden Valley National Park

A compromise: Hidden Valley National Park in Kununurra, known as the ‘mini-Bungles’.

We skipped the Bungle Bungles, and it was this same logic that led us to skip the Gibb River Road, a 660km 4WD track through the Kimberley. It’s an alternate route to Broome, notorious for its rough surfaces that have shredded many a tire and put campervans out of commission.

I wanted to see the rumored beauty of the Kimberley’s remote regions, but what I wanted even more was to avoid horrible dirt roads.

We took the sealed highway through Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing, and I do not regret it one iota because there was still so much we did see.

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle was created by the damming of the Ord River in 1972. It’s a massive reservoir of water that is said to contain 35,000 freshwater crocs. That’s all very interesting I’m sure, but the real drawcards for me were the infinity pool and $7 Matso’s beers at the bar.

Lake Argyle pool sunset

Random kid enjoys the sunset and somehow manages to not freeze to death.

Lake Argyle infinity pool blue

Photo of my one and only swim into the frigid water.

Wyndham

We went to Wyndham on a whim. True, there wasn’t heaps to do, but the caravan park was nice and there was a big croc. I call it a win(dham).

big crocodile statue in Wyndham

The big croc, or at least a big croc.

Lookout Wyndham

Fiver rivers lookout, where (you guessed it) five rivers converge.

El Questro

Right at the beginning of the Gibb, before it turns to gravel, is El Questro. It’s a privately owned wilderness park less than an hour from Kununurra. Rather than pay a fortune to stay at a dusty campground, we got a 24-hour permit and took a day trip.

El Questro Emma Gorge

Hiking to Emma Gorge.

Emma Gorge waterfall

Emma Gorge waterfall, where Jared’s shorts don’t quite manage to blend into the background.

El Questro gorge halfway point

One of my all-time favorite hikes: El Questro gorge, where you have to wade through water and climb over this boulder.

Woman swims in El Questro waterfall

The end point of the El Questro hike didn’t blow my mind, but I’d do it again.

Jared at Zebedee Springs

This picture makes me laugh every time.

El Questro waterfall pictures

Promotional poster for Zebedee Springs vs. the reality of ‘relaxing’ directly under a waterfall

Mimbi Caves

The caves are part of the ancient Devonian Reef system, and you can only visit them on a tour run by the local Gooniyandi people. The caves were interesting, but my favorite part was sitting in front of the campfire, listening to our guide sing songs he’d written.

Mimbi Caves Kimberley Australia

Feeling small in Mimbi caves.

Camper trailer set up

Larrawa station stay, where we were woken in the night by a WILD BRUMBY neighing next to the tent. Amazing.

Did we see it all? Of course not, but by the time we got to Broome I didn’t feel like I’d missed a thing.

Planning a trip? Here are some tips:

  • You can visit El Questro, Wyndham, and Lake Argyle on day trips from Kununurra (though not on the same day)
  • We purchased the El Questro visitors permit ($12pp for 24 hours) from the visitors centre in Kununurra
  • We booked our Mimbi Caves tour ($80pp) at the Halls Creek visitor centre but you can also do it online.
  • We spent two days getting from Wyndham to Derby with a one-night stop at Larrawa Station ($10pp, hot showers and drinking water but no power)
  • People recommended that we stop at Tunnel Creek and Windjama Gorge, which is part of a ‘tourist loop’ section of the Gibb near Derby. We couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm so we passed, but it’s worth looking into if you want a taste of the Gibb.
Skipping the Gibb River Road: Lateral Movements Blog

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