It has a reputation for destroying tyres and totally wrecking caravans. Such is the 660km long Gibb River Road in northern Western Australia. A road trip not to be undertaken lightly but one high on the bucket list of many seeking a great outback adventure.
It’s a trip that encapsulates the real sense of Australia. People overseas will ask, where is the best place in Australia to visit. If you want to feel like home, I would suggest, the urbanised coastal regions offer a more comfortable and western familiar destination. After all, a modern shopping mall is the same no matter what part of the world.
But Australia’s outback is indeed unique. And the Gibb River Road is one such example.
The question we had before embarking on the journey, was it a certificate trip or more for the experience. In reality, yes there is that sense of adventure and achievement… and you can buy a “I Did The Gibb River Road” certificate in Derby! But more so, is the access the road offers to many unique parts of Australia’s outback. The road itself, is in general, quite barren and featureless. But it’s what the road opens up to that reveals the unique part of this country.
The majestic gorges, pristine swimming holes, waterfalls, experiencing the natural surrounds bush camping on the edge of a river, sitting back in your camp chair with a glass of wine as the sunset casts a brilliant orange tinge over the horizon. Feeling the rich star filled night sky drenched only in the soft glow of it’s Milky Way, as if generously painted across the sky. Then snuggling into bed after a refreshing camp shower while basking in natural moon light. Waking in the morning as you peer out through the canvas window to be a greeted by a magnificent sunrise, followed by the delicious smell of cooking damper bread in the coals of the campfire from the prior evening. Another day of adventure then awaits.
Some of the best experiences are however not planned. They happen by chance. Like the corroboree we came across where local indigenous clans had come together to share their story telling and dances.
We set off stocked up with food, extra water and fuel and a second spare tyre especially mounted for the trip. None of these reserves we had to draw on. There’s adequate access to water and fuel along the way. We came across a few Gibb tragedies, one a broken suspension, where fortunately with a few of us by now under the caravan were able to help the family on their way thanks to a simple fix using a socket set extension bar to replace the snapped bolt, another temporarily refastening a dangling oil cooler that had broken loose, as well someone’s tyre which suffered a direct hit with a chisel shaped rock. But Luck must have been with us, as we managed what was often gruelling road conditions, unscathed except for a just couple very minor issues.
The bottom line: Just do it!