4WD Crossing Pentacost River The Complete Guide to Driving The Gibb River Road in Western Australia
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The Complete Guide to Driving The Gibb River Road in Western Australia

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Thinking of driving the Gibb River Road but don’t know where to start? Is the Gibb River Road open right now and what is the best time to drive the Gibb River Road anyway? What condition is the Gibb River Road in now? What do I need to pack for the Gibb River Road? Where is the Gibb River Road?

There are plenty of questions to ask yourself when planning your Gibb River Road trip. After our recent experience on the Gibb River Road we decided to sit down and answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Everything you wanted to know about driving through the heart of the Kimberley region via the Gibb River Road Western Australia.

Where Is the Gibb River Road?

The Gibb River Road is one of Australia’s classic outback experiences and an iconic off-road adventure in northwest Australia. The Gibb River Road is the name of an old stock road that connects the town of Kununurra near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and Derby a coastal town in the northwest of WA. One of the most remote outback routes in Western Australia the rough dirt track takes travelers through the heart of the rugged and sparsely populated Kimberley region. The Kimberley is a vast wilderness of arid savannah that features rocky ranges, stunning gorges and plunging waterfalls.

When Is the Best Time to Go on the Gibb River Road?

The Gibb River Road is only open from May to October each year coinciding with the dry season, making this the best and only time to visit the Gibb River Road. If you can align your Gibb River Road trip with the beginning of the dry season, you will be rewarded with less corrugated roads and more spectacular waterfalls. There is, however, a price to pay for early access, high creek crossings mean you will need a capable four wheel drive equipped with a snorkel and a recovery kit.

We visited at the end of June and the waterfalls were still running and the creek crossings were low. The road was in ok condition, but still corrugated and rough in sections especially at either end of the route.

Cockburn Ranges Look is one of the best Gibb River Road free camping spots
The views driving on the Gibb River Road are simply amazing!

How Many Days to Drive the Gibb River Road?

How long is a piece of string? Driving the Gibb River Road can be as short or as long as you want. The time required to drive the Gibb River Road in WA depends on how long you have and what you want to see. We recommend spending a minimum of five days, but many spend two or more weeks taking their time to experience all this special region has to offer.

The entire length of the Gibb River Road from the Kununurra Visitor’s Center to the Derby Visitor’s Center is 707 km but that does not include any side trips to any of the Gibb River Road attractions off the beaten path.

Do I Need My Own Car to Drive the Gibb River Road?

Are There Any Gibb River Road Car Hire Companies?

If you want to drive the Gibb River Road without actually driving to the Gibb River Road you are in luck. There are a handful of car rental hire companies where you can rent a 4WD with all of the bells and whistles that you need to complete this remote, outback adventure. Most car hires will need to be arranged from either Broome or Darwin both accessible by domestic airports.

Here is a list of the best Gibb River Road 4wd hire companies:

Check prices on campers and 4WDs touch, digital, icon-6602643.jpg

Are There Any Gibb River Road Tours?

If you can’t or don’t want to self-drive the Gibb River Road it is possible to hop aboard a multi-day Gibb River Road tour. Tours range from half-day tours to the gorges of El Questro starting at around $150 to fully inclusive 16-day tours that begin and end in either, Broome, Derby, or Kununurra which cost up to $15,000.

There are plenty of tour operators including:

Is the Gibb River Road Sealed?

No.

The Gibb River Road is sealed from the Kununurra turn off to approximately 15 kilometers until you reach the Pentecost River. From this point on it is mainly unsealed, however, you will find sections of bitumen which is a nice, albeit brief respite from the otherwise relentless corrugation.

Heading west, the road becomes bitumen again approximately 120 kilometers out from Derby.

How Can I Find Out if the Gibb River Road Is Open or Closed?

The most up-to-date information on whether the Gibb River Road is open or closed can be found on the WA Main Roads Travel Map.

How Can I Find Out the Gibb River Road Condition?

The best way to find out the Gibb River Road condition is by accessing the Road Condition Report published by the Shire of Wyndham in East Kimberley. This provides the most up-to-date information on the condition of the road.

Another place to find road condition information is the visitor’s center in Derby or Kununurra where staff can provide additional insight.

You can also seek input from other travelers who may have recently been along the Gibb. Take this information, however, for what it is worth. Everyone has their own opinion on what rough road condition means. We prepared for worse road conditions than we experienced based on the reports of other travelers.

Are There Any Gibb River Road Water Crossings?

Yes.

The Gibb River Road is probably most recognizable by the hero shot of the Pentecost River crossing backdropped by the Cockburn Range. While this river crossing is the largest of all of the water crossings, there are dozens of other creek crossings of varying levels along the Gibb River Road. These water crossings can be small puddles to deep creek crossings requiring a snorkel (if you want to visit El Questro Gorge).

4WD Crossing Pentacost River The Complete Guide to Driving The Gibb River Road in Western Australia
The Pentecost River crossing is the largest of tall of the river crossings on the Gibb!

Is It Possible to Drive the Gibb River Road with a 2wd?

Yes, but we personally wouldn’t recommend it.

It is advisable to travel the Gibb River Road with a four-wheel drive. You probably won’t have to engage your 4WD much (if any) along the Gibb River Road. Nevertheless, the high clearance and tough suspension of a four-wheel drive will ensure a safer and more comfortable trip. Plus a four-wheel drive will allow you to access more attractions via 4wd tracks as well as less accessible campsites.

Is It Possible to Drive the Gibb River Road with a Caravan?

A rusted caravan on the Gibb River Road
This caravan unfortunately did not survive the Gibb!

It is possible, though we wouldn’t personally.

While we wouldn’t attempt to tow a caravan down the Gibb River Road, there are plenty of caravans getting about. If you do plan on bringing your caravan, an off-road caravan is advised as these are designed to handle bumps and rattles more so than standard caravans.

What if I Break Down? Is There a Mechanic Along the Gibb River Road?

Changing a tire while driving the Gibb River Road
It is always wise to bring a few spare tires on the Gibb River Road!

Probably a question you hope not to need the answer to, but one that is important to know.

The rough road can lead to a variety of mechanical issues, but the overwhelming problem out here is shredding tyres on the sharp rocks of this notorious road, which is, at points, littered with the former tyres of caravans and cars.

We shredded one tyre, ironically while we were giving a lift to another traveler who had shredded two of his tyres all within the same 40-kilometer stretch of road.

Most stations along the Gibb River Road offer tyre repair and basic ‘bush’ mechanic work. Over the Range Tyre & Mechanical Repairs about halfway along the Gibb River Road is the only dedicated mechanic on the Gibb River Road.

As always, we recommend carrying important spare parts to assist in getting you back on the road quicker. Check out our Gibb River Road packing list for all of the spare parts we carry with us on any remote, outback adventure!

Where Can I Get a Gibb River Road Map?

The best Gibb River Road map is the HEMA map which can be purchased at the visitor’s center in Kununurra and Derby or online.

Where Are the Gibb River Road Fuel Stations?

Mt. Barnett Roadhouse on the Gibb River Road trip
Mt. Barnett Roadhouse is one of the Gibb River Road fuel stops

Gibb River Road fuel stops can be found at the various roadhouses. Diesel and petrol can be reliably found at El Questro and Mt. Barnett Roadhouse. Diesel can also be found at the Gibb River Station and Ijiminti but they were closed when we traveled through. 

Drysdale Station on the Kalumburu Road heading towards Mitchell Falls and the northern section of the Kimberly also advertise diesel and petrol.

What Are Gibb River Road Fuel Prices Like?

When we traveled the Gibb River Road in June 2021, fuel prices along the Gibb River Road were between $1.80 and $2.05 per liter.

Prices in Kunawarra and Broome were between $1.50 per liter and $1.60 per liter, so expect to pay between 13% and 35% more per liter.

Are There Any Supplies on the Gibb River Road?

Yes.

While many of the roadhouses offer limited supplies, the best place to find supplies on the Gibb River Road is at Mt. Barnett Roadhouse. Mt. Barnett Roadhouse has the largest selection of non-perishables as well as a few freezer options.

Is There Any Free Camping on The Gibb River Road?

Camping on the Hann River GIbb River Road The Complete Guide to Driving The Gibb River Road in Western Australia
One of the best spots camping on the Gibb River Road at Hann River!

Yes!

There is no need to pay for accommodation along the Gibb River Road unless you want a few more extra luxuries. In fact, one of our favorite camping spots in WA was along the banks of Hann River on the Gibb River Road.

Check out our Gibb River Road itinerary for the best Gibb River Road free camping spots as well as other Gibb River Road accommodation options!

What’s the Weather Like on Gibb River Road?

Hot and dry.

In the dry season, when the Gibb River Road is open, the weather is extremely stable and predictable with hot clear days in the low to mid 30s and cooler nights between 15 and 20 degrees.

What Do I Need to Pack for Driving the Gibb River Road?

With any remote destination being prepared is half the battle. The supplies along the Gibb River Road are limited, so making sure you have enough provisions for your entire journey is important. From food to safety gear to camping gear and even recovery gear, we can think of a laundry list of items to pack for the Gibb River Road. 

Check out our complete Gibb River Road essentials packing list!

Where Can I Find the Gibb River Road Gorges?

Manning Gorge is easily the best Gibb River Gorge to visit
Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at the stunning Manning Gorge!

Many of the Gibb River Road gorges can be found between Gibb River Station and Phillips Range, a 100 kilometer stretch toward the middle section of the Gibb River Road. If you are following our Gibb River Road camping itinerary, then you will see a majority of these on Day 3 along with many other great Gibb River Road attractions. 

Our favorite Gibb River Road gorges include:

  • Barnett Gorge
  • Manning Gorge
  • Galvin’s Gorge
  • Bell Gorge

Where Can I Find the Gibb River Road Waterfalls?

Just like the gorges, many of the Gibb River Road waterfalls are found on the stretch of road between the Gibb River Station and the Phillips Range. Our favorite waterfall and maybe one of the best Gibb River Road attractions of all is Manning Falls. This stunning oasis is a nice reprise from the dust and heat you will experience on the Gibb.

Mitchell Falls is also a popular waterfall to visit while driving the Gibb River Road, however, this requires a significant detour of 250km off the Gibb further north into the Kimberley.

What Is the Gibb River Road Bike Challenge?

The Gibb Challenge is a team relay mountain bike adventure on the Gibb River Road raising money for community awareness and the charity partner of choice for the year. Groups of 2-6 rally together to raise a minimum of $1,000 to participate in the challenge and become a Gibbster.

The cost for each individual rider to compete is $600 which includes meals, camping, wilderness park fees, and an event riding jersey. The challenge starts in the town of Derby and crosses the 660-kilometer Gibb River Road to El Questro located near Kununurra.

So if driving the Gibb River Road is not for you, then consider joining this amazing community of riders to experience the remote Gibb River Road in Western Australia.

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So, are you ready to drive the Gibb River Road? Do you know all there is to know about driving the Gibb River Road and planning the adventure of a lifetime? Is there something we forgot that you are dying to know? Let us know in the comments below!

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