Gibb River Road Essentials: The Ultimate Packing List

Gibb River Road Essentials: The Ultimate Packing List

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Discover exactly what to need to pack with our Gibb River Road Essentials List.

The Gibb River Road, Western Australia, takes adventurers from Kununurra, near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, 700 kilometers through the rugged Kimberley region to Derby where the west coast of Australia meats the Indian Ocean.

The Kimberley is an impressive expanse of Australian outback wilderness. Arid plains are interrupted at regular intervals by red rock escarpments, plunging gorges, stunning waterfalls, and meandering rivers. The Gibb River Road will reward travelers with some of Western Australia’s most iconic and beautiful spots.

But, completing this challenging off-road and outback adventure is no Sunday drive. Rough dirt tracks, vast distances, and few people or services make negotiating the Kimberley a formidable overland adventure. To successfully navigate this iconic Australian off-road trip, careful planning and preparation are key. We have put together a list of Gibb River Road essentials to help you start planning your own off road adventure.

Planning Your Gibb River Road Packing List

*If you find this packing list helpful and need to purchase something from the list, consider following the Amazon links in the article, it won’t cost you any more and will help support the blog!

Preparing to attempt the Gibb River Road requires a little more pre-planning than your average road trip. Taking the time to make sure you are adequately prepared will help make for a smoother trip when something inevitably goes wrong.

With limited phone reception and very sparsely populated outside the handful of cattle stations and roadhouses that crop up every hundred kilometers or so, travelers need to be completely self-sufficient and prepared for any and every eventuality.

A well-thought-out packing list including all the necessary spare parts, recovery kit, safety gear, camping gear, first aid kit, and some entertainment items could be the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a regrettable disaster.

Your packing list will be dependent on your intended trip so begin by plotting out your journey. Plan your route carefully taking into consideration fuel and supply stops (and contingency plans if those stops are closed or without supplies). Consider distances and terrain and calculate fuel, supply, and water needs. Next, draw up your own Gibb River Road essentials checklist using ours as a guide.

Our Gibb River Road essentials checklist is by no means exhaustive but gives an idea of the basics that might be required on a short excursion along the Gibb River Road. You can use it to build your own checklist informed by your plans along the Gibb River Road.

Gibb River Road Essentials: Spare Parts and Mechanical

A woman on the phone with her 4wd on the Gibb River Road. Gibb River Road Essentials.
Remote and sparsely populated, having the right parts and tools is essential on the Gibb River Road.
  • Spare fuel
    • If you stick relatively close to the Gibb River Road, there are no hiccups (like closed fuel stations) and you are conscientious about filling up at every available opportunity, you can make the drive on a standard fuel tank without taking extra fuel. However, if you plan to get stuck into some tracks off the main road, head to remote destinations, or if you just like to err on the side of caution, taking a jerry can (or two) of spare fuel is recommended.
  • Drive belts
  • Radiator Hoses
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filters
  • Engine oil
  • Water
  • Spare Tires
    • Sections of the Gibb River Road are extremely treacherous, evidence by the many shredded tires by the side of the road. We picked up a traveller that had shredded two tires within 40 kilometers and only had the one spare. Driving him back to the closest station we also punched a hole in the wall of our tire. Many travelers opt for two or even three spare tires given the poor road conditions. Others rely on one spare and a tire repair kit. Make sure your spare is pumped up, in good condition, and will get you out of trouble. Double-check you have a complete tire changing kit on board and in working order before you set out.
  • Tire Repair Kit
    • A tire repair kit will plug a hole if you manage to puncture a small hole in the tread of a tubeless tire. Of course for large punctures, shredded tires or damage to the tire wall, you’ll need a decent spare (or two).
  • Shock absorber bushes
    • The tracks here can put a lot of pressure on these weak points and it can pay to carry some spares.
  • Tool Kit
    • A basic mechanic tool kit including sockets, spanners, and pliers will help make repairing things along the way a lot easier.
  • Cable Ties
    • A simple solution to hold things in place (at least for the time being) when you don’t have the exact right tool or spare.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If there are other spare parts that are unique, known weak points, or hard to track down for your specific vehicle, go ahead and pick up a spare.

If you’re not sure, your mechanic or a forum dedicated to your vehicle type are the best places to ask for vehicle-specific recommendations. You don’t want to be caught without a hard-to-find item along the Gibb River Road, it will be time-consuming and expensive to track down.

Gibb River Road Essentials: Recovery

Four Wheel Drive and the Cockbur Range. Make sure you have the right recovery gear as part of your Gibb River Road Essentials
Make sure you have the right recovery gear as part of your Gibb River Road Essentials

The Gibb River Road itself is corrugated, rocky, and has its fair share of water crossings, but it is also graded and well-trafficked. However, along the Gibb River Road, you will find plenty of four-wheel-drive tracks, sandy riverside camps and poorly maintained roads into attractions that need to be negotiated. As with any off-roading trip, you should carry the necessary recovery kit to get you going if you manage to get your car stuck.

  • Recovery tracks
    • A popular addition to any recovery kit, recovery tracks allows you to self-recover if you get bogged in soft sand or mud. Recovery tracks are a must on any off-road-trip checklist if you are tackling the 4WD tracks or plan to drive to some of the remote beaches in north of Western Australia.
  • Winch
    • A worthy addition to any 4WD vehicle and definitely something to consider as part of your recovery gear checklist. The upside to a winch is that unlike some other recovery kit options it doesn’t require a second recovery vehicle to get you going again. While there are usually heaps of enthusiasts on the Gibb River Road it is wise to be as self-sufficient as possible and the ability to self-recover can be appealing if you are planing on leaving the main road.
  • Tree trunk protector
    • An essential part of your recovery gear if you have a winch. It wraps around the tree to provide a safe recovery point for your winch to attach to.
  • Recovery / Snatch Strap
    • Make sure you carry a recovery strap so someone can pull you out if you get stuck. A recovery strap can also be used (in a pinch) if you don’t have a tree trunk protector or can’t find one, just wrap the strap around the tree a few times because a snatch strap is longer, and has more stretch.
  • D-ring Shackle
    • Essential in any 4WD recovery kit. They can be used as safe attachment points for recovery equipment.
  • Shovel
    • Another good piece of kit when you are going off-road. No one wants to get their hands dirty digging you out of a bog.
  • Tire Pressure Gauge and Deflator
    • If you become bogged in soft sand or mud (or before you do) you can let down your tires to increase traction.
    • You can also let your off-road tires down on rough corregated tracks for a smoother ride. *If you have road tires, letting the pressure down on rough tracks is a bad idea. You will put the weak tire wall on the ground where a rock or stick is likely to punch a whole in it.
  • Air Compressor
    • Having a portable air compressor lets you adjust your tire pressure to the road conditions which could come in handy. An air compressor will also be essential if you puncture a tire and are able to repair it using a tire repair kit.

Gibb River Road Essentials: Safetey Gear

A rusted car along the Gibb River Roas. Pack the right safety gear as part of your Gibb River Road Essentials packing list
Pack the right safety gear as part of your Gibb River Road Essentials packing list.
  • EPIRB / PLB
    • An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Location Beacon is an emergency distress signal that is monitored by a global network of satellites. Once activated a distress signal and location will be provided to search and rescue services who will initiate a rescue mission within a few hours. This small and relatively inexpensive safety device is worth its weight in gold in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia where telephone reception is extremely limited.
  • Map
    • To be sure you always know where you are consider investing in a map of the Gibb River Road to help plot your journey. HEMA has a reputation for the best digital and print maps in Australia.
  • UHF/CB Radio
    • Another piece of equipment that can help make up for the lack of telephone service along the Gibb River Road. Cheap to buy and free to use, UHF or CB radio will allow you to communicate with nearby vehicles also equipped with a radio. They can be used to communicate traffic, road conditions, or, in an emergency, an SOS.
  • A Fire Extinguisher
    • Gas cylinders, campfires, and vehicles, three things that go well with a fire extinguisher. Especially true when you’re going bush, far from emergency services or a reliable water supply.

Gibb River Road Essentials: First Aid Kit

A snake in Emma Gorge on the Gibb River Road.
Having a well-supplied medical kit is important on the Gibb River Road

Gibb River Road Essentials: Camping Gear

A woman camping with her car next to the Hann River on the Gibb River Road. Gibb River Road Essentials.
Don’t forget the camping gear when planning your Gibb River Road Essentials
  • Tent or Swag
    • Accommodation is available along the Gibb River Road, but to get the most out of your trip and the beautiful remote camping opportunities, you will need to bring a tent or swag.
  • Camping chairs
    • While the ground or a nice log can suffice in a pinch, good camp chairs (or even cheap ones) make relaxing on a beach or by a creek much more enjoyable.
  • Camp Stove
    • If you don’t want to eat cans of tuna for every meal, grab a simple a camp stove for the trip. We travel with a two-burner stove and gas canister, but a single burner butane stove would do the trick. Just make sure you are fully stocked with enough fuel for your needs.
  • Fridge
    • A 12-v compressor fridge is a great addition to any camping trip but especially on the Gibb River Road. Ice is hard to come by and is in limited supply along the way. A 12-v compressor fridge might set you back a bit, but it is well worth it to have a nice cold beer after a long dusty drive.
  • Car Awning or Gazebo Tent
    • The Kimberley is hot. Having your own shade is important to escape the relentless sun. Whether it is an awning attached to your car or a gazebo tent you will be racing to put it up when you settle in for the day at one of the many great campsites along the Gibb River Road. If you don’t have a roof rack and still want to attach an awning, check out our guide on how to attach an awning without roof racks for all our vanlife tips and tricks!
  • Outdoor Camping Lights
  • Water Storage
    • Camping in remote locations means limited access to water. Make sure your rig is fitted out with enough capacity to carry at a minimum of 5-7 liters of water per person per day. We carry 60 liters of water with us and can last roughly 5 days being careful with water consumption. You will also need to make sure you pack a hose as well as a tap fitting and hose connector set to attach to the water tap.
  • Water Basin
    • For washing dishes and for washing the dust from your clothes. We prefer a collapsible basin to save on space.
  • Clothesline
    • With laundry facilities few and far between along the Gibb RIver Road, washing your clothes with water from the creek and hanging them out to dry is your next best option. Make sure to bring a clothesline because you won’t want to be drying your clothes by hanging them on your dusty vehicle.
  • Trowel
    • The remoteness of the Gibb River Road means a toilet is rarely handy. Make sure to pack a trowel along with some recyclable toilet paper for the times when nature calls and nature is the answer. (If you have packed a shovel as part of your recovery kit and it’s easily accessible, this is even better!)
  • Shower
    • Being remote doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be dirty all the time (although getting a bit dusty is inevitable). And while showers are available at most of the stations and roadhouses having the ability to shower at your remote campsites by the creek is helpful. We have a camping solar shower bag, but you can also use a 12-V shower and heat water in a steel pot on the fire.
  • Water Purification Tablets or Water Filter
    • Water purification tablets or a water filter are always handy things to carry when heading somewhere remote. If you miscalculated and your water runs dry, you can find water in the many water crossings along the Gibb River Road. Having the ability to purify your own water makes you a little more flexible to explore the wilderness of the Gibb River Road at your own pace.
  • Headlamp
    • Wild camping means you have only the light of the moon and the stars at night, but if that’s not enough a headlamp can make camping at night a bit easier.
  • Biodegradable Toilet Paper
    • For when nature calls and when nature’s the answer. This toilet paper won’t harm the planet but don’t forget to bury it with everything else.
  • Spare Batteries
    • A must for any camping adventure.
  • Wikicamps
    • Download the Wikicamps application to help find up to date information on campsites and points of interest provided by other travellers. This app has one time payment of $7 but will pay for itself many times over.
  • Matches / Lighter
    • Sitting around the fire and swapping stories at the end of a long day on the Gibb River Road is one of the best bits of the trip…don’t forget the matches.
  • Marshmallows
    • No campfire is complete without marshmallows to roast.

Gibb River Road Essentials: Toys and Entertainment

Bells Gorge on the Gibb River Road. Gibb River Road Essentials.
Don’t forget to have some fun on your Gibb River Road Adventure
  • Fishing Rod and Fishing Tackle
    • There is plenty of fishing along the Gibb River Road and the preferred species out here is barramundi.
  • Tinny
    • If you have a small boat and the capability to take it with you along the Gibb River Road there are plenty of places to get it out.
  • Pool Noodle
    • Or similar floatation devices, great floating around the plunge pools beneath the many waterfalls.
  • Movies, Shows and Podcasts
    • Far from TV, internet or radio reception, don’t forget to download some film and television from Netflix and some music and podcasts on Spotify.

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This Gibb River Road Essentials checklist is meant to highlight some of the essentials needed on a recreational trip along The Gibb River Road but of course, it is by no means exhaustive. If you have a question about your packing list for the trip, let us know below. Or, if you’ve completed the journey and you think we’ve missed something, let us know what you would add to the Gibb River Road essentials checklist!

Gibb River Road Checklist Download

Why not download our printable Gibb River Road essentials checklist with exactly what to pack for the Gibb River Road.

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If you found this packing list helpful and need to purchase something from the list, consider following the Amazon links in the article, it won’t cost you any more and will help support the blog!

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Do you have other unanswered questions about driving the Gibb River Road? Check out our FAQ to find everything you need to know before you get on The Gibb River Road!

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