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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 meets 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 anything 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
The list below is the list of spare parts that we carry with us based on recommendations by our mechanic. 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.
- Drive belts
- Radiator Hoses
- Air filter
- Fuel filters
- Engine oil
- Shock absorber bushes
Outside of the spare parts specific to your vehicle, we also recommend having a few other items to keep you safe on the road.
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.
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 traveler that had shredded two tires within 40 kilometers and only had 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).
A basic mechanic tool kit including sockets, spanners, and pliers will help repair things along the way.
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.
Tire Repair Kit
A tire repair kit will plug a hole if you manage to puncture a small hole in a tubeless tire. Of course for large holes or shredded tires, you’ll need a decent spare.
A basic mechanic tool kit including sockets, spanners, and pliers will help repair things along the way.
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.
Looking for the perfect vehicle to tackle the Gibb River Road?
Gibb River Road Essentials: Recovery
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.
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 planning on leaving the main road.
Tree Trunk Protector
An essential part of your recovery gear if you have a winch. A tree trunk protector wraps around the tree to provide a safe recovery point for your winch to attach to.
A popular addition to any recovery kit, recovery tracks like Maxtrax 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.
Recovery Strap / 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.
Essential in any 4WD recovery kit. D-ring shackles can be used as safe attachment points for recovery equipment.
If you are headed to the beach or plan on doing some off-roading, make sure to pack a shovel. No one wants to get their hands dirty digging you out of a sunken situation.
Tire Pressure Gauge
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.
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: Safety Gear
Personal Location Beacon
A Personal Location Beacon or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio 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 parts of Australia, where telephone reception is extremely limited.
A HEMA Map
You won’t have cell service to help you navigate where you are going on the Gibb. Make sure to grab yourself a Gibb River Road map to help plot your journey. HEMA has a reputation for being the best digital and print maps in remote Australia.
UHF or CB Radio
A cheap and easy way to make sure you are staying safe on the road, UHF or CB radio will allow you to communicate with the large road trains that tear up and down the PDR leaving a dust cloud behind them.
Gibb River Road Essentials: First Aid Kit
Gibb River Road Essentials: Camping Gear
Tent or Swag
Accommodation is available at many of the stations that dot the Gibb but to truly experience the Gibb camping is advised. So, don’t forget to pack a tent or swag.
Nobody likes cans of tuna for every meal. A camp stove can go a long way into making your trip if at least your meal time memorable. 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.
12-v Compressor Fridge
A 12-v compressor fridge is a great addition to any camping trip but especially on the Gibb. Ice is hard to come by and is in limited supply. 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 on the red clay.
Car Awning or Gazebo Tent
A great addition to any camping set up is an awning. We recommend a vehicle awning, but a gazebo tent will also work, it just requires a bit more effort to set up and dismantle.
Outdoor Camping Lights
There are no city lights to keep the night lit up on the Gibb. Make sure to pack 12-v camping lights, solar-powered lights, or battery-operated lights for when the sun goes down.
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 water per person per day. We carry 60 liters of water with us and can last roughly 5 days being careful with our 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.
For washing dishes (and perhaps clothes). We prefer a collapsible basin to save on space.
Depending on how long you plan to drive the Gibb River Road, you may need to do a bit of laundry. Make sure to bring a clothesline because you won’t want to be drying your clothes by hanging them on your dusty vehicle.
You may not always be near a toilet. 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!)
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.
Being remote doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be dirty all the time (although it is inevitable on the Gibb). And while showers are available at many of the stations, 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 rechargable 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 take advantage of the many creek crossings and fill up your water supply.
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.
A headlamp really isn’t very helpful if it doesn’t work. Packing an extra set of batteries means you won’t be without light.
Lighter / Matches
Sitting around the fire and swapping stories at the end of a long drive is one of the best bits of the trip…don’t forget the matches.
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.
Gibb River Road Essentials: Toys and Entertainment
Fishing Rod and Tackle
There is plenty of fishing along the Gibb River Road, and the preferred species out here is barramundi.
Grab a pool noodle or similar floatation devices for the many plunge pools beneath the waterfalls.
Movies, Shows & 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.
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.
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!
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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