Western Australia has an amazing array of both coastal and inland camping and some truly beautiful roads along the way. One important road in the Kimberley region is the Gibb River Road, where many adventure off-road campers travel every year. If you haven’t seen the amazing natural beauty along Gibb River Road, then definitely put this one on your next caravan trip itinerary.
Gibb River Road is a former cattle route running 660 kilometres east to west across the Kimberley. In 1948, an Air Beef Scheme started operations between Wyndham and Glenroy Station with an airstrip, abattoir, and freezing works built to support the beef industry. Not only were meat products airfreighted twice daily to the coast for shipping to southern cities, but the Commonwealth Government granted the construction of a new road in 1949. The road to Derby was part of a system often referred to as the Beef Roads Scheme.
The project’s southern section became known as the Derby-Gibb River Road, which was used for transporting live cattle after its completion in 1956. Previously controlled by the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley, Main Roads Western Australia took over the road in 1996 and upgraded the entire highway.
The Gibb River Road may be used for more than just beef transport today, as it’s a beautiful pathway to some of regional Australia’s most remote and captivating locations. The road runs from the town of Derby to the junction of Kununurra and Wyndham at the Great Northern Highway. This highway runs further south of Gibb River Road, but together these are the two major routes that cover the Kimberley.
A 4WD vehicle is always recommended for the Gibb River Road, as there are many heavily corrugated sections, and the risk of flooding is high during the wet season. The best off-road caravan is your safest choice when travelling along Gibb River Road. While it was upgraded in the mid-2000s with formed gravel, this two-lane road is still remote and rugged for the most part, especially if you’re used to city or coast highway driving. A few short sections have been bitumenised, but overall, you can expect an exciting, if a bit bumpy, journey.
GIBB RIVER ROAD ITINERARY
When preparing to travel Gibb River Road, prioritise a routine maintenance check for your off-road caravan. This way, you can ensure a smooth ride along one of the Kimberley’s most inspiring scenic routes. You should also think about everything you want to see and do, and budget your time accordingly. This is also an opportunity to acknowledge the Aboriginal history along the route, including the Worrorra of Dambimangari, the Wunambal Gaambera of Uunguu, and the Ngarinyin of Wilinggin.
If you’re starting in Perth, it takes about 25 hours and 2,375 kilometres to reach the start of the Gibb River Road in Derby. If you want to travel up and through the outback to reach the road’s Wyndham starting point, you should expect around 32 hours and 2,800 kilometres. Just remember to check the weather conditions, especially during the wet season when flooding is likely. Most caravan travellers budget at least one or two weeks to cover everything Gibb River Road has to offer, including the Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge, Charnley River Station, Windjana Gorge National Park, Bell Gorge, and Tunnel Creek National Park.