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The unforgettable Gibb River Road - Part 1 of 2

It was a little eerie to be finally at the doorstep of perhaps the most talked about four wheel drive track in Australia, the mighty Gibb has a story or two. All roads were open after heavy rain in many parts, some receiving up to 200mm in just a couple of days, a week or so prior. The anticipation for this part of our journey had been growing for the last week, now we were actually going to do it. We stocked up with as much food, water and fuel as we could carry and hit the track. We decided to stop at Home Valley Station first and were surprised by the great facilities there, a pool, a restaurant and great hot showers. This meant that just prior to this we crossed the legendary Pentecost River. I have seen maybe 1,000 different photographs of this crossing, being there was a great feeling, it really is the gateway to the Kimberley on the Eastern end. We set about searching out photographs of the iconic Boab trees with the Cockburn Ranges in the background in this great area. After a day of scratching around and following some rough tracks I was amazed and very happy with what I found. We also spent a day looking around El Questro, what a place with so much to see and some rough tracks. Branco's Lookout Track was a stand out for its rocks. It was just too slow and rough and we were too late in the day so we turned around and got out. We may try to explore more of El Questro on the way back through.

With the lure of the waterfalls running we hit the Gibb again, I really wanted to get to Mitchell Falls, people coming from the west were telling us how good it looked after the recent heavy rains. After turning off the Gibb and onto the Kalumburu road, we made it to Drysdale River Station next, Mitchell Falls was on our door step.

We only stayed a night at Drysdale but got permission from the owners to photograph the very impressive Drysdale River the next morning at dawn, a great experience. We were soon packed up and on the move whilst also realising the depreciating condition of the road. Once we reached the Mitchell Falls turn off and King Edward river crossing, 108 kilometers North of Drysdale, the track turned to a mess of water, corrugations and larger rocks. It took us a further three hours to drive the 76 kilometers into the Mitchell Falls camp ground, with everything well bolted down and all tyres down to 24psi. We watched our Prado turn from an off white to the colour of the mud on the track, it really was great fun.

After setting up camp I couldn't sleep that night, the anticipation of walking into the falls the next day was too great. I couldn't stop wondering just what it was like and how much water would be passing over the escarpment. We had invested heavily to this point and I hoped to no end that it would be worth it after one of the driest wet seasons on record. To be continued in Part 2.


Paul Kowalski

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