The Gibb River Road is one of Australia’s most legendary and beautiful 4×4 tracks. 700kms of dirt roads run from Derby to Kununurra through the best of what the Kimberley region has to offer.
We decided to extend our 12 day trip an extra 800kms to visit Mitchell Falls, along one of the track’s side roads. This is some of the most isolated and spectacular territory in the whole of Australia and well worth the extra kms.
In total we drove over 1,500kms starting from the Leopold Downs Road (just west of Fitzroy crossing), joining the Gibb River Road near Windjana Gorge, taking the Kalumburu Road to Mitchell Falls and finally finishing at Kununurra.
The entire 12 days were jam packed with stunning scenery, crystal clear natural springs/waterfalls and exhilerating driving (including croc infested river crossings)!
We were totally isolated (apart from encountering other tourists at popular watering holes) and wild camped each night with no problems and 5 billion star views.
The utter isolation meant we needed to take our own water, food, tools/spare parts and fuel. There are a couple of small petrol stations along the way but you’ll find fuel prices to be almost double that of in the city. Installing a 2nd fuel tank may be worthwhile if you’re considering doing this trip.
We planned our trip to coincide with the beginning of the dry season and found the majority of the track in great condition. The road gets graded so well after the wet season that we saw a few 2 wheel drives finish the road easily.
Some of the side tracks leading to gorges and waterfalls may not be as well maintained, and the final 80kms into Mitchell Falls was shockingly corrugated. Be prepared for multiple river crossings along the way (and yes… watch out for crocs at these crossings)!
Some of our favourite spots along the way were:
- Southern Leopold Downs Road – As you drive along the road you’ll be witness to beautiful old boab trees, spinifex as far as the eye can see and Devonian Reef rock formations everywhere you look.
- Windjana Gorge – Keep an eye out for fossils in the cliff on your right hand side as you walk into the gorge.
- Tunnel Creek – the name says it all. This creeks has carved out a portion of the rocky landscape and now runs underground for a couple of hundred metres. You may even see a few glaring pairs of croc eyes staring back at you in the dark but don’t worry – these are only fresh water crocodiles.
- Bell Gorge – a crocodile-free, five tiered waterfall that boasts an infinity pool above, sun warmed rocks and caverns to picnic in and a deep, blue pool to swim in below. This place could just be our favourite spot along the entire Gibb!
- Galvin’s Gorge – this tiny yet cute swimming hole is only a couple of hundred metres from the main road. You’ll find some interesting Aboriginal artwork on the cliff walls and a swing rope waiting to be used to jump into the perfect water.
- Aboriginal rock art on the way to Mitchell Falls – You’ll find paintings of up to 40,000 years old all the way along the road and walking trail into Mitchell Falls. It’s well worth the stop to check them all out.
- Mitchell Falls – A good 800km round trip detour from the Gibb River Road this incredibly massive 5 tier waterfall is worth the extra trek! The upper level is swimmable but crocs await on the lower levels so avoid swimming here.
- Pentecost River Crossing – This has got to be one of the Gibbs’ most famously photographed locations. The river itself is a good 35m wide and home to salt water crocodiles. The rocky outcrop behind tops the scene off perfectly!
- Zebedee Springs at El Questro Station – these hot springs stay at 32C all year round and sheltered among lush palm trees beside a red rock cliff. STUNNING!
- Emma Gorge at El Questro Station – An enjoyable hour long hike will take you up a chasm in the rocks trickling with crystal clear water. At the end you’ll be rewarded with a perfect swimming hole including a lovely waterfall and a corner with warmer water!
After driving half way around the entire world this has still got to be our most jaw-dropping and wondrous experience. The Gibb River Road is truly incredible – packed with beautiful water holes, Aboriginal art, purple hazed mountain ranges, some great 4×4 opportunities, wild camping galore and interesting walking trails it left us speechless.
For more amazing images of the Gibb River Road check out our video of the trip here: