Gibb River

Course of the River

The Gibb River rises in the Caroline Range and flows 114 kilometres generally north-north-east to its confluence with the Drysdale River on the Gardner Plateau.

The course of the Gibb River first appeared on public plans in 1902.

Incongruously, travellers on the Gibb River Road do not cross the Gibb River. They will, however, cross the river when travelling on the Kalumburu Road, three kilometres after leaving the eponymously named Gibb River Road.

Naming of the River

Government surveyor Charles Crossland, second in command of Fred Brockman’s North West Kimberley Exploring Expedition, discovered the Gibb River on 18 September 1901. He and Government Geologist A. Gibb Maitland made a survey towards Mt Horace and Mt Bertie when they came across

 “… a large stony river running Northwards towards the Drysdale, which carries a great volume of water during flood time. Mr Maitland subsequently traversed this from its junction with the Drysdale. This I have named the Gibb River.”

Andrew Gibb Maitland (1864-1951) was born in Yorkshire, England, son of George and Margaret nee Gibb, both of Scottish ancestries. Maitland qualified as a geologist and migrated to Queensland in 1888. His reputation grew and in 1891 he made a geological survey of British New Guinea. In 1896 he became Government Geologist of Western Australia, his predecessor having resigned to join the mining rush. Maitland established the Geological Survey of Western Australia. He was an acknowledged authority on underground water and did much to locate bores in the North West. Maitland was regarded as ‘the last of the pioneer geologists of Australia’. When he retired in 1926 half of the State had been geologically mapped. He married Alice Maud Brumfitt in 1895 and they had two sons and two daughters.

The naming of this river reflects Maitland’s use of the name Gibb as his first name, as does the naming of Gibb Range near the headwaters of the river. The Maitland Range was also named in his honour.

114 kilometres
South-eastern end of the Caroline Range (275 kilometres north-west of Halls Creek)
204100 metres east 8212600 metres north
Drysdale River
Northern end of Maitland Range (160 kilometres west of Wyndham)
246100 metres east 8271750 metres north
Numerous named and un-named creeks
1:100,000 MAPS
Gibb 4165, Sullivan 4265, Woodhouse 4166, Camm 4266
1:250,000 MAPS
Mt Elizabeth SE 52-1, Ashton SD 52-13


Epton, Kim, Rivers of the Kimberley, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, 2000.


© Kim Epton 2018-2024
430 words, one image.

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