Along the Gibb River Road

To the Start of the Gibb

We stocked the fridges before we left Broome for our adventure along the Gibb River Road.

The Great Northern Highway leads east out of Broome 160+ kilometres to the Willare Bridge Roadhouse, a kilometre past the mighty Fitzroy River.

We refuelled at the Roadhouse and headed north. The road continues straight to Derby and it is actually Great Northern Highway (Highway 1) that deviates to the east.

We took the road towards Derby. The Gibb River Road starts just outside Derby.

Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge is an iconic destination along the Gibb River Road.

After we set up camp it was time for a walk up the Gorge. The track extends for 3.5 kilometres following the bed of the Lennard River through the Napier Range but as it was late in the afternoon we chose not to do the full distance.


Tunnel Creek

Leaving Windjana we took a 33 kilometre detour south to Tunnel Creek. Dust, unfenced road and wandering cattle equals hazardous driving conditions.

Tunnel Creek is a 750 metre long underground passage carved out of the limestone of Napier Range by flowing water. The creek once flowed across the top of the Range but water seepage gradually enlarged fractures in the limestone until it reached today’s underground course. The Tunnel is up to 12 metres high and 15 metres wide and contains permanent pools of fresh water in which freshwater crocodiles are found.

In the late 19th century, it was a hideout for the aboriginal Jandamurra while evading Police for crimes of murder and robbery. In earlier times the tunnel was known as the Cave of Bats, as at least five species of bat are known to inhabit it.

Tammy was way, way out of her comfort zone. To her credit she made it all the way to end of the cave.

The bats did nothing to alleviate her fears.

I didn’t tell her about the resident crocodiles until after we had returned to the entrance.

Tammy’s realisation that she would have to make a second journey through the Tunnel was a real challenge for her. Brave girl. She kept her cool, conquered her fears and after she climbed back out to daylight was able to celebrate a personal victory.

To Silent Grove

The road back to the Gibb was in terrible condition, corrugated, pot holed and dusty.

We turned back onto the Gibb River Road, heading towards our planned overnight stop at Silent Grove. A few kilometres to the north-east we passed what is colloquially known as Queen Victoria’s Head.

Lennard Gorge

Our next stop, Lennard Gorge, is a few kilometres past Inglis Gap. Lennard Gorge is a spectacular waterfall and swimming hole formed by the Lennard River as its cuts its way through the King Leopold Range. The track into the gorge is rough and the path from the carpark to the waterhole is indistinct.

Silent Grove/Bell Gorge

The campsite at Silent Grove was nearly full. The resident Monitor lizard was fed by everyone.

Silent Grove is the campground for Bell Gorge, the most popular gorge and waterfall along the Gibb.

Manning Gorge

It’s about 10 kilometres from the Silent Grove campground out to the Gibb River Road. Once back on the Gibb we passed the Isdell Range and continued north-east.

Manning Gorge

All too soon it was time to return to the vehicle. It was a long walk back. The flies were friendly.

From Manning Gorge we continued generally east past Mt Barnett. The road follows a stock route from Mt Barnett to about where it crosses the Hann River at which point its course becomes more northerly.

Kalumburu Road

The Gibb River after which the road is named does not actually cross it. The closest the road gets to the river is a couple of kilometres before the Kalumburu Road intersection in the Gibb Range at which point is 1.7 kilometres distant.

We didn’t have time to drive the 267 kilometres to Kalumburu.

Home Valley Station

We crested the Pentecost Range to be rewarded with magnificent views of the Pentecost River Valley and Cockburn Range. With concentration one could see Home Valley Station, our destination and planned stop for the night.

Kimberley nightlife, outback style, as delivered by Home Valley Station.

Home Valley Station overlooks the Bindoola Creek which flows into the Pentecost River. It is a working  cattle station that, since 2006, has diversified into providing tourism services. At just over 14,000 square kilometres it is the largest station in Western Australia and the fifth largest in Australia. It is larger in area than 40 sovereign nations of the world.

Pentecost River

After we packed the camper trailer we followed a few station tracks down to the Pentecost River. There was no doubting we were in ‘croc country’.

Zebedee Springs

We were nearing the end of our adventure along the Gibb River Road but there was still the ‘jewels’ of Zebedee Springs and Emma Gorge (in El Questro Wilderness Park) to come.

Emma Gorge

Emma Gorge Resort is 22 kilometres from Zebedee Springs – both part of El Questro.

The walk to the swimming hole at the top of the gorge takes about 30 minutes.

The Grotto

We drove out of Emma Gorge and turned left onto the Gibb for the last 25 kilometres of its length. It T junctions with the Great Northern Highway near Mount Harrison. The Highway runs a further 50 kilometres north to Wyndham giving it a total length from Perth of 3200 kilometres. It is the longest highway in Australia. Left to Wyndham, right to Kununurra. Just before Wyndham is The Grotto.


Leaving The Grotto it was a short drive to colourful, historic Wyndham – the hottest town in Australia. Wyndham is at the bottom of the Cambridge Gulf – the endpoint of five rivers (Durack, Pentecost, Ord, King, and Forrest).

Five Rivers Lookout

No visit to Wyndham is complete without a visit to Five Rivers Lookout at the top of The Bastion.

Parry Creek

We preferred Parry Creek Farm for our overnight stop. It is in the Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve – 36,000 hectares of pristine wilderness that is a Wetland of International Importance. The Reserve is a feeding and breeding ground for many migratory waders. It is also a drought refuge for all of the Kimberley’s waterbirds.



© Kim Epton 2010-2024
2151 words, 228 photographs, two images..

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