At the tourist information center in Kununurra, the lady told us that the road was “ONLY” 650km. Well, it’s still 650km of dirt roads and we had a few additional detours planned on.
After filling up the tank and buying enough food for the week, we entered this scenic but very remote area. We dropped the tire pressure to 35PSI to limit the risks of a flat tire!
Curious to know more about this road – and also why it was call “Gibb” since it doesn’t cross the Gibb River at all – we learned that it all started in the late 1800′ when several colons took ownership of large patches of land in the Kimberley area to produce livestock. By the 1950s, an unofficial road had been traced between Derby and Wyndham by the new settlers to move cattle to larger towns and the government created what is today the Gibb River Road. And the name Gibb comes from the australian geologist and explorer Andrew Gibb Maitland 😉
And we did see cattle all along the road, with a very close encounter during one of our walks!
Travelling through this area was very much breathtaking. At first the GRR seems to only take you through dirt and dry savanna, but at every turn we would be surprised by the beauty of the scenery. We explored spectacular landscapes of intensely colored ranges, dramatic gorges, remote pools, waterfalls, and ancient rivers carved in what used to be the great corral reef..
The Kimberley is an ancient region formed more than 1.8 billion years ago. During the Devonian era (375-350 million years ago) most of the Kimberley was covered by a warm shallow sea and coral reefs. As the sea level has fallen to its present level, fossilized materials from old sea beds and coral reefs have been exposed by erosion and now form many of the spectacular gorges.
On the road
We had planned for the worst, given all what we heard about this road and its isolation. Spare tire, tire compressor, extra fluids… Surprisingly enough, most of the road was actually pretty ok! Well, considering that we are on a V8 4.5L 4X4 with new shocks. A few parts were rough because of the corrugations.
So, we had to get used to a few new sensations such as bounces on uneven surfaces, judders on corrugations, jolts from potholes or embedded stones and every now and then a good splash from a creek crossing at 50km/h! And a few slides on loose gravel and drifts on sand which were quite fun!
We past several burst tires and a few car wrecks on the way, sign that the road can be traitorous. We made it with no mechanical issues or even a flat tire, however our eyes were fixed on the fuel gage for the last 2 days speeding was not even an option. We now know that a fuel tank and a 20L jerrican make up just about 675km.
We couldn’t resist the local treats of the GRR. Our morning break at Ellenbrae Homestead was rewarded with some delicious scones with jam&cream.
We also made an expensive fuel stop at lonely Mt Barnett Roadhouse and were told about their famous burgers. We passed this time given the price.. $18.50 felt slightly overpriced (= a top notch burger in NYC!)
For the regular meals, we relied on Chef Soso (and sometimes sous-chef Oscar) to be creative for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Healthy and creative, our chef even pulled off a nice vegetable curry in the middle of the Kimberley!
After our Asian months (aka fried rice, fried noodles, fried vegetables), it was time to get back in shape. Armed with 2 cheap yoga mats from Kmart, Shaun T’s “Insanity” training videos and our joined determination, we are back on track with our yoga practice and morning workout at sunrise. Which means 5.15am in Western Australia.
Come on y’all, let’s goooo!
Additionally, we walk several kms every day to reach the remote gorges or water falls.
Fauna and Flora
We were not expecting to see such diverse wildlife in the Kimberley. Not only did we encounter Kangaroos and Walabis almost daily, but we saw a great deal of other species and plants!
We went to the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, which is an area managed by a NGO and covers more than 3,000 km2 land where they work to protect and revive the Kimberly wildlife from human threats. Mainly they do fire management, reduce the impact of cattle on their land and fight feral cats from killing the small wildlife.
Given the crazy clear skies, the absence of light pollution and the new moon (so we couldn’t see it), i played with long exposure shots.