Tour the Gibb River Road

The Gibb River Road can be challenging but it is becoming increasingly popular.

The Gibb River Road is a 660km track right through the wild heart of the Kimberley, taking you from Derby on the west coast to Kununurra (or Wyndham) on Western Australia's eastern border.

This remote route has become more popular in recent years. In the past, you would have been entirely on your own if something went wrong. Today, it’s generally only a short time until another car comes along, so you’re less likely to be in strife for long.

Fuel and supplies are available at several points along the Gibb, as are tyre and mechanical repairs. You don’t need a permit to travel on the Gibb River Road, the Kalumburu Road, the Mitchell Plateau Track or to access any of the usual attractions.

However, you do need a permit if you want to enter the Kalumburu Aboriginal community, and you have to organise it before you leave. An Entry Permit to travel through Aboriginal Land is issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It is free and should only take a day or two to process online.

Any other travel on tracks across Aboriginal land (e.g. Carson River Track) requires a permit.

If it is not Aboriginal land, then it is private. All the land either side of the Gibb River Road and other roads in the area is privately owned. If you want to go exploring on any tracks other than the usual gorge access tracks, you’ll need permission from the owners. The Destination Kimberley Guide has all the phone numbers you’ll need for permission and for camping locations.

The road is heavily corrugated, so the advice from experienced travellers is not to take a caravan or camping trailer unless they are designed for off-road driving. The track is suited to a properly-equipped 4WD vehicle.

Anything you are towing on this road will take a beating. How well your van or trailer survives the trip depends on the driver, as much as anything else. If you are towing, make sure you drop your tyre pressures and speed. Take it very easy.

The trip involves water crossings, so check the time of year to be sure your vehicle can safely navigate the water, as the depth changes with the seasons.