Travelling the Gibb River Road was a first for all of us, it’s something we read about in many magazines and have always wanted to do. So we headed off from Broome full off excitement that, for the first time this trip, we were truly heading off into unknown territory. Our first stop was Derby, and it was a quick fuel up and a trip to the tourist info centre to get permits sorted that would allow us to travel to Kalumburu. After the onslaught of midgie bites and the extremely unpleasant red, itchy welts that followed them I got anytime I went anywhere near tidal flats or mangroves, Derby was crossed off our list of overnight destinations. Sorry, Derby, it’s not you it’s me.
We headed to the Windjana Gorge campgrounds where we spent three nights exploring the area fully. After a good sleep, we headed off on our first day to do the full 7km walk as far as we were allowed to go down the gorge. The kids handled it like the troopers they are, no shoulder taxi required! Along the course of the walk we chatted to some of the locals who were more than happy to tell us their stories about the area and the ways that they catch different fish in the river. We saw plenty of fresh water crocodiles basking in the water as well as some fossils from the time that the gorge was once an underwater reef.
The next day we headed out to Tunnel Creek, a tunnel that has the Leonard River running through it. It was incredible. We waded through the dark caves and through the water all the way to the end where we arrived at a little waterhole. Here we saw water monitors and eels swimming through the water. We were also able to see some aboriginal rock paintings.
After three days camping at Windjana, we packed up and headed to Bell Gorge where we stayed at Silent Grove campsite for the night. We arrived early enough to attack the walk to Bell Gorge in the afternoon. While the walk to the gorge was not a long distance, it was still a class 5 walk and we headed over creek beds and climbed down rocks into the gorge. Again the kids were like a couple of mountain goats climbing up and down rocks in bare feet to get to the spectacular swimming hole at the base of the falls. We earned that swim!
To top it all off we had a fun night at Silent Grove where sharing the campfire with great people. We had done this most nights meeting some lovely people along the way and swapping numbers with them.
We were headed to Manning Falls, but on the way we stopped at two more gorges. Adcock and Galvan’s. There are so many to see and every one is as great as they next. At Mount Barnett Roadhouse we booked three nights at Manning campground. We were very excited to hear that not only was there another gorge but right next to the campground, was the Manning River, clear and perfect for swimming.
After setting up camp, we headed down to the river to cool off. After a few days of hot weather and not being able to swim anywhere near where we camped, it was glorious! The following day we set off on our biggest trek yet to the Manning Falls. Crossing the river in a pulley operated punt, we set off on the 2km walk to get to the falls. It was hot, there were lots of ravines to climb up and down but we were well rewarded at the end with the best falls we had seen yet! We spent a couple of hours swimming and enjoying the falls before heading off back on the return journey, which was even more difficult given it was now the middle of the day and we were already exhausted from walking to the falls. Lily resorted to the Dad shoulder taxi a couple of times and then took a tumble that took a bit of skin off the knees. But one of the best parts of this trek was that we were able to have a swim at the end as well in the river.
So far we are only a third of our way along the Gibb. We have met so many people and had some great times already. Everyday we are seeing some of the most amazing scenery we have ever seen. This is definitely bucket list material, and not just once but two or three times at least. We haven’t even touched the sides of what there is to see out here on this trip. We are already talking about the places we will visit next time.
Every day is the best day ever!
Note: Stay tuned for Part Two (The Kalumburu Road) and Part Three (The Gibb River Road North)
This is torture reading this & looking at these photos! I’m so glad you’re having the best time and we are jealous as hell! I wait with baited breath for the next instalment.
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Hi Tracey, so far your trip brings back a lot of memories for me as I have been to all those places, too. The Gibb River is one of my favourite places, I think you will love Zebedee Springs on El Questro Station when you get that far. I am looking forward to seeing your post about Kalumburu as weather conditions have always stopped us getting there. Steer clear of the tree frogs and happy travels!
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