A true outback odyssey on one of Australia’s most unique 4WD tracks.
Turning off the bitumen and going ‘over the range’ on the Gibb River Road is a truly unique Aussie outback adventure through the Kimberley’s vast untouched wilderness, ancient gorge country and epic cattle stations the size of small countries.
Originally constructed in the 1960s to transport cattle from outlying stations to the ports of Derby and Wyndham, the 660-kilometre 4WD trail is the best way to discover the natural treasures of the Kimberley’s wild heartlands.
Read on to plan your trip, including details of the Gibb’s gorges, accommodation and camping along the way, tours, suggested itineraries and the practical details like maps, driving distances and fuel stops.
Explore the Gorges
The river gorges, cascading waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes along the Gibb are some of natures best, and a welcome reward after walking the bush tracks to get to them.
While walking the trails and exploring the waterfalls, keep an eye out for Aboriginal rock art sites under ledges and overhangs. These are important cultural sites, so please do not touch or disturb them.
Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge)
Possibly the most famous gorge along the Gibb River Road, Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge) is a tranquil horseshoe-shaped gorge with a cascading waterfall. Follow the 2km trail from the car park to the top of the waterfall, with a more difficult trail to the swimming hole at the base of the falls. Allow at least 2-3 hours for the walk plus time to explore, swim and enjoy the surrounds.
Adcock Gorge is a picturesque gorge and swimming spot on Mt House Station. A short walk from the carpark approximately 5km off the Gibb River Road leads you to a deep, shaded pool bordered by the walls of the gorge on three sides. This is a great detour for a swim while travelling to Manning Gorge to the east, or Iminitji to the west.
Galvan’s Gorge is the most accessible gorge along the Gibb River Road. This is a popular and pretty swimming spot, with a small seasonal waterfall flowing into a horseshoe shaped pool. The trail is relatively flat and easy, following the path of a creek and ending at the waterhole opposite the waterfall.
With a large pool surrounded by high cliffs and seasonal waterfalls, Manning Gorge is one of the most beautiful swimming spots in the Kimberley. An adventurous 3km walk leads you to the top of the gorge, starting out by crossing the creek at the campground. This is also a great area to swim, with easy access and refreshing waters.
Situated in El Questro Wilderness Park, this is one of the most popular gorges on the Gibb. Walking from the resort reception area, the signposted trail takes you over some rocky terrain towards the wide and deep pool at the base of a droplet waterfall. Swim to the right of the pool to see if you can find the small thermal spring!
Tours that take you along the Gibb
Head off the beaten track with an experienced guide and like-minded fellow travellers, join a micro-group (6 travellers or fewer) or to take a private charter/tour.
Gibb River Road tours allow for a choice of accommodation, from fully accommodated, to participatory camping tours, where you pitch in to set up camp and prepare the evening meal, tours offering permanent campsites for some or all of your overnight stays, or tours allowing you to choose to upgrade your accommodation along the way.
The classic Kimberley 4WD itineraries can vary from 10 to 15 days, travelling through the Gibb River Road and onwards to take in all of the region's major attractions, such as the Purnululu National Park (the Bungles), and on some longer itineraries, the Punamii-Unpuu (Mitchell Falls).
Where to stay on the Gibb River Road
There's a surprising range of accommodation for travellers along the Gibb River Road, from campsites to station stays and glamping.
Explore Gorges in Stations and Wilderness Camps
Dotted along the Gibb a number of former and current cattle stations offer camping, comfortable accommodation and meals, as well as the chance to discover some of the gorges and sights tucked away in millions of acres of remote and spectacular country.
Allow at least an overnight stay at the stations and wilderness camps to give yourself enough time to explore.
National Parks along the Gibb
Gibb River Road Itineraries
Whether you're planning to explore every part of the Gibb on a longer trip, or seeing the highlights on a shorter one, you'll find plenty to delight you in the Gibb's gorges, stations and landscapes.
Allow yourself at least 14 days to truly immerse yourself in the adventure at Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge, Galvans Gorge, Manning Gorge, Drysdale River Station, Balanggarra Home Valley Station and El Questro Wilderness Park. Or make a shortlist of your must-see attractions for a shorter, but no less exciting trip.
Our itineraries will give you lots of inspiration!
Gibb River Road in 14 days
This itinerary allows you to explore the Gibb at your leisure, travelling from Derby to Kununurra or in reverse. Tailor it to suit your preferences and time!
Western Gorges Loop
Leaving from Broome, take in the towns of Derby and Fitzroy Crossing, the Devonian Reef national parks - Danggu Geikie Gorge, Bandlingan Windjana Gorge and Dimalurru Tunnel Creek, the Mimbi Caves and Bell Gorge.
Plan your Gibb River Road Trip
Guides & Maps
When travelling along the Gibb, you'll need a National Parks Pass, or pay entry at Bandilgnan (Windjana Gorge) and Dimalurru (Tunnel Creek) NP's. At El Questro Wilderness Park, Visitor Passes (valid for one or seven days) will give you access to a wilderness wonderland. Travelling further north to Punamii-Unpuu (Mitchell Falls)? You can purchase your Unuguu Visitor Pass online, or at Drysdale River Station. We highly recommend purchasing Derby Visitor Centre's annual Gibb River Road Guide.
Gibb River Road Map
This map of the Gibb River Road, produced by Derby Visitor Centre is a great planning tool for your Gibb River Road trip and part of the Gibb River and Kalumburu Roads Guide. You can pick up the guide in person from Derby or Kununurra Visitor Centres, or you can order a copy by post from from the Derby Visitor Centre here.
Fuel and Supplies along the Gibb River Road
Fuel and basic supplies are available at a small number of roadhouses and stations along the Gibb River Road. While the distances between fuel stops are manageable, it is important to take into account the extra kilometres travelled along side tracks to tourist sites and accommodation. Travellers are advised to carry jerry cans with extra fuel.
Fuel along the Gibb River Road:
Derby - Imintji Store (Diesel only; mechanical and tyre repair; grocery items) 227km.
Imintji Store – Mt Barnett Roadhouse (Diesel and petrol; grocery items) 80km.
Mt Barnett Roadhouse – El Questro (Diesel and petrol; minor mechanical and tyre repair; grocery items) 320km.
El Questro – Kununurra 81km.
Note: while Balanggarra Home Valley Station does not sell fuel, it does have a workshop for mechanical and tyre repairs. Balanggarra Home Valley Station is closed in 2022.
Fuel along the Kalumburu Road/Mitchell Plateau
Drysdale River Station (Diesel and petrol; tyre repairs; grocery items).
Prepare before you go:
Broome, Derby and Kununurra all have well-stocked supermarkets where you can stock up for your trip. Local butchers Tenderspot in Broome and Kununurra, and Sampey Meats in Derby can cryovac meat packs for you; we recommend that you place an order for these packs well in advance of your trip.
About the Gibb River Road
The route of the Gibb River Road crosses the traditional lands of many Kimberley peoples, including the Njikena, Bunuba, Ongkomi, Ngarinyin, Gedija, Worrorra and Wunumbal language groups. A rich indigenous culture has been practised throughout the area for many thousands of years, and the Gwion (Bradshaw) and Wandjina rock art traditions are features of the rock paintings in the region surrounding the Gibb River Road and Mitchell Plateau.
Once pastoralists moved across the Kimberley and established cattle stations, Aboriginal people were forcibly displaced from their traditional lands, working as stockmen and domestics on stations, and living and working in remote missions.
While the Gibb River Road as we know it today was constructed in the 1960’s, pastoralists had previously constructed two unsealed tracks linking Derby with Mt House station in the west, and Wyndham with Karunjie Station, Gibb River Station and Kalumburu in the east. Both tracks (known as the Mt House Road and Karunjie Track) were hand-hewn roadways wide enough for bullock wagons, and for drovers with their cattle herds.
These roads provided essential connections between the ports at Derby and Wyndham and outlying stations, but the going was rough – it could take over a week to travel with a supply wagon from Mt House to Derby.
The “Beef Roads Programme” was set up by the government in 1949 to provide funding for the construction of infrastructure to support the beef industry. The Gibb River Road was constructed as part of this programme, and under the supervision of Main Roads WA teams of surveyors, engineers and labourers set out on an arduous 3-year road-building project.
The Gibb River Road only partially follows the routes of the Mt House Road and Karunjie Track – with the benefit of explosives and heavy machinery, the road team were able to cut a new direct route through the Napier and Wunaamin Miliwundi Ranges, and construct creek crossings. The first beef truck travelled the western section of the road in 1963, while works continued at the eastern end until 1967, completing the route of the Gibb River Road that we travel today.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s Aboriginal communities were established along the Gibb River Road, including Imintji, Kupingarri (Mt Barnett Station), Ngallagunda (Gibb River Station), Dodonun (east of Mt Elizabeth Station), Prap Prap (west of Doongan Station) and Kandiwal Community at the Mitchell Plateau.
Some of these communities are now involved in the tourism industry along the Gibb River Road and its surrounds, including operating tours, campsites, shops and roadhouses, and galleries featuring local artists.