Preparing for The Gibb River

Our plans for this winter’s sojourn are to leave Busselton early in May, and return early in October. This year we’re planning to do full justice to just the North of Western Australia, including the Gibb River Road.

The Gibb River was originally constructed in the 1960s to transport stock from the surrounding cattle stations. Now it’s predominantly used by tourists. 660 km of what’s noted to be spectacular scenery – it’s been my number 1 ‘Bucket list’ destination for longer than I can remember.

The road conditions vary from bitumen to natural rocky earth, and is, in many places only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles with a high clearance. Towing caravans is not recommended. So, we’ve been researching tents and sleeping mats. We’re also undertaking regular yoga exercises to try and get us supple enough for rising from a 4 inch air mattress placed on the floor of a tent….. Not as easy now as it was during our tenting days 15 years ago.

We’ve found a touring tent second hand from Gumtree. It’s canvas, so nice to sleep under, and fast to erect. It only needs to be pegged out at the base, and then the insertion of a centre pole, taking around 1 minute. If the conditions are windy it will also then require guy ropes, but most times I gather on the Gibb River, guy ropes won’t be a necessity.

Looking a bit wonky without grass to peg the base to.
Looking a bit wonky without grass to peg the base to.
Bricks inside instead of the necessary  pegs provided a rough erection simulation.
Bricks inside instead of the necessary pegs provided a rough erection simulation.

These normally retail for around $500. This one was second hand but was missing it’s centre pole, and is in need of couple of patches. We managed to acquire it for only $50, plus around $40 for a new centre pole and patches for the necessary repairs. Now all we need is the camp mattresses. Comfort is going to be paramount if we’re to enjoy the trip, so we’ve decided on the slightly more expensive bonded mattresses, now it’s just determining which one, and then to find them at the cheapest possible price.

Our plan is to put the caravan into storage in Broome for three weeks whilst we complete this Bucket List destination. We’re also going to tack on a second trip to Cape Leveque, and a road trip into the Bungle Bungles, both also four wheel drive only destinations, and places not suitable for towing a caravan. We’ve done both Cape Leveque and the Bungle Bungles before. Previously we flew into the Bungle Bungles and then did a helicopter tour around the beehive like formations. It’s apparently a totally different experience to drive to it, and to camp overnight. And Cape Leveque – twenty trips wouldn’t be too many trips to this amazing destination. So, tacking on a few days extra for a second trip seems like a good idea.

The Gibb River road stretches from Derby to Kununurra in the far north of Western Australia, with plenty of camp grounds dotted along it’s length. The abundance of hikes, waterfalls, gorges and fresh water swimming holes means the trip can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks. I gather ten days is about normal to do it justice. So, we should have plenty of time to fit in the other side trips before heading back to Broome to pick up the Travel Home. I’m sure after three weeks of roughing it under canvas, and sleeping on air mattresses we’re going to be looking forward to getting back to the comforts of the caravan.

I just love the planning of our trips. I get almost as much joy out of the planning as I do from the trips. Life’s little pleasures! Gee it’s good to be alive.

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