Caravanning the Gibb is an adventure of a lifetime that we all should do before a smart tourism minister figures we could attract more travellers if the famous west Australian adventure road through the Kimberley was paved. Don’t laugh. Statistics, like politicians, don’t lie; they just have no imagination!
But the Gibb River Road is only part of the Kimberley and it’s where the road takes you and the places you stay that make it memorable. Some are commercial properties, some are national parks, some are nature reserves, but they are all special to me.
So here are my top Kimberley campsites. While the information below was believed accurate at the time of writing, rules and regulations can change at short noticed. Do your own pre-trip homework – it’s part of the fun!
Anyhow, here are my top four picks…
THE KIMBERLEY’S MANNING GORGE
The camping ground itself winds around the banks of the Manning River, so if you want seclusion you can go to its extremities.
I have a fascination for those giant boab trees you see everywhere in the Kimberley and the campground has one of the largest you’ll find, so that did it at ‘hello’ for me!
The only downer in the campground is the spiky burrs that can even penetrate soft sandles, so I would recommend boots (as for everywhere in Australia’s outback regions).
Manning Gorge is accessed by a 7km dusty but otherwise fairly easy track north of the Mount Barnett Roadhouse, which is on the Gibb River Road around 108km south-west of the turn-off to Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau.
There’s nothing stopping them.
Yes, in a cleared area.
Only within certain hours.
Basic, with variable hot showers.
Early June before peak tourist time, or in the second half of September, when they are gone!
The campsite views of the gorge and its rocky outcrops formed by the foothills of the King Leopold Range are great for dawn and sundowner contemplation, but you need to be alert when you enter the gorge because of the large number of crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the tributary of the Barker River that winds through it.
Don’t forget your camera and, ideally a tripod, as there are some magnificent shots to be had of the sandstone cliffs in the ever-changing light. And yes, there are also boab trees, but they are not so large here!
Windjana Gorge National Park is 146km north-west of Fitzroy Crossing and 144km east of Derby.
No, it’s a national park and you are not meant to feed the crocs!
Yes, in concrete fire pits provided.
There is a separate area for RVs with generators, but we’d recommend it even if you haven’t got one – there are fewer people there so there’s a great choice of sites!
Tank water, drop toilets.
Early June or second half of September when temperatures are milder.
As well as a beautiful green, grassy camping ground (with big boabs), there’s a camp kitchen and you can get food, drinks, etc. Allow time to do a station tour and explore other aspects of this great property while you are there.
Home Valley is about 30km from the El Questro turn-off. You’ll know the Pentecost as its where all those great river crossing pictures are taken with the spectacular Cockburn Range in the background.
No, pets are not allowed.
Only in designated areas.
Yes, but time limits apply.
Excellent by Gibb River Road standards, with flushing toilets, hot showers, etc.
Early or late in the season. If before June, you’ll need to keep an eye on the road information on the WA Roads website to determine whether the Gibb is open. Once it is, the graders start to roll from both ends and you’ll have a smooth trip and passable river crossings, as they will drop rocks in the two biggest crossings of the Pentecost and Durack rivers.
Later in the season the river crossings are shallower, but the roads are more corrugated because of all the seasonal vehicle traffic. Take your pick!