Travelling the Gibb River Road – Road Safety Tips

The Gibb River Road is a trip Dixie and I are constantly talking about and hope to do soon. Today we have a guest blogger Rosemary McGugian who is the owner and operator of Best Of The Kimberley, the holiday and tour planning specialists in Broome.  If you are planning on doing this trip I trust that her below tips will help you with your preparation.

01166 v2 Cirrus media - Credit Australia’s North West TourismSource Image Australia’s North West Tourism

Some 30,000+ vehicles traverse the Gibb River Road each year, with most of that travel undertaken in the warm, dry season months of May to October.  The road mostly closed during the wet season months of November/December to March/April.  

Most travellers enjoy the ride, take in the scenery, explore and swim in gorges, and have an experience of a lifetime.  

There are some travellers who are inexperienced at travelling independently in remote locations and a little unsure of what to expect, and those travellers who have ‘been there, and done that’ who perhaps are not as cautious as they should be!   With many people planning their Kimberley travels in 2016, we provide the following tips/reminders driving safely in the magnificent Kimberley region of Western Australia.  With a little patience and care you too can ‘survive’ driving the Gibb River Road!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHire Vehicles:

GRRIf you are driving a hire vehicle, check that the hire company has provided permission for you to travel along the Gibb River Road.  Some companies do not permit their vehicles to be driven on the Gibb River Road at all, and driving a vehicle that is not permitted, can negate any insurance coverage.

Hire car companies in the Kimberley void insurance coverage on hire vehicles that are damaged when driven between dawn and dusk outside of the townsites.  Please refer to the terms and conditions when you collect your hire vehicle.

Animals and wildlife:

Wildlife

Many cattle stations are unfenced and it is not uncommon to encounter wandering stock and wildlife. Serious accidents can occur due to collisions with kangaroos, cattle and various other animals and birds.  If possible, avoid driving at dawn and dusk as these are the most dangerous times.

 

 

Road trains and caravan:  

These are a unique part of travelling in Australia’s North West. The sheer size of these massive vehicles can be overwhelming with some more than 50 metres in length!  Take care when overtaking road trains and only do so when you can clearly see the road ahead.  With the improved condition of sections of the Gibb River Road over the year, you may also encounter vehicles towing caravans.   Be aware that dust and stones can be kicked up on unsealed roads, obscuring vision and potentially damaging your vehicle.

Signage:        

Road ClosedPlease obey all signage on the Gibb River Road and other access roads.  If you encounter a ROAD CLOSED sign, this does mean CLOSED and penalties apply should you traverse a closed road.  Roads may seem to be closed for reasons that are not necessarily obvious at the signage area.  They are not closed to annoy travellers!   You may also negate your vehicle insurance should you have a mishap on a closed road!

Not all pastoral properties and Aboriginal communities are open to travellers.  Please respect pastoral properties and Aboriginal communities, as these areas are their homes and some have cultural significance.  Do not enter pastoral properties or Aboriginal communities without prior permission.

Unsealed Roads:

Unsealed surfaces are unpredictable and caution must be taken at all times!

Gibb River Road scenery - Credit BOTK

Speed:    

It goes without saying that you should always drive to the conditions of the road, but some drivers get out on the open road and forget what dangers are lurking!  If the road is corrugated, has multiple potholes, is winding with many corners or soft loose gravel – reduce your speed.  Remember that you will not be able to drive at the same speed as on a sealed road. It will take you longer to get to your destination.

Corrugations:     

Corrigations

Driving on corrugations can be quite hazardous.  Always be cautious and slow down when rounding curves as speed may cause loss of traction and control of your vehicle or trailer. Try to avoid overtaking on corrugations – be patient, an opportunity will arise.

 

Dust:    

Driving on unsealed roads will always produce dust.

  • Always drive with your headlights on low beam, this will make you more visible to oncoming traffic and traffic ahead of you.
  • Never overtake someone if you cannot see what is coming the other way through the dust.
  • Be patient, reduce your speed and stay alert you may catch up to the vehicle in front but not see them through the dust.
  • Do not stop unnecessarily as there maybe another vehicle behind you. If you need to stop pull off the road.
  • Do not move to the centre of the road, stay on the left hand side at all times. Dust can linger in the air if there is no wind. If dust lingers, keep your speed to a minimum until you have clear vision and remember:

If you are planning to travel the Gibb River Road this ‘dry season’, check out the latest road conditions before travelling from the following sources:

The latest road condition reports are available from the following:

  • Main Road WA: https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au (Regional Works/Conditions; Kimberley Region)
  • Shire of Broome: 08 9191 3456
  • Shire of Derby West Kimberley: 08 9191 0999
  • Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley: 08 9168 4100
  • Shire of Halls Creek: 08 9168 6007

Author Bio: Rosemary McGugian is the owner and operator of Best Of The Kimberley, the holiday and tour planning specialists in Broome. Best Of The Kimberley helps you organise your holiday in and around beautiful Broome in Western Australia from self-drive itineraries to luxurious cruises to guided day tours. There is so much to see in this stunning part of Australia that you’ll want to go back every year!

15 thoughts on “Travelling the Gibb River Road – Road Safety Tips

  1. We did this trip in July/Aug. I can’t believe how fast people drive this road, you could literally hear their cars falling apart. Even driving slow the vibrations take their toll. The scenery is a just reward for the hard work getting there.

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  2. If you are planning to travel in the Kimberley you will be well served by the personal advice given by Rosemary at Best of the Kimberley. She takes into account safety and the best experience. She has first hand knowledge of the region – which can be challenging to the uninitiated.
    Travel with the Best !
    Gerri

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