To Gibb or Not To Gibb

Equipped with the gear, the Huths weighed up the pros and cons of travelling the Gibb River Road

When you have an off-road caravan it is almost expected that you will take it off-road, otherwise why have an offroader? But, when you talk about off-road what sort of roads are you talking about.

We’ve had our Sunland offroader for about eight years now, and I always thought that going into a national park, or even coming in and out of our home (we live on a dirt road) was dirt-road enough. When we started talking about taking a trip to WA, travelling with friends, the idea was raised about going really off-road and driving the Gibb River Road. Well, I have to admit that was not high on my list of must do’s.

Strangely, I was overruled! I could understand the reasoning about how it made the trip logical, but I just didn’t want to spend so many days on a dirt road. I had an expectation that I would be shaken to bits, the car would fall apart and our beloved van would suddenly develop holes everywhere and I would have to climb over a mountain of dirt when we were setting up for the night. I might be slightly exaggerating there, but I really was not happy about the decision.

Still, what could I do? Five wanted to do it and I didn’t. As I believe in the fundamentals of democracy, I had to agree to go – with reservations.

What’s a Dirt Road, anyway?

In 2021 we left the Sunshine Coast and headed to NT which meant that we did hit some dirt roads before the Gibb, not many and not long ones. We did some sandy roads too, it was all preparation for the Gibb.

Well, we hit the Gibb heading west to El Questro, and it was sealed. I thought ‘what was I worried about?’ until we turned off the Gibb to El Questro. Then we discovered what a much driven, in need of grading, road was like. We had already dropped the tyre pressure and we knew to drive slowly.

We have heard some people say that the best way to deal with corrugations is to drive really fast so that you fly over them. Given that we saw a couple of set ups with camper trailers fly past us a couple of times, only for us to catch up to them when they were changing yet another tyre, we were glad we had disregarded that ‘fly over’ suggestion.

Did the Gibb live up to my expectations? In all honesty no it didn’t, possibly because I thought it was going to be so horrendous. What we did find was that the road was divided into three sections, which were constantly changing.

The sections were

1. Really needed grading and corrugations everywhere

2. Recently graded and not too bad considering the amount of traffic

3. Being graded and smooth and easy, almost like a normal road

We spent about two weeks on the Gibb, lots of places to stay, some homesteads, some free camping, a fairly new caravan park, plenty of swimming holes and gorgeous scenery.

Yes, we got a tiny bit of dirt in the van, nothing to worry about and simply caused because we needed to re-silicone one spot. The car didn’t fall apart, although losing the number plate in a river crossing was a bit amusing. We did meet corrugations, and they could be a bit rough but with the right driving techniques it was all doable. Now, I can sit back and say that I have done the Gibb.