Gibb River Road
Standing on the side of the road, I heard the welcome sound of a roar of an engine. Soon after, a vehicle came careering around the corner, and halted to a stop after I flagged it down.
â€œI donâ€™t suppose you have a working jack, do you?â€ I asked.
The hardy-looking man in the car guffawed. â€œIâ€™d be stupid not to on this road, wouldnâ€™t I? Iâ€™ve already changed two tyres todayâ€.
We were on the Gibb River Road, one of the most remote roads in the world. The stretch is over 660 kilometres long; most of which is gravel. Not any old gravel, as well â€“ the Gibb River Road is littered with sharp, jagged rocks of all sorts of sizes. Itâ€™s incredibly easy for one of these to slice into your tyre, deflating it like a balloon.
Which is exactly what had happened to me ten minutes earlier. Subsequently, I realised that my jack wasnâ€™t functional and I would have to rely on a kind stranger to help me out.
Luckily, ten minutes later I was on the road again. Unluckily, that was my only spare tyre and I still had over 300 kilometres of Gibb River Road to go. Mind those rocksâ€¦. I thought as I gripped my steering wheel tight.
Itâ€™s a wonder why I chose to put myself through this outback ordeal, when the tarmac highway to the south, while longer distance-wise, would take considerably less time. But this region of Western Australia is amongst the most beautiful â€“ and untouched â€“ in the world, and there was no way I was missing out on this trip.
The Kimberley region of Western Australia is three times larger than England and has a population of under 40,000 people. Parts of it are virtually inaccessible; others only by a well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicle. The Gibb River Road slices through the middle of the region, spanning breath-taking gorges, mesmerising waterfalls and the red rock that the Kimberley has become famous for.
I camped the next night at the end of a track off the side of the main road, and the next morning, decided to walk down one of the pathways leading off the clearing to see where I ended up. I walked for about ten minutes, past a bubbling stream and under low hanging branches, until a swimming hole and waterfall opened up to me. People had obviously been there before; there was a rope tied to a branch which I guessed visitors had used to launch themselves into the swimming hole below â€“ but right now it was gloriously untouched.
Seeing the steep cliff face before me, I wondered if it was possible to reach the top of the waterfall by climbing around the side of the rock. Worth a go, I thought, as I mapped out a possible route. Twenty minutes of tough climbing later I was on top of the waterfall â€“ but felt as if I was on top of the world. I could see the path in which Iâ€™d walked up and could just about make out where my car was parked next to a boab tree â€“ which the Kimberley region is famous for. I could see the Gibb River Road stretching past the turning until it became nothing more than a narrow gravel lineâ€¦
On the Gibb River Road Again
Which reminded me, it was once again time to hit the road. I tentatively climbed down the rock edge and located my car â€“ which now had its wheels deflated to a much lower pressure, with the hopes that there would be no more tyre dramas!
Climbing back into the car, I turned the ignition on once again and gripped the wheel tightly as I started reversing out of my spot. It was time for todayâ€™s adventure.
Written by: Claire Martin
Claire is a British travel blogger on a mission to get to the heart of places by overland adventures. She writes about eco-travel and travelling with purpose, by slow travelling and adventuring overland, on her blog. Sheâ€™s spent lots of time in the UK, Guatemala and China and she is currently road tripping through Australia. Keep updated with her adventures on www.clairesfootsteps.com
All photos by: Claire Martin