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.
“I don’t suppose you have a working jack, do you?” I asked.
The hardy-looking man in the car guffawed. “I’d be stupid not to on this road, wouldn’t I? I’ve already changed two tyres today”.
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 – the Gibb River Road is littered with sharp, jagged rocks of all sorts of sizes. It’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 wasn’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 rocks…. I thought as I gripped my steering wheel tight.
It’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 – and untouched – 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 – 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 – but felt as if I was on top of the world. I could see the path in which I’d walked up and could just about make out where my car was parked next to a boab tree – 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 line…
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 – 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 today’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. She’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