Following the Gibb River Road means leaving the beaten track far behind. You’ll be taking a rugged 4x4 vehicle deep into Australia’s punishing northwest and into the heart of the Kimberley wilderness. You’ll have back-up, but you’ll be driving yourself along tough, mostly unsealed roads. Your rewards will be rich.
You’ll see places untouched by ordinary tours; awesome natural sights, wild outback bush, plunging gorges and glittering waterfalls. Not to mention places like Broome, Derby, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, Drysdale, El Questro, Kununurra, Bullo River, Katherine and Darwin.
Optional add on of 2 nights at Bamurru Plains at the end, supplement of £1,220 per person.
Pick up your 4×4 at the airport in this old pearling town and drive over to your beach-side hotel. As well as exploring this historic town, a great option is a scenic flight over the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago.
Stay: Two nights in a garden view room at the Cable Beach Club.
Now your road trip begins in earnest as you venture off en route from Broome to Derby – taking in some sweeping vistas and panoramic scenery along the way. You’ll stop off at the interesting community of Derby, a small settlement where about half the residents are of Aboriginal descent.
Stay: One night in an apartment at the Spinex Motel.
Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary
Stop often as you drive through the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, especially if you’re keen on birds. You’ll see Gouldian finches and purple-crowned fairy-wrens aplenty, as well as wild dingoes. The sanctuary is also rich in indigenous flora; one of the most interesting trees being the massively distended baobabs you’ll spot along the route. At the Wilderness Camp you’ll be able to take birdwatching tours, learn about the environment from evening talks and presentations and experience the Sir John Gorge Sunset Tour. The next day you can canoe deep into nearby Dimond Gorge.
Stay: Two nights in tented accommodation at Mornington Wilderness Camp.
No outback adventure would be complete without calling in at an archetypal bush trading post – a genuine combination of general store, filling station, roadhouse, farm, motel, campsite and restaurant (serving the most monumental burgers this side of the Dunn River). The welcome and the hospitality are as satisfying as the burgers and you can even take a scenic flight over the region.
Stay: Two nights in a Travellers Rest Room at the Drysdale River Station.
Give the road a miss for a while and take time out to explore a million acre wilderness park, framed by the glowing red rock of the Cockburn Ranges. Relax, swim in El Questro’s thermal Zebedee Springs, cruise through the Chamberlain Gorge or take a scenic flight over the area. Horse riding, fishing for fine-eating barramundi or walking through the bush are all options.
Stay: Two nights in a garden view bungalow at El Questro Station.
Back on the road, a short drive brings you to Kununurra where you’ll take an eye-opening cruise along the Ord River in search of indigenous wildlife. Early the next morning your small plane takes you on a scenic flight to Bungle Bungles. The adventure continues with hikes along the photogenic Northern Gorge’s Echidna Chasm, followed by visits to Cathedral Gorge and rocks shaped like enormous beehives. Then you can take an early evening flight back to Kununurra.
Stay: Two nights in a club room at Kununurra Country Club Resort.
Bullo River Station
Another chance to stay in a remote outback river station – but the Bullo also gives you an insight into life on a working ranch. You can have a hands-on experience of managing cattle and discovering the day-to-day activities on the station. You can also fish in the river, take a scenic cruise through the nearby gorge, go walkabout on a guided nature trek or try horse riding in the outback. Tours of the local Aboriginal rock art sites are also very rewarding.
Stay: Two nights in a guest room at Bullo River station.
You’ll find your next stop over is inside Nitmiluk National Park, just 32 km outside the quiet outback town of Katherine. Now you’re in gorge country so have your camera ready – the Nitmiluk Gorge is actually a series of 13 breath-taking gorges, all carved over thousands of years by the action of the Katherine River. It’s known as a dreaming place by the local Jawoyn people – not difficult to understand why.
Stay: Two nights in a Lodge room at Cicada Lodge.
Before setting off there’s time to explore the magnificent gorges of Nitmiluk National Park on a two-hour scenic cruise, as well as the chance along the way to cool off for a swim at Edith Falls.
Then it’s time to head north for a night in Darwin, before connecting with your flight home the next day.
Stay: One night in a city view apartment at Mantra Esplanade.