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We share our best tips on getting the most from a 4WD self-drive holiday along the Gibb River Road ... affectionally referred to as "The Gibb" -- where to start and finish, what part of the season is best, what the weather is like, what are the driving conditions, how long your holiday should be and what type of accommodation is available.
4WD Windjana & Tunnel Creek Tour

When is the best time to travel?

The Gibb River Road running between Derby to Kununurra is open from late April or early May, depending on the amount of wet season rain. The Gibb is usually open until November. Early in the season (April, May, June) offers you the beautiful contrast of the red pindan soil with the lush and green vegetation.

What’s the weather like?

The temperature is usually about 30 degrees (celcius) during the day. It gets down to mid-teens at night. Later in the season, potentially early to mid-September the temperatures can be 36C to 38C with a degree of humidity particularly around Kununurra and the East Kimberley region. If you have the flexibility of travel dates, the early part of the season is preferred.

Do you need a 4WD for the Gibb River Road?

Absolutely yes! The unsealed road is graded at the start of the season, but due to continued use, the road becomes very corrugated towards September. Car hire companies will not allow or insure 2WD vehicles to drive the Gibb River Road, and even with your own vehicle, we would not recommend it. A broken axle is not the way to enjoy your holiday! It can be an expensive exercise to be towed out from the Gibb River Road.

Most people will hire a 4WD in Broome as the access point to The Kimberley. One other friendly reminder: 4WD hire companies only insure driving between the hours of dusk to dawn. The Gibb River Road is also not recommended for towing a caravan, trailer, or boat.

Gibb River Road Map
(Click on the map to enlarge)

How long is the Gibb River Road and what are the driving conditions?

The Gibb River Road is an unsealed, rocky earth road of approximately 700kms in length. It begins east of Derby through to 60kms west of Kununurra. The road is graded at the start of the season, so a smoother ride is possible in the early part of the season. As the season progresses, the road becomes more corrugated due to the number of 4WDs using the road. The average travelling speed is 60-80kms an hour.

You can see in this video here what it’s like from inside a 4WD! Have a quick look at the corrugated driving conditions you’ll experience on The Gibb:

Take your time

When planning your Gibb River Road self-drive itinerary, our advice is to relax and enjoy this most beautiful part of The Kimberley and in fact Australia. We have had clients who think that with just 700kms from end to end it can be done in just a few days. Well yes, you could do this, but you will be driving most of the time without taking in the magnificent sights.

What duration should my Gibb River Road holiday be?

The Gibb River Road should be given the respect of a minimum seven nights travel between Broome and Kununurra. The Gibb commences at Derby with 712kms to Kununurra. We recommend:

  • Three nights in the West Kimberley (around Bell Gorge and Mt Barnett including Manning Gorge), plus
  • One to two nights in the middle region (Mt Elizabeth Station / Drysdale River Station). Drysdale River Station has options for scenic flights to Mitchell Falls, plus
  • Finally, three to four nights taking in the East Kimberley at Home Valley Station and/or El Questro Wilderness Park.

Why Broome to Broome?

Travelling Broome to Broome along the Gibb River Road, then back via the Northern Highway, will allow visitors to experience the rugged terrain of the unsealed ‘Gibb’ with all its spectacular gorges, river crossings and unique scenery. The road loops around to the Great Northern Highway allowing a side trip to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park), China Wall at Halls Creek & Geikie Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing.

The other advantage of travelling Broome to Broome is that one way drop fees on 4WD vehicle hire are not applicable. Allow 12 to 14 nights for the round trip.

Our 13 Day Ultimate 4WD Gibb River Road Adventure self-drive package starts and finishes in Broome and takes in our recommended itinerary and places to stay.

Why Broome to Kununurra?

Travelling between Broome and Kununurra (one way) will offer you a shorter holiday but still taking in all the Gibb River Road sights. Once in Kununurra, there are opportunities to take a full day tour or a scenic flight to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park) and a full day tour of Lake Argyle & the Ord River. More info can be found in our East Kimberley Aerial Tours, Bungle Bungle Tours and our East Kimberley Day Tours.

Be wary of the one way drop fees which can be up to $770.00. Allow 7 to 8 nights for the one-way journey. There are commercial flights operating out of Kununurra to Darwin, Broome and Perth.

Why Broome to Darwin?

The journey between Broome and Darwin or vice versa will give you all the highlights of the Gibb River Road as well as the opportunity to visit Katherine (Nitmiluk National Park), Kakadu National Park & potentially Litchfield National Park.

Our 14 day Broome to Darwin 4WD Experience Self-Drive Package is ideal for this journey.

Again, be wary of the one way drop fees which can be up to $770.00. Allow 12 to 14 nights when undertaking this journey.

Camping or Accommodated?

This is a personal choice and can come down to budget.

Certainly, camping will help the hip pocket but remember you either need to hire a 4WD Safari vehicle (campervan) which would include an annexe tent, fridge & mini kitchen or a regular 4WD and take your own gear. The other factor to keep in mind is that the camp sites are often booked out during the peak season, so bookings are recommended to be made well in advance of arrival.

Pre-booking your Gibb River Road accommodation, staying at the various cattle stations or glamping tents is highly recommended to avoid disappointment. Accommodation is ‘Kimberley rustic’ in its style, either tented, homestead style or station accommodation. You will encounter at various locations the corrugated iron style synonymous in The Kimberley. The Gibb River Road accommodation is clean, comfortable but not always including ensuite facilities.

See our accommodation links at the top of this page for all available options for accommodation along the Gibb River Road, and places to stay in Darwin, Broome and Kununurra.

Booking your 4WD Self-Drive Tour

To experience The Gibb yourself, we offer you the choice of our 4WD self-drive package itineraries, or 4WD vehicles (including a Landcruiser campervan) to create your own tailored experience.

Refer to the pages below here on our site for each of our 4WD self-drive packages and 4WD hire options.

Gibb River Road 4WD Self-Drive Packages

4WD Hire

Gibb River Road 4WD experience image gallery

Click on our Gibb River Road images below to see more about what it’s like along various sections of The Gibb.

River Crossing Videos

See what The Gibb is like from inside a 4WD!

Here are two more short videos we have posted that show you what it’s like from inside a 4WD when crossing waterways along The Gibb. The first video shows you the crossing at Pentecost River, while the second video shows you one of the short waterway crossing on your way in to El Questro station.

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