12 days Darwin to Broome via Gibb River Road

by Damian

We are planning a self drive trip from Darwin to Broome in early June. (No need to tell me that 12 days is not long enough. If I could I would take four weeks off around the Kimberleys, however, my partner is limited to two weeks.)

My partner and I are attending a conference in Darwin (and a Kakadu tour). My partner has never been to the NT. I have planned the first two/three days doing what we can before we swing into the Kimberleys.

Could you cast your eye over what I have planned? Do you think it is just too much of a rush? And do you have figures for the kilometres where you see the ??? Also, is it worth going to Geikie Gorge or would we be squeezing in too much?

The vehicle we are thinking of hiring from Britz is the Bushcamper 4WD. I just went into Flight Centre and asked them to tailor one of the self drive holidays in one of the brochures they had (which excluded visiting Mitchell Falls). Hence why you see the accommodation (and the costs are impressive!!!). We would be happy to camp instead wherever that's possible.

  • Day 1: Tuesday, 10 June 2008: Pick up Vehicle and drive to Litchfield NP. 1/2 day at Litchfield. Late afternoon drive to Katherine. Night at Katherine (Knotts Crossing Resort.) Total km for the day: 494
  • Day 2: Full day Explorer Katherine Gorge Tour or Hire Canoes. Night at Katherine. 64 km.
  • Day 3: Katherine to Kununurra via Gregory and Keep River National Parks. Night at Kununurra (Kununurra Lakeside Resort). 512 km.
  • Day 4: Joy Flight over Lake Argyle and Bungle Bungles. Drive to Bungle Bungles. Night at Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge. 295 km.
  • Day 5: Various walks within the Bungle Bungles. Night at Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge.
  • Day 6: Bungle Bungles to El Questro, Emma Gorge on the way to El Questro. Night at Voyages El Questro Emma Gorge. 324 km.
  • Day 7: Zebedee Springs and El Questro Gorge. Head towards Mitchell and Merten Falls. Camping. km ???
  • Day 8: Arrive Mitchel Falls and all day walk to Falls. (Perhaps start driving back to GRR.) Camping. km ???
  • Day 9: Drive to Imintji, via Barnett River and/or Manning and/or Galvans Gorge. APT Imintji Wilderness Camp. 380 km.
  • Day 10: Bell Gorge. Night at APT Imintji Wilderness Camp. 74 km.
  • Day 11: Imintji to Broome, via Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge. Night at Cable Beach Club Resort, Broome. 425 km plus ??? (side trip to Windjana and Tunnel Creek).
  • Day 12: Full day in Broome.

I was not looking at Cape Leveque. That is half the problem, the more you read about the Kimberleys the more you want to see and do. Perhaps one day we will have a conference in Broome to attend and we can spend two weeks seeing all the things we didn't get to see, in particular, Cape Leveque.

I hope what I have asked does not take up too much of your time. Perhaps a visit to your five acres may be just one of your little additions for which I can then thank you in person for your assistance and terrific guide to the region which you have put onto the web. It is a great site.

I look forward to the full guide coming out as it will be my main reference for our planning. Keep up your terrific work.

12 Days Darwin to Broome via Gibb River Road: Feedback

Looks like you've done your home work well!

I think you will be under the gun a bit with the detour to the Mitchell Falls. It's 231 km from Emma Gorge to the turn off for the Kalumburu Road, and 245 km from the turn off to the Mitchell Falls campground.

The last 85 km alone take at least two hours. (What you will find on the Kalumburu Road is hard to predict. Depends when it's last been graded.)

I think you'll be ok getting up there, but coming back down, and see Manning Gorge, and drive to Imintji, all in one day... It's a long walk into Manning Gorge and there is much to explore when you get there. This is a gorge I wouldn't skip.

You'll end up having to push it. Keep in mind that the faster you drive the more likely you are to blow a tyre.

Also check with you hire company about insurance for the Mitchell Plateau. I doubt you would be covered for that part.

You can camp all the way, even at El Questro. Since you plan to buy the guide anyway I won't go into details here. But rest assured that you don't need to pay for accommodation unless you want to.

Camping will also make you very flexible, which helps with the itinerary. But one thing to consider is that you want to stop for the night while there is still plenty of daylight left. Sunset times vary as you move from east to west, but by 6 pm it will be pitch black night. In June the sun sets just after 5!

Other comments:

You don't need a full day at Bell Gorge. It's a short walk.

You can save time and money by skipping the plane flight from Kununurra and doing only a helicopter flight from within the Bungles instead.

Windjana Gorge is 20 km from the t/o, and Tunnel Creek is 35 km south of Windjana. 110 km all up there and back.

If you have the time for Geikie Gorge, why not. If you die without having seen it, I don't think it's a big drama. The eastern wall of the gorge is very picturesque, and the tours by the Bunaba are also interesting.
The place doesn't do much for me. I think at the end of such a trip it wouldn't be a highlight. But others think it's fabulous. I'd say, leave it open. See how you feel and how much time you have left when you get there.

To be honest, I'm looking forward to the full guide being available, too, because it does indeed cover all these questions... :-).

Hope in the meantime this helps!

Update: the full Kimberley guide is now available here.

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