2009 wet season in the Kimberley?

by Marc Baudet
(Bruz , FRANCE)

(Edit: Please also see the comments below for a 2010 update.)

A Broome based tour operator let me know that the Kimberley wet season could last longer this year and recommends to travel as late as possible in May. I already read your pocket guide and am absolutely amazed by the amount of information and links it offers!

I intend to download tomorrow (it is a bit too late in France by now to read it...) the complete Kimberley guide, but I have already a question: as my flight back to France from Perth is on 29 May, I intended to arrive in Broome on 8 May and travel with a rented 4WD campervan from 13/5 to 23/5 :

- Great Northern Highway first to Kununurra, in about 7 days
- Gibb River Road back to Broome, in 6 days

Sure, I know that the weather conditions are very unpredictable so long time before: but what is your feeling about that planning? The Great Northern Highway must remain opened even in case the Gibb is closed?

And what about beginning by Kununurra (direct from Perth), as you seem to suggest it is a quieter place than the too busy Broome?
I should be glad to have your opinion
Danke
Marc Baudet (France)

Comments for 2009 wet season in the Kimberley?

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Jan 05, 2009
Any wet season can last longer...
by: Birgit

Hi Marc,

Thanks for the kind words. Glad you find the free guide so useful. And good to see you understand that weather can't be predicted. It's amazing how few people do understand that!

Well, the Broome operator is right. The wet season could last longer. That's as true this year as it is every year :-). It could always last longer...

The weather bureau has indeed forecast a wetter than normal season. (You can predict that kind of thing from the ocean temperatures). But that still doesn't tell us when and where exactly the rain will fall, which path exactly the cyclones or monsoonal troughs will take, when the last one will move through... A couple of late cyclones on the west coast could even suck cloud and moisture away from the east Kimberley...

Bottom line, the road opening dates are as unpredictable as ever.

Yes, the highway will be open in May. It really only gets cut off during major rainy periods and cyclones.

Starting in Kununurra is not an option as you can't hire a 4WD campervan from here, only a standard 4WD. Broome is not too bad in early May, but do book all your accommodation in Broome ahead.

I think your schedule is good. You start on the highway and leave the Gibb River Road till last, that gives you the best chance to get across it. The Bungles track is the first to open, the Gibb next and the Kalumburu Road and the track up on the Mitchell Plateau last (can well be June).

If you arrive in Broome and it is obvious that the Durack or Pentecost River will not drop low enough to do the whole length of the Gibb River Road, you will still be able to see the western half of it and El Questro on the eastern side.

Whatever happens, it should be a great trip!

Jun 01, 2010
2010 Update
by: Birgit

I thought I'd update this thread with some observations.

The 2009 wet season did NOT last long at all. It was a good wet season with lots of rain, but it started very early (with the first cyclone hitting us early December) and it finished early (no substantial rains after February).

On the other hand the 2010 wet season was a rather dry one. It seemed to end very early again. And then, at a time when nobody expected it, after all the roads had opened already, it returned! During the second half of May it rained on and off, with same very heavy downpours, for a full two weeks.

The Gibb River Road remained open for the whole time for vehicles under 3T. The highway of course also stayed open as I indicated it would in my original answer. But all the national parks were closed.

So there you go... When it comes to our wet seasons, the only thing we can predict for sure is that they will again be unpredictable.

Apr 04, 2011
Road Conditions 2011 - Wet Season
by: robin

My partner and I will be traveling through your beautiful part of the country during the peak of July, August 2011 and we have heard the roads have been badly damaged by the continuing wet weather (as of April 4th).

Are road reports posted on your very valuable and informative website? Or what is the best way to find out while we are on the move?

Apr 07, 2011
Kimberley road conditions
by: Birgit

Hi Robin,

Please see this page. For most roads and tracks, wet season damage does not have much to do with road conditions in July/August. (This year may be different for some remote and low lying tracks in July.)

Roads get damaged every wet season (though not usually as bad as this year). And then, once they are dry enough, they get fixed.
The page also has a couple of links to road reports online. (Scroll down to the section about the start of the season.)

The best way to get accurate, current road reports is to make use of the comprehensive list of contacts and resources in the Appendix of Destination Kimberley and contact the people who are right there or who look after any roads or tracks (stations, national park rangers etc.), and to talk to other travelers on the road.

Aug 04, 2011
Kimberley/Gibb River road visit
by: Anonymous

Hi,

I am a female wanting to travel from U.K. in 2012 to Kimberley area and def want to include the iconic Gibb River Road.

Need to make a decision fairly soon as to what month in 2012 would be most likely to avoid significant rainfall - realize not "guarantees". Ideally would have liked to travel during our UK winter but realize that not possible access-wise for GRR.

Am I likely to be reasonably safe for mid-May or is it too early to tell for 2012. Any comments(sensible and polite please!) are welcomed.

Aug 16, 2011
Gibb River Road
by: Robin

My partner and myself traveled the Gibb Road about the end of May 2011. Great, fabulous trip. Because we have a 2 wheel drive Ford Hirise and towing a Jayco outback campervan, we observed all the dos and don'ts and never had a problem.

The road was being repaired in places on the west side of Mr Barnett Roadhouse and the workers were more than happy for us to follow their earth moving equipment through the worst sections.

I think the view from the hill just prior to crossing the Pentacost River (east side) looking east and west is one of the most memorable views we have ever seen. I highly recommend the trip even though we missed seeing a few highlights because of road and gorge closures.

There is always next time.

Aug 16, 2011
Gibb River Road, Thanks Robin
by: Anonymous

Thanks Robin for your info regarding your travels on GRR late May. I am beginning to wonder if my plans for early May 2012 are a bit premature and I should reschedule for late May.

Understand though that come mid June onwards Broome etc can get pretty crowded with Aussies coming from colder parts of their country for some warmth.

Again, it's down to what that weather is going to do and how long the next wet season will last ... all very unpredictable.

Dec 07, 2012
So... Mid March/ April Not Such a Good Idea?
by: Tonia (belgium)

Hi!

First I want to say I'm glad I've found this site on the internet while I was looking for info for my little trip in Australia (I only have about 6 or 7 weeks).

But as I read all this (when to go to WA and NT vs weather) I begin to think that our idea (we're two people) of going to Australia from mid March till end April isn't such a good idea, especially as we'd like to travel from Perth to Darwin, along the West Coast with a rented 4WD, and then also visit the Red Centre in a week. (We’d take an airplane from Darwin to Alice Springs and hire another car in Alice Springs).

I think that the trip is doable with the weeks that we have.

As I understand it's better to travel with a 4WD. (because my partner would like to rent a 2WD campervan, but I don't think that'll do...). Will it be possible to do the trip from Perth till Darwin in that time of the year? I would really like to change my visit to OZ and go from mid-April till end May, but that's not possible because of personal things here at home. :s

Do you think then that it may not be worth it because roads, NP's and other things to see could be closed? And is it possible that, when it had rained a lot, all roads between let's say Broome and Darwin could be closed, so that the only thing we could do is take a plane to Darwin?

I hope it's all a bit clear.

Thanks in advance for reading and (I hope) answering me :)

Take care!
Tonia

Dec 07, 2012
Kimberley wet season
by: Birgit

Hi Tonia,

The highway should be open. I can't guarantee it, but I would not expect it to be closed at all. If it is, it would only be for a few days. And it won't hit you out of the blue because cyclones and big monsoonal depressions don't hit out of the blue. We know a week ahead when a lot of rain is heading our way. Just keep an eye on the weather.

National parks in the Kimberley will mostly be closed. The parks around Darwin will be accessible, though not all the attractions in them will be.

The Red Centre will be beautiful that time of the year. I think April is a great time to see it.

If March/April is the time you have available, just go and make the most of it. A 4WD will certainly help.

Dec 07, 2012
Fantastic!
by: Tonia

Hi Birgit!

I must say, I didn't expect to have an answer the same day I asked my question! This is fantastic :)

Thanks a lot for your comments!

Take care and thumbs up for your site!
Tonia

Aug 13, 2013
April trip to the Kimberley
by: Jon

Hi,

I've just come across this excellent site which has really helped in my planning for a trip in April next year. Thank-you for putting together such a great resource.

Reading the note above has made me wonder whether my itinerary is feasible. We will be hiring a 4wd campervan in Perth at the end of March, arriving into Broome around 14th April. We then have two weeks to get to Darwin and I was hoping to do the Gibb River Road, Bungle Bungles and Kakadu in this time.

Whilst I know it can't be guaranteed, I was hoping the last two weeks in April would be late enough for the parks to be open - is this likely to be the case?

Thanks so much

Jon

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