Gibb River Road in a Holden Captiva
by Nigel Jones
Holden Captiva rescuing the bogged Prado
I very wisely purchased your Destination Kimberley guide and constantly referred to it.
We're just back from 3 weeks touring around the Kimberleys driving our Holden Captiva (Series 2 LX diesel) towing a camper trailer (hired from Darwin). Must say I didn't see too many other soft roader AWD SUV's on the road, but the mighty Captiva performed very well.
I did fit some Kings springs to it to get an inch or two more clearance (a very good idea) and also got another set of wheels and tyres (Cooper AT3's) that I hoped would last more than a few km's along the Gibb RR, however had a flat in one of the tyres after travelling not very far which took a bit of sorting out.
Thanks to the great service at Home Valley Station, we were able to get another tyre sent up from Kununurra and keep to our itinerary.
Starting in Darwin, in 3 weeks we managed to get in order to El Questro (2 nights), Home Valley station (1 night), King Edward River/Mitchell Falls (2 nights), Manning Gorge (1 night), Bell Gorge (1 night), Broome (1 night), Kooljaman at Cape Leveque (4 nights), Windjana Gorge (1 night), Fitzroy Crossing (1 night), Kurrajong campground at Purnululu (3 nights) plus a couple of nights between Darwin and El Questro and a night at Sullivans near Victoria River on the way back to Darwin. So a busy trip but did we see some amazing country.
Lots of highlights - The #1 as voted by the family (including wife and 14 & 12 year old daughters) was Cape Leveque. Glorious place and could have stayed 4 weeks. Bungle Bungles were spectacular and I thought Echidna Chasm and Cathedral Gorge were pretty special.
Best surprise package was Galvans Gorge which the kids particularly enjoyed the swimming and waterfall. The weather was also great (we come from Melbourne) - not enjoying being back in Melbourne's winter weather at all!
Lowlight apart from the flat tyre would have to be the Kalumburu road - it was horrid, so it was lucky that the road from the Mitchell Falls turnoff after the King Edward River had just been graded when we drove it and the falls themselves were spectacular otherwise I would question going there by road. Did an heli trip up there which I would recommend.
Surprise was how good the Gibb River Road was, particularly after crossing the Pentecost river. By far the worst bit was from the turnoff from the highway after Kununurra to the Pentecost river. I'd happily drive it again.
We travelled with friends driving a Prado with the expectation that they would tow us out if we got into trouble. Therefore it was much to our amusement that we rescued the Prado after it became bogged in the sand up at Cape Leveque whilst on Bundy's cultural tour (another highlight) - refer photo.
Thanks for all you advice in your guide and on the website, which I studied in detail before heading off.
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