Off-Road Caravans on the Gibb River Road

by Garry Hosie
(Melbourne)

I'm contemplating towing a 16 foot Regal Off-Road van (single axle - independent suspension) on the Gibb River Road, with the option of heading out to the Mitchell Plateau. Can you give me an opinion on how you think this sort of van would cope with the Gibb River Road?

I do have the option to tent it for the Mitchell Plateau, if I can leave the van at Drysdale River Station - do you know if this would be possible?
I would be towing with a Prado.

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Related Reader Pages:
Towing a caravan on the Gibb River Road
Standard caravans on the Gibb River Road
Caravans On The Gibb River Road (Storage)
Our trip with a caravan down the Gibb (trip report)

Comments for Off-Road Caravans on the Gibb River Road

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Nov 12, 2008

by: Birgit

Hi Gary,

From what I know (and I'm not a caravan specialist) the Regals are pretty well built.

People have taken Regals or comparable vans across the Gibb River Road without encountering major problems. Still, I can't predict how well yours will cope at the time.

I don't know what the next wet season will do to the road.

I don't know what time of the year you'll go. (River crossings)

I don't know how many days before you hit the road it will have last been graded.

I don't know how many people will have driven along it since, how much too fast and how overloaded they were. (That's what ruins the roads so fast after they have been graded. Excessive speed and load.)

I don't know how you drive.

Vans do fall apart on the Gibb River Road. Even the toughest dedicated off-road vans do fall apart if people drive too fast and have too much air in their tyres.

So if you take that van, drop your tyres and take it easy and you should be fine.

Yes, you can leave the van at Drysdale. You could also leave it at the King Edward River campground. Leaving it somewhere makes it easier on you, easier on the van and easier on the roads up there.

Nov 13, 2008
Correction
by: Garry

Birgit - Thanks for the response, actually the van is a Regent (still in the process of purchasing & got the name wrong!). We're not going until mid next year - but beginning preparation. Thanks for the advice re tyre pressures & speed.
Garry

Nov 25, 2008
Off road vans on the Gibb
by: Jock

Garry, not sure about the make up of the Regent but be confident to take any good off roader on the Gibb. 9 times out of 10 the worst section will be from the Wyndham turnoff to El Questro and if you take things carefully you should be right.
If the Kalumburu Rd is alright take your van to the campsite at the Mitchell Falls turnoff but don't try to take it into the falls.

The main thing is to gain as much local knowledge on the road condition as possible and not so much of the tourist opinion because for someone who hasn't done a lot of gravel road driving anything can be deemed as rough.

Just take your time and enjoy it, I reckon you need a minimum of 6 weeks on the Gibb itself just to see some of the most marvellous scenery you will see anywhere and May is brilliant as hopefully the rivers are still high enough to give you some thrills but low enough not to be dangerous... ENJOY THE ROAD

Nov 26, 2008
Offroad Caravans on the Gibb River Road
by: David T

With due care...dedicated offroad caravans should have no problems on the Gibb River Road. However there are many so called offroad vans which will have problems if they encounter the worst conditions (lack of grading) and do not drive acccording to the conditions.

[David, I moved the rest of your comment to its own page here, together with Marianne's comment on it. It's an important issue not only for people towing off-road vans but also for people towing trailers or even just driving slowly. B.]

David T. (Trakmaster Off-Road Caravan owner)

Nov 27, 2008
Sound advice
by: Anonymous

We took our 19” Bushtracker weighing 3t across Gibb River, up to Kalumburu and Mitchell Falls. The only damage was a couple of broken cupboard hinges which was probably my fault for driving too fast.

Your advice is sound, tyre pressure and speed are the two factors that count. The harder the tyres and the faster you go the more damage you do to your car and the road. Simple.

We have now done the Cape and camped within 50 metres of the tip. So don't listen to anyone who says you can't do anything. Trust yourself and your instincts. Oh and we have two kids 2 and 4 who loved every minute of the drive.

Dec 09, 2008
Driver is really the key
by: Stef

We drove in October the Gibb River Road with an offroad van, a Delica L300. We had previously driven the Great Central Rd., then did some offroading in Kakadu NP, and then back home on the Gibb.

Honestly, I was worried, as I drove with my family (4 kids).
Well, I must say this little van has surprised me, it handled perfectly on the corrugation, it took a little while to figure a good speed and the correct tyre pressure.

The Great Central was badly corrugated, the Gibb much better. I did a big checkup upon departure, even changing the clutch a day before leaving.
Not a damper or a leaf spring went bad. It came home the way it left, 10000 km before.

So I would say, as you said, yes offroad vans are ok as long as it is in a good shape (as every vehicle actually). The driver is really the key to a successful trip.

I can add a few other comments, like we almost got stuck out of diesel in the middle of nowhere, because the man at the Emma Gorge Homestead assured me there was some diesel 100 km down the Gibb, but off course there wasn't.

So I learned, never trust anyone, always prepare your trip by knowing those kind of infos by yourself!
Guess who helped me out: Len, a very kind bus driver, carrying tourists.
He cut a garden hose and we took 20 litres out of his tank. Then Len kept an eye on our little van, offering us cookies each time we stumbled on him.

Funnily, none of the "Britz" we waved to on the Gibb, dare to stop or help! They seemed like frightened at the idea of stopping. That amazed us, and also disgusted us.

So thanks again for your excellent guide.
We will be back soon to enjoy the Kimberley, my highlight of the WA!
Best regards Stef

Jan 06, 2009
Most caravans you will see
by: Anonymous

Most caravans seen on the Gibb River Road (including Kalumburu Road) are Bushtrackers, but people do take a number of other makes. I even saw Jaycos and Coromals (I would not take these). Slow down, and keep tyre pressures around 25 psi cold. It is extremely expensive if something goes wrong and you need to have your rig recovered, so make sure your van is hardy.

There is no need to take your van all the way to Mitchell Falls - the last bit of the road is narrow and you will frustrate other people on the road. Leave it at the lovely King Edward River camp site and do a day trip. If you want more time at the falls, take a tent, although we found we saw all we wanted to, and still got back to the King Edward River camp in daylight.

Feb 17, 2009
Coromal off-road 511 17 foot
by: Geoff

In 2002 we travelled the GRR with 4WD and Kimberley Kamper with no problems. Now we are considering returning with our current Coromal off-road pop top van. We have a tent if needed. Any comments please?
We loved the first trip and will return with friends.

Mar 15, 2009
Coromal off-road 511
by: Wes

Hi, we are planning on doing the same with a Coromal 511 around August/September. Oh forgot to mention with a 1 year old so any. Any hints and tips would be great.

Mar 26, 2009
Off-road caravans
by: bob

Hi, I own a Kedron cross country 17ft single axle and am thinking on doing the Gibb River Rd in mid June, towing with a diesel Prado. Would this rig be okay?

Mar 26, 2009
Kedron on the Gibb River Road
by: David T

Hello Bob
Your Kedron should do it with ease.
It is a good off road van, along with Bushtracker, Phoenix and Trakmaster.
Just remember the advise given above and on this website and take your time and you will really enjoy this part of Australia, and you will finish your trip in top condition.
Plan on taking at least an extra week or two so you can see as many of the cattle stations as you can, they all have much to offer. A highlight will be to sit down for dinner at night with the owners if you visit Charnley River Station.
The gorge walks wherever you go are fantastic.

Apr 06, 2009
Travelling with a Jayco
by: Anonymous

We are going - for the first time to the NT/Kimberley region, leaving in May for 6 months. We are travelling with a Jayco off road camper trailer and was wondering if any one can please give us some advice whether we can use the Jayco on the Gibb River Road?

thank you
Rosa

Apr 13, 2009
Jaycos
by: Birgit

Hi Rosa,
This thread is about off-road caravans. There is a Jayco thread here.

See the third comment for feedback from someone who took a Jayco camper trailer to the Mitchell Falls. It doesn't matter what you drive or tow, the advice will never change... slow down and drop your tyres.

May 11, 2009
A little Info please
by: Tim

Hi All

Just a quick question. I want to do the Gibbs River Road. I have a Mitsubishi Delica in real good nick. Do you think it will be ok to do the trip?

Cheers, Tim

Jul 09, 2009
Goldstream Vans on the Gibb
by: Garry Hosie-thread originator

Birgit,
Have just returned from crossing the Tanami and spending a couple of weeks on the Gibb. We ended up having a new Goldstream RV off-road van built for the trip. The van is 19 foot (internal) tandem axle, and we towed it with a diesel Prado. Both car and van performed exceptionally well. As suggested, the key is low tyre pressures and reduced speed. I ran with 25psi in both the van and the Prado and had no issues, no punctures. Thanks to all for the advice & assistance. The Gibb was fantastic and well worth the effort.

Garry

Jul 09, 2009
Thanks, Garry
by: Birgit

Excellent! Glad to hear your trip went well (and I am sure so are all caravan owners who are still looking forward to theirs), and that you enjoyed the Gibb.

Thanks for coming back here and letting us know how you went. And for emphasizing the speed and tyre pressures :-). That can't be said often enough.

Aug 21, 2009
Jayco Dove off roader
by: Bick & Bickess

We took our Jayco Dove off roader along the G.R.R. with no problems. Although we left it by the King river to go into the Mitchell Falls. However, the track conditions can change very quickly. When we do the trip next year we will leave the trailer at Drysdale and camp our way in.

Sep 12, 2009
THE TERM OFFROAD
by: Cam

Be careful selecting a van that uses the word 'OFFROAD' in it's name or advertising. These units 9 times out of 10 are a standard van on chassis rises and big wheels. An offroad van should be a unit that is specially designed for the worst road conditions that this great land has to offer. Just remember you get what you pay for.

Suggestions for large vans would be BUSH TRACKER, PHOENIX and KEDRON. Small vans would be OZZIE OFFROAD GUNYAH and KIMBERLY KARAVAN. As I said, these vans are not massed produced, but are built for offroading. Thanks. I hope this helps.

Oct 23, 2009
Nova caravan on Gibb River Road
by: gavin

Hi there,
We are looking at a Nova17679-5 van with simplicity inderpendent suspension to travel the Gibb, does anyone have any feed back on these vans?

Thanks, Gavin

May 13, 2010
off road jayco flamingo
by: Anonymous

We did the gibb with an outback jayco flamingo towed by a prado gas and petrol and 2 children (10mnths and 4yrs).
No lpg on the Gibb was an issue. Flamingo towed well though. We had a ball.
I recommend a back pack with the frame for anyone with little ones though as you can put it down and have a rest with child still sitting in it, they also come with shade for the child.

Jul 16, 2010
Dirt Roads
by: Peter Hill

Date 18/ 7/2010
Have done the Gibb River a few times driving a Prado and towing a single axle independent suspension off road caravan caravan. We have towed it up to as far as the King Edward River then did a day trip to Mitchells Falls and to Kalumbaru. Never had any problem. The road changes for day to day so you just have to see what the conditions are like at the time and what you are comfortable with.

Jul 27, 2010
Jayco Eagle Outback on Gibb
by: Tim

We did the Gibb, Kalumburu and Mitchell Falls with Jayco Eagle Outback. The only problem was a wheel bearing and this was the only part of the rig which had been third-party modified to match 4WD wheels. Drysdale had spare part. Took it in nearly to Mitchell Falls, to an airstrip before the final descent to the falls. The road was very rough Check this info - it was 10 years ago. MOST enjoyable trip!

Aug 30, 2010
Off road caravans Gibb River Road and more
by: mark and jaana

We have been on a working holiday for 3 years. We have a 23 foot traveller van with control rider suspension towed by the mighty 03 TD Troopie. We have done the GRR, Tanami, all across the Gulf, soon to go to the Cape. This van has never broken one thing bar a shocky. It's a big van but we live in it full time and love it. Rough road? It's as clear as the nose on your face, lift the right foot and enjoy our great outback! Happy travels from Mark, Jaana and Rocket, the dog

Feb 27, 2011
Gibb River Road July 2011
by: Ray Parks

Would like to hook up with any Caravaners traveling Gibb River Road July 2011. We have a Jayco Off-Road Feather specially built for us. Have done Great Central Road; Mereenie Loop Road without mis-happenings[touch wood] but would prefer to travel with others.

Please contact me on rayndia@yahoo.com.au if interested.

Mar 22, 2011
Dexter suspension
by: Gordon

Hi

We are planning to go in a 'Downunder'18ft single axle "off road" van fitted with Dexter IRS. Does anyone have any experience with this van or particularly Dexter IRS suspension?

Comments please.

Thanks
Gordon

Apr 20, 2011
Please advise
by: maria

We will be traveling to Cape Lequeve in August in a Jayco off road van. Will it be okay? We have been told the road isn't suitable for caravans.

Jun 09, 2011
Middle Lagoon
by: The Dirt 4WD

We have a Track Trailer Topaz, the big brother to Tvan, and took it to Middle Lagoon, no problem, just keep you tire pressures down on the dirt and go slow on the bitumen, heaps of room at Middle Lagoon, and I like it better than Cape Leveque (they turn caravans away up there).

We are taking the Topaz along the Gibb River Road next and down the Tanami, and also up to Cape York. Just check with Info and visitor centers on conditions, and call 138138 24hours a day on roads.

Jul 01, 2011
GRR
by: Anonymous

We have taken our Windsor off-road rapid across the GRR. No problems at all. All you need to do is to drive to the conditions. In fact l was told most vans that come unstuck on the Gibb are Bushtrackers / Trackmasters and the such. The reason being that their owners think they are unbreakable and drive way to fast.

Aug 04, 2011
what bto tow
by: Paul

We towed a 1979 Jayco Finch (on road) with 13" wheels right along the Gibb river road. Took a little water at some crossings but we did not tape anything up (vents) No don't try up to Mitchell plateau.

We went half way before pulling out when seeing King of the road campers suspensions destroyed and people stuck waiting for parts for 3-7 days.

Take a tent for last part or definitely go in pairs/group. The corrugations were insane in June. The Gibb river road is easy if early in season. Like a highway bin parts if following the grader.

Take 2 spare tyres if possible as tyres (available at nearly all the station stops are at least double the normal price.

Nov 11, 2011
Gibb River Road trip
by: glenise & George

Hi,

We towed our Coromal Compact off Road Pop Top along the Gibb River Road in 2006, with a Mazda Bravo SDX Dual Cab. Had a great trip, no dramas, didn't race along like some who hit all those Kimberley Diamonds on the road (sharp rocks), the dust wasn't a problem as our van had a special vent that pressurized it.

We wholly recommend the van, the car and the trip.

There were some wonderful places to camp, we continued to Broome and travelled back into Geiki Gorge and then down to the West Coast, across to Kalgoorlie, across Nullabor and back to Victoria.

Suggest that the specific bush camping books are great to find perfect spots to camp.

Enjoy your trip!

Dec 20, 2011
Towing for First Time
by: Chanel

Yes, we are thinking of doing the Gibb road next year in 2012. We are thinking of purchasing a Jayco camper trailer. I have heard horrible stories about the Gibb river road but am not as worried after reading the comments below.

Is there any way of finding out if the road has been upgraded before we leave? We were thinking of leaving in June!

Jan 16, 2012
Crusader Xcountry 16
by: StMick

G'Day, I am thinking of taking my 16' Crusader X Country single axle GRR May 2012. Any advice?

Feb 08, 2012
Gibb
by: Larry

Any off road van & well serviced & maintained vehical will complete the gibb safely if you take your time. All the people we stopped to help were
going to fast, to much tyre pressure or old camper trailers. Puntures,broken u bolts & wheel bearing failing. There are not many places the get spares so take a second spare tyre for each vehical, spare wheel bearings, fan belts & radiator hoses.

You may not use then but it's better than sitting around waiting fot spares for 3-4 day's or more. Recovery trucks are making good money from people who should have slowed down.

Take your time & enjoy, when your in the bush every thing should slow down.

Happy travels.

May 30, 2012
New Age Caravan on Gibb River Road
by: Peter

Heard and read many comments on travelling on the Gibb River Road. Completed 200 k in late May in my New Age Big Red 20 with Simplicity Suspension. Came in from the Kununurra End past the Pentecost and return. According to reports this end is and was worst section at this time.

Corrugations in places were bad, however dropped air pressures to 28/29 in van and similar for landcruiser. Drove sensibly and both the Van and L/C were fine You have to be careful of the unmarked dios in the road and also not increasing your speed on a couple of tarred sections at risk of the tyres heating and coming off the rims.

The Cocburn Range and Pntecost River crossing are a delight. Drive sensibly and not like some of the cowboys. I heard whilst on the Rd of a Kedron cracking boths sides of A frame.

Aug 20, 2012
Gibb River
by: markj

We are heading around Aussie in Sept 2012 and want to do Gibb river etc. We have a 200 Landcruiser and off roar 22ft traveller van with off road suspension. Does any one know if it is possible to cross Pentecost river without any problems?

Feb 23, 2013
Pentecost
by: Peter

Mark,

If you van has off-road suspension it will be fine after May till about September/October and or the wet season.

May 09, 2013
Jayco Work and Play Outback
by: Anonymous

Hi,

We are purchasing a 2013 Jayco work and play out back 17ft caravan. It has the simplicity independent suspension being fitted, has anyone seen or taken a Jayco work n play on the Gibb river road before and if they had any issues. I will drive to conditions and let the tyre pressure down to suit. I have heard expandas doing it without any dramas; total weight 2600kg with bikes in back and water tanks full.

Nov 16, 2013
tuff roader
by: Anonymous

Hi, We travelled the Gibb in May this year with our Royal Flair Tuff Roader. It has 4 coils and shocks and we had no issues. We returned to Queensland via the Tanami road and from Alice across the plenty highway. The Gibb road was by far a smoother ride than the Tamami. I ran 20psi in all the tyres without any problem.

Jan 02, 2014
Gibb River Road
by: Jim

Plan to do Gibb River 2014 in Isuzu D Max towing Ozzie Off road Gunyah. Plan to do road from East to West. Any suggestions on best time. Tried couple of years ago but flooded rivers ended that trip.

Retired and spent nearly all my life in the outback.

Jan 20, 2014
G'day Jim.
by: Tony

we travelled the Gibb in August last year with a Dual Axle Off Road Camper and met other travellers with semi off road vans that were on the road and had no problems at all. The grader had not long been through the rough patches near the Drysdale T/O. Before the grader was there the road was very rough. Tyre pressure and speed are the telling factors.

Jun 07, 2014
thinking of buying a nova off roader
by: Anonymous

Hi all looking for some info on the Nova off roader & how she travels on rough roads ..we are looking at doing a few out back rough roads ...any information would be helpful ...how did your Nova handle... what problems did you encounter on the roads ..we are looking to start our travel in 2015...all info is helpful

Nov 23, 2014
gibb river road NEW
by: t&j

over the years we have travelled the gibb 4 times.The first was in an old diahatsu f50.this was great by the we could not shut the back doors had to tire then shut.one of the side windows fell off and lost both spotties.next was in a 1984 hi-lux than in 1992 hi-lux.Afew things came lose.Next was a 2000 hi-lux with a camper trailer (cheap one)few prombles wheel bearings on trailer tongue on trailer broke off and a pile of dust to full up to trailers.We had a ball so long as you got spare parts good tyresand use what is between your ears no prombles,eevery thing can be fix some way to get you to the next stop.Would we do it again now that i am 60.bloody oath neat with a caravan.THINK.TAKECARE.
may you all travell safe.

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