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Vehicle suitability for Gibb River Road and Kimberley
February 08, 2016

8 February 2016, Issue #043

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In this issue:
  • An Update About The Updates
  • Admin News
  • How Do I Travel Around and What Kind of 4x4 Do I Drive?
  • What Kind of 4x4 Should You Drive?


First of all a big thank you to everyone who wrote to me after the last newsletter. The response was massive and you were full of understanding, compassion and encouragement. Wow.

I also received offers of help, a few hopeful inquiries about job opportunities (sorry, none here) and several good ideas for collaborations and joint ventures (I am very open to those!) Lots of food for thought!

Most of all though you made up my mind for me. How could I even think about shutting things down?!? Fear no more. We are keeping this show on the road. There is lots of good news and many things to look forward to, and this is what today's newsletter is about.

(I also want to apologize to any new or newish subscribers who were confused by my last message. Please know that this newsletter goes out to well over 35,000 people, most of whom have been with me for many years and feel like they know me personally. I wrote to them without thinking about how confusing that would be to you! Sorry about that and please bear with me. From here on it's back to our regular scheduled program.)

An Update About The Updates

My guide books are famous and popular because they are comprehensive, detailed, accurate and up to date. It simply is not possible to deliver that level of service unless you live in the region or at least visit it on a very regular basis and get to know it just as well as any local.

I am happy to let you know that this insider information will keep coming. And it will indeed be coming from the inside. Not from Kununurra any more, which is where I used to live, but right from the Gibb River Road itself.

I have been able to rope in one of my readers who lives on the Gibb River Road to help me with the research and updating of all the information. Of course we don't know yet how things will work out between us but we are both hopeful that this will be a long and very successful collaboration.

We are still working on Destination Kimberley and are over half way through. My deadline for having all updates for both guides completed is currently end of March, well in time for those travelling around Easter.

Please rest assured that the current version of the guides is perfectly fine to do the planning of your trip. Any big changes that might affect your plans appear in the newsletter straight away. The hundred little updates that appear only in the guide itself are helpful when you are on the road but won't make a difference to your plans.

So please don't hold off buying if you are planning a trip this season.
(Get them here: Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End)
The updated version is also included in your purchase!

As soon as we are through with the updates I will let you know and any existing customers will be able to download the updated version. Just keep your download email! (Don't worry if you deleted or lost it. It makes things MUCH easier but it isn't essential.)

Which brings me to the next point...

Admin News

For four and a half years, while I was struggling with severe and mysterious health problems, I had a virtual assistant who took care of most emails and customer service. Most of you will have been in contact with Amit at some stage or other. I will forever be grateful to Amit as without him I would have had to shut the website down years ago!

Amit was ready to move on to bigger and better projects, and luckily I am now well enough to take care of things myself again. Amit and I parted ways very amicably.

If you have used the contact form or responded to a newsletter in the last months you received a prompt response from me personally. And so you will in the foreseeable future!

Please note that Amit's address,, has been retired.
You can always reach me personally at or through the contact page on my website.

How Do I Travel Around and What Kind of 4x4 Do I Drive?

I received a lovely message from Orla (thanks for the kind words about the website, Orla!) which included the following question:

" haven't told your readers how you travel around, with what kind of 4x4 car and did you deck it out etc.? It just is my interest to know how people do get around and why as it is very interesting."

I do mention my car on the page about Destination Kimberley. Here is the passage:

"It's the car that you see in many pictures and the header of my website, the older model Toyota Hilux with the blue canopy.
I still drive it. It's not fancy and it's not particularly powerful. It has cheap tyres, no special equipment, no radio or GPS.
The driver is average at best.
I've never done any extreme 4WDing, yet I've been to all the places that you read about on the website and in the guide.

So there you have it. I don't live in Kununurra any more, but I think the car still does.

The most common cars you'll see in the Kimberley are Hiluxes and Landcruisers.
Orla was interested in the why.

For one, they have always been the most common cars here, so if you buy a car in the region, that is the majority of what's on offer.

It makes sense in a remote area to drive a common make and model, because they will be easiest to fix and get parts for!
With an old Hilux or Landcruiser it doesn't matter where I break down. Any young mechanic, any station hand, any bush mechanic at any Aboriginal community knows this car inside out and can help me.
(I bought the car in 2002. Today this is not as big a concern any more.)

It is of course a diesel because petrol engines don't like deep creek crossings. A diesel engine runs under water, a petrol engine doesn't. In the wet season that makes a difference.

You can get diesel everywhere, even way out bush. Petrol might be harder to get hold of in some places. Again, not as big a concern as in the past.

To me a 4x4 was always just a means to an end. It's a car I hop into to go from A to B. I never pursued 4WDing as a hobby, or challenge, or to prove something or be cool or whatever. I just happened to live in an area where getting from A to B is often easier in a 4WD.

I drove a ute because I also used the car at home around the farm. You wouldn't wanna throw bales of hay on your back seat, right?

Reliability/sturdiness, reasonable clearance, good tyres (alternatively many tyres ;-) ), and at the wetter times of the year a high air intake. That's what matters.
Everything else is personal preference.

What Kind of 4x4 Should You Drive?

You can find more information about the issue of "which 4WD do you need" on my website, especially if you browse through older reader questions...

Can I take a RAV4 on the Gibb River Road and to Cape Leveque?
Nissan Pathfinder for Kimberleys Camping Trip
Ford Territory to Bungle Bungles
Bungle Bungles in a RAV4
Buying a Suzuki for Gibb River Road
Gibb River Road in Subaru Forester
Vehicle Suitability for Gibb River Road
Do I really need a 4WD for the Gibb River Road?

and of course I also dicuss the issue in Destination Kimberley.

As you can see from browsing the above links, there are no hard and fast rules and no simple answers. Also, some of those threads are fairly old, most roads have become a lot better and easier since!

My advice would be, if driving your own vehicle, take the car you have and make the most of it. Read Destination Kimberley and Destination Top End very carefully. You do not have enough time to do everything anyway. There are countless awesome places to go and things to do to keep you occupied, even if you have only a 2WD. Just take the car you have and make the most of it!

The situation is different if you are hiring. If you are hiring the limit is not what the car can do but what the hire company allows you to do with it.

Reader Cuppa said it best: To visit any and everything along the Gibb your choice might be restricted to Landcruiser or Landcruiser.

Now, if for some reason a Landcruiser is out of the question or not within your budget...

Just take what you have and make the most of it!

At the right time of the year you may never even know the difference.

If you are still struggling with car decisions then I hope the above helped some!

And with the next newsletter issue I should be able to start sending you some info about how the wet season in the Kimberley is progressing.

Until then, happy planning and talk again soon!

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