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Kimberley and NT News: The Gibb River Road is open for 4WD and not much else is. Yet.
May 02, 2021

2 May 2021, Issue #094

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In this issue:
  • Kimberley And Gibb River Road Opening Information
  • El Questro Station Sold
  • Top End Parks Opening Information


it is the news that everyone has been waiting for:
The Gibb River Road is now open all the way!

Rumour had it that it would open early May, that's what the authorities had been aiming for, so when the news came on April 29 it took me by surprise and hence I am a few days late passing it on to you.

Actually, I am not really, the newsletter is going out three days after the fact, but I had told you in the last newsletter that I would keep you updated all the time via my News page. Which I have dutifully done.

If you checked it occasionally as I recommended, then you already now that most of the opening dates for the stations and parks in the Kimberley had to be pushed back, in some cases repeatedly.

So where are we now?

Your guide Destination Kimberley is still the most comprehensive and best advice for independent travellers to the Kimberley and I hope it continues!
We recommend it to everyone … and it is still compulsory reading for our new tour pilots every year.

(Steve Irvine, Managing Director of Shoal Air, on Jan 19, 2019. Read many more testimonials and reviews here.)

Kimberley And Gibb River Road Opening Information

Since I wrote the last newsletter, the Kimberley has not seen any more big rain events. No cyclones, no tropical lows. It looked a bit interesting at some stage when cyclone Seroja off the WA coast was joined by two tropical lows. Having more than one system and having them interfere with each other makes them upredicatable, but everything happened too far south to affect the Kimberley.

So in the end Lake Argyle never overflowed as we'd all been hoping. It stopped rising about two metres below the spillway level and has since started to slowly drop again.

Things have started to dry up everywhere, and as I mentioned in the intro, the Gibb River Road is now open all the way for high clearance 4WD only.
The western half from Derby to Mt Barnett had already opened on April 19, the eastern part from Mt Barnett to the Pentecost followed on April 29.

Please be clear that the road is open to high clearance 4WD vehicles only and for a reason.
Is had not been fixed up yet and is damaged in many parts. Be very cautious when driving it.

The big question now is, can you stay anywhere? Is anything open? When will it open?

Right now precious few places are accessible and open. Not only the Gibb, also the side tracks to the parks and stations have sustained a lot of damage, and it just takes time to fix everything and make those roads passable again.
Hence most places hat to push back their anticipated opening dates, several had to do so repeatedly.

But give it a couple of weeks, and things should look very different!

At the moment, along the Gibb, only El Questro including Emma Gorge is open.

Manning Gorge should follow tomorrow, May 3.

And after that, in order of their opening dates:
  • Ellenbrae Station: May 5.
  • Mt Elizabeth Station: May 5.
  • Imintji Campground: May 8.
  • Mt Hart: campground May 8, accommodation and restaurant May 11.
  • Mornington Wilderness Camp: May 19.
  • Charnley River Station: June 6.
There is no specific date for the national parks yet. The goal is to open them by mid May.

There is still no information whatsoever for Home Valley Station.

Diggers Rest is ready for you and will open once the King River Road opens all the way to their turn off.
(It is only open up to the King River crossing at this point.)

The Kalumburu and Port Warrender Roads are still closed.
Drysdale River Station and the Mitchell Plateau will open as soon as those roads open.

Let's hope the same will be true for Kalumburu, there is no info for them yet.
(Being an Aboriginal community they need an exemption from the State Emergency Laws to open.)

As for other parts of the Kimberley, Geikie Gorge and Purnululu are open.
And both the Tanami and the Duncan Road are open for all vehicles.

El Questro Station Sold

That's right, El Questro Station has changed hands.

This one also came as a complete surprise to me. Thankfully a reader contacted me to let me know, otherwise I may have missed it.
(Thank you, Dave!)

Since 2010 El Questro had been owned by Delaware North, a global hospitality company.
The sale means it is now back in Australian hands.
El Questro was purchased by the G'Day / Discovery Group.
And they bought the Kings Canyon Resort as well!

To quote Dave in his email to me:
"It's interesting that a caravan park company is now learning how to run upmarket lodges. Will be interesting what the outcome will be."

This is exactly how I feel about it.
I can't tell you if anything will change.
The press release stated that G'Day is working closely with Delaware for a "seamless transition", so one would hope nothing much will change for now.

Getting staff is difficult for everyone this season, so if service appears a bit more basic than in previous years, I'd put it down to that and not necessarily to the handover.

Beyond that, G'Day plans to invest $22M into upgrades, but most of that money will go to Kings Canyon Resort.

So I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this one turns out.

Naturally, I'd be very interested to hear about your experiences, should you stay at El Questro this season. Or in the future.

In fact, I am always interested to hear about your experiences!
Not just at El Questro but anywhere in the Kimberley.
The good, the bad and the ugly, let me know about it.

After all, I don't want to present things just from my point of view, coloured by my particular preferences and likes and dislikes.
I want to be able to show you all aspects and to fairly portrait everything, so you can decide for yourself if a place is right for YOU.

"I've read your book back to front and it is a masterpiece!"

(Received February 9, 2021.
Thanks, Cameron!)

Top End Parks Opening Information

The Top End, too, has startet to gradually dry up, but as in the Kimberley, these things take time.
I had an overview of the situation in the last newsletter and not that much has changed since.

Also, the information for these parks is so easy to find, the respective online report pages are so user friendly, I see no point in copying all the information here.
If you want to find out what exactly is open or allowed in any parks, please see the following reports: Naturally, you also find those handy links in the appendix of Destination Top End.

And that's it already today!
Sorry this newsletter is shorter than usual, but with things only just about to open, there simply isn't much to report at the moment.

As before, if anything important comes up in the next days or weeks, I will put it on the News page.
And you'll hear from me again as soon as I have enough material to put together another newsletter.

As always, a big THANK YOU to all the people who made a donation in support of this newsletter.
Your support and encouraging words mean a lot to me. I appreciate you.

Happy travels, stay safe, and talk soon!

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Thank you so much!

Destination Kimberley, Destination Top End and Destination Red Centre have all the information you need to put together your dream trip.

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(c) 2021, Birgit Bradtke. All rights reserved.
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