Vehicle Suitability for Gibb River Road

by John and Jen

Western end of the Gibb River Road: Inglis Gap

Western end of the Gibb River Road: Inglis Gap

My question relates to the suitability of our vehicle for the Gibb River Road, particularly as you point out the importance of your vehicle's clearance. We've got a ten year old four wheel drive Rodeo which is in good condition, however, it doesn't have the clearance of a Landcruiser.

We'll be up there in August and will only have time to do the western end of the Gthe Gibb River Road (Derby-Bell Gorge-Windjana Gorge-Tunnel Creek).

Do you reckon we'll be right? A couple of other people we know who've done the road in the past state the ute will not be up to it.


John and Jen Robertson

PS.: I have purchased your Kimberley guide and have enjoyed the read.

Related Reader Pages:
Do I really need a 4WD for the Gibb River Road?
Gibb River Road in Subaru Forester
Buying a Suzuki for Gibb River Road
4wd snorkel needed for Gibb River Road?

Vehicle Suitability for Gibb River Road

Hi John and Jen,

Absolutely, I do reckon you'll be right.

The western end of the Gibb River Road is in much better shape than the eastern half. You should have no problems whatsoever.

Also, all these roads improve every year, and if your friends were here a few years ago they would have found a very different track to what you will see.

The road to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek will be fine, the Gibb River Road itself will be fine, the only track that is a bit rougher is the track into Bell Gorge itself. But even that should be easy peasy for a Rodeo.

No, the Rodeo does not have the clearance of a Landcruiser, but it certainly isn't as low, or as vulnerable underneath, as an average city car. Many people around here drive Rodeos and take them places a lot wilder than Bell Gorge!

I would not worry about your clearance or anything. Just take it easy so it doesn't rattle apart :-).

And, of course, drive carefully and keep an eye on the road.

PS.: Glad you enjoyed the guide. Where I mentioned clearance in the driving chapters, it's not because you need a huge amount of it, but because most of the time that is the ONLY aspect of your 4WD vehicle that you need.

Saying a track requires a 4WD vehicle makes people expect the wildest things, when in fact you hardly ever need the 4WD itself.

Comments for Vehicle Suitability for Gibb River Road

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Mar 11, 2008
by: John and Jen

Thanks for your prompt reply and extra information. Cheers

Oct 08, 2008
vehicle type
by: Tara


I'm looking at purchasing a Nissan X-Trail (All wheel drive, ie. pretend 4wd) due to it having pretty good clearance and being far more fuel efficient than full-on 4WDs. I understand that many of the roads/tracks in the Kimberley really just require good clearance more than 4wd, however, I do need to make sure I'll actually be able to get to the places I really want to get to in this sort of vehicle. The other vehicle would be the Pathfinder but obviously a lot less economical on the open road and more expensive?? (I'm a bushwalking guide - don't earn very much!).

Any handy tips much appreciated.

Many thanks, Tara

Oct 09, 2008
Vehicle Suitability
by: John and Jen

Well we did the length of the Gibb River Road a couple of weeks back (end of September) and the above-mentioned Rodeo, got through alright. Couple of the water crossings, well, wouldn't have wanted any more water than was there (around knee height) as we do not have snorkel on the ute. So the electrics crapped out for a couple of seconds when they got a bit wet, but they recovered.... Highest water we came across was actually track to Bell Gorge, they'd had some rain that end of the track and also the track into El Questro gorge when we ran off edge of established crossing and hit a hole (oops) Didn't bother with some of the tracks at El Questro, as genuinely require better clearance than what we had. Noticed a couple of low clearance two wheel drives made it down the length of the road with no dramas. Wouldn't attempt Mitchell Plateu etc in anything less than a 'proper' 4WD going off all the reports we got from those who went up that way.

By the way, following the advice given, putting the tyre pressures nice and low we didn't get one flat, and there are really rocky sections of road you cover. Also had the advantage of having pretty new AT type tyres, so that helped I guess.

Aug 15, 2009
vehicle clearance
by: Anonymous

We had Nissen X Trail and the lack of clearance was the main problem on several outback roads. The low exhaust was a problem on rocky roads, and we got rid of it before attempting the next trip. Despite it being a lovely vehicle to travel in, its really not a genuine 4x4 either.

Nov 17, 2009
Gibb River Road in a 2 wheel drive.
by: Michael

Believe it or not my son drove his ancient Holden Barina along the Eastern end of the Gibb River Road right up to the river crossing! He works in Wyndham and at the time couldn't afford a 4X4. Any visitors he had would enjoy a ride of their lives in his little car!

Jun 28, 2010
by: dave

My son & I drove the length of the Gibb River Road in a 92 Commodore ute. The road smashed the muffler to bits. We negotiated the river crossings fine even Pentecost River crossing. We got a bit of water in the doors but that's it. Also never even got a flat tyre. I can't wait to do it again.

Jan 11, 2011
Like driving a Truck
by: Mike Normington

We drove a Nissan Patrol all over the Gibb and the Cape. Heaps of rough dirt and sand, the hubs were locked twice in about 5,000 kms.
Take your time enjoy the views.

May 19, 2015
Colorado clearance
by: Anonymous

Exploring the eastern end of Gibb River June 8, 2015.

Ie El Questro etc.

We are looking at hiring a Holden Colorado over the Pajero simply because it's half price.

Will this be sufficient clearance in the ute and any river crossings I should be concerned about in this particular vehicle.

Jun 11, 2019
Nissan X trail
by: Beth

Hi, I’m looking to do the Gibb River Road in my Nissan X Trail. I have done research online about the road and it says online that the road isn’t as bad as it used to be and low clearance 4x4 have done it without any problems.
Just looking for some advice before I go a ahead and do it.
Thanks, Beth.

Aug 24, 2020
by: Bill and Sue

My wife and I have a Subaru XV, the ground clearance is about 280 mm.
We want to visit Windjana Gorge from Broome.
Is the road suitable for a AWD?

My biggest concern is will there be any water crossings to do?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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