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Gibb River Road. (30 December 2010)
contributed by DerrickJessop
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The Gibb River Road commences 8Kms North of the Great Northern and Victoria Highways. In 1995 the road was notorious for dust and corrugations and we booked in on a Mercedes Benz Unimog with a double sprung chassis as being the most secure way to travel what was then an isolated part of Australia.
The road passed beside the Cockburn Range on the North and forded the Pentecost River before we began to sense the isolation of the journey. Stopping spots for morning and afternoon teas, meals and camping were wherever a shady and level spot could be found off the road.
As the temperature rose a stop at Jack's Waterhole on the Durack River for a cool swim was most welcome, as was the Gibb River Swimming Hole on a tributary of the Hann River. The Gibb River Roadhouse was nearby, a plain barnlike building in those days, with a large gravel open space in front with just two petrol bowsers.
Aboriginal Rock Art abounds in the Kimberley, and some sites are not far from the road along its length.
The road crossed the Manning River, fed from the Barnett Range and a great swimming hole was found at Mt Barnett Gorge, not far off the road. Galvan's Gorge on the Isdell River was also a great place to stop and swim.
The King Leopold Ranges reared up in the distance and the road tranersed this range and led to Windjana Gorge in the Windjana National Park. The gorge is formed where the Lennard River cuts through a narrow 4Km long and 30 metre high fossilised coral reef.
A little further on Tunnel Creek cuts right through the limestone. This 750 metre long tunnel can be walked from one side to the other. There s a rock fall half way that allows some light into the otherwise pitch black tunnel.
Signs of habitation begin to emerge further along the road as it passes through Kimberley Downs Station, a feature of which is a 400 metre long cattle watering trough and a Boab or Bottle tree so large that its hollow trunk used to be used as a lock-up for captives in the very early days of conflict with the local Aboriginal tribes.
The country levels off and termite mounds begin to appear along the roadside as the country gives way to savannah grassland, the gravel gives way to bitumen and the isolation of the Gibb River Road gives way to the populace of Derby on King Sound.
A memorable journey which these days travellers take in their stride.
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Road 'Gibb River Road'.
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