Towing a Caravan in the Kimberley and Gibb River Road

Towing a caravan on the Gibb River Road
Towing a caravan on the Gibb River Road

One of the most frequently asked reader questions is – can we take our caravan on the Gibb River Road?

There is no simple answer to this as there are many issues to consider:

  • do you have a dedicated off-road caravan?
  • how good is the caravan suspension?
  • what the state of the Gibb River Road will be?
  • how fast you drive?

It is possible to travel the Gibb River Road with an off-road caravan, but you should definitely not tow a standard road caravan. The only exception to this is if you would like to visit El Questro from Kununurra (see below).

 

Things to Consider

  • A Gibb River Road trip also involves countless side tracks and private roads, all of which add several hundred kilometres to the journey.
  • Road conditions change in the Kimberley and especially on the Gibb River Road. Rains can wash it out, the river crossings can be deep, the road may have just been graded or it could be full of corrugations.
  • Drop your tyre pressure and reduce your speed to suit the road conditions. This may involve driving at 60-70kmh and even down to 20kmh at times. The corrugations can be bone-jarring and will shake, rattle and rolls your van to bits if you drive too fast.
  • If you have a serious problem, it is extremely expensive for repairs or for a recovery vehicle to rescue you.

 

Caravan Storage in the Kimberley

It is possible to store your caravan at the following locations. Fees start from about $5 a day, but your best bet is to contact each business for a more accurate quote.

Broome Caravan Storage

  • Keshi Storage and Containers. Prices start at $55 a week (Ph: 08 9193 5343)
  • There have been some reports that Allied Pickfords offer caravan storage (Ph: 08 9192 3108)
  • Some Broome caravan parks also offer storage rates

Derby Caravan Storage

  • Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park. Prices start at $7 a night/$35 a week (Ph: 08 9193 1055)
  • Hamlet Grove Caravan Storage. 5km from Derby at the start of the Gobb River Road. Prices start at $5 a night with long term rates available (Ph: 0408911460)

Kununurra Caravan Storage

  • Zebra Rock Gallery. Prices start from $7 a night (Ph: 08 9168 1114)
  • Hidden Valley Tourist Park offers caravan storage (Ph: 08 9168 1790)

 

Off-Road Caravans Only

You should not even consider taking a standard caravan on the Gibb River Road. The suspension, axles and overall workmanship of normal caravans will not be able to survive a trip on the Gibb River Road.

All of the caravans you see on the Gibb River Road are off-road caravans.

Yes, your van may make it. Anything is possible. But your caravan won’t be the same. Things will have broken. Rivets will have been sheared off. If you like your caravan, do not risk taking it on the Gibb River Road.

If you are travelling through the Kimberley with a caravan and want to explore the Gibb River Road’s many attractions, you should store your caravan and consider camping in a tent for a couple of weeks.

 

El Questro

The road from Kununurra to El Questro is now sealed the entire way. So you can easily take a standard caravan for this small stretch of road and visit El Questro.

Note: Once off the Gibb River Road, the El Questro station road to the campsite township is gravel, and there are several shallow water crossings.

For any other sections of the Gibb River Road you should only tow a dedicated off-road caravan.

 

Mitchell Falls

If you are planning to travel to Michell Falls, it is not recommended that you tow your caravan the whole way.

The final sections of the track are steep and narrow, making for tricky driving. Plus it will be difficult for other drivers to overtake you.

You can store your caravan at the Drysdale River Station (Ph: 08 9161 4326) or at the King Edward River crossing campsite and do a day trip to Mitchell Falls.

 

The Bungle Bungles

Caravans are not allowed in Purnululu National Park.

However, you can store your caravan at the Bungle Bungles Caravan Park, or at the nearby highway rest-stop (this is obviously the less secure option)

5 Comments

  • People do the Gibb river road in 2WD vehicles, but as you say, it depends on the speed and condition. I’m a firm believer of taking your time and travelling slower – you reduce the chance of damaging what ever you are driving or towing.

  • The road to El Questro is definitely NOT sealed all the way.
    There is approx. 30km of dirt road from the Gibb River Road turn-off to El Questro that carries so much traffic it is deemed one of the worst stretches of road in Australia and is easily 10 times worse than the Gibb River Road and will definitely break something.
    EQ is essentially a tourist trap with virtually zero stock or station activities. How they manage to maintain their pastoral lease is a mystery. EQ is now run by Delaware North, a North American contract tourist operations company who take over running of tourist destinations. Some 500+ vehicles (300-400 caravans) per day visit EQ and pay $50+ per night for the privilege of a bit of unpowered sand that you can cram your sardines (oops I mean van) into.
    Zebedee Springs and Emma Gorge are all that EQ has going for it and they are but a short drive from Kununurra and don’t require you to pay to stay or to wreck your vehicle/van.
    Better alternatives for staying, is travelling 30km further on the Gibb to Home Valley Station where you have decent facilities and the Pentecost River to fish in. (PS. The Pentecost River is only 4-6 inches deep in the dry and easily crossed by ordinary 2wd cars).
    Drop your tyre pressures to 20-25psi (4×4 and caravan) 18-20psi (2wd) and let your tyres soak up the corrugations instead of your suspension and keep your speed down to 50-60kph and ANY caravan can do the Gibb.
    Once past Home Valley (HV8) the quality of the Gibb improves dramatically with much less traffic.
    The Gibb is now graded on average every 2-4 weeks and by two teams that start from each end. There will always be small sections (1-2 km) that are comprised of different materials and these are quite noticeable as a dark mission brown sand colour. Slow right down to 10kph on these.

  • Regardless of the type of caravan you have, the cabinetry is all the same.
    In fact, many more off-road vans have internal disasters than standard vans due to their excessive weights. With everything built heavy duty off-road vans are just too heavy, period, and their supposed heavy duty suspension heritage and massive chassis rails will still be unable to negate the GRR corrugations. It seems that lightweight vans with simple leaf sprung suspension can tip-toe across the tops of the bumps rather than hammering up and down the waves.
    Horror stories of fridges falling out, cupboards and sinks and storage areas detaching from the walls and floors are common place for those that either go too fast or fail to reduce their tyre pressures.
    The only real curse of the GRR is dust and there is not a van built that can keep it out.

  • Regardless of the type of caravan you have, the cabinetry is all the same.
    In fact, many more off-road vans have internal disasters than standard vans due to their excessive weights. With everything built heavy duty off-road vans are just too heavy, period, and their supposed heavy duty suspension heritage and massive chassis rails will still be unable to negate the GRR corrugations. It seems that lightweight vans with simple leaf sprung suspension can tip-toe across the tops of the bumps rather than hammering up and down the waves.
    Horror stories of fridges falling out, cupboards and sinks and storage areas detaching from the walls and floors are common place for those that either go too fast or fail to reduce their tyre pressures.
    The only real curse of the GRR is dust and there is not a van built that can keep it out.

  • Regardless of the type of caravan you have, the cabinetry is all the same.
    In fact, many more off-road vans have internal disasters than standard vans due to their excessive weights. With everything built heavy duty, off-road vans are just too heavy, period, and their supposed heavy duty suspension heritage and massive chassis rails will still be unable to negate the GRR corrugations. It seems that lightweight vans with simple leaf sprung suspension can tip-toe across the tops of the bumps rather than hammering up and down the waves.
    Horror stories of fridges falling out, cupboards and sinks and storage areas detaching from the walls and floors are common place for those that either go too fast or fail to reduce their tyre pressures.
    The only real curse of the GRR is dust and there is not a van built that can keep it out.

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