Kimberley tracks

Submitted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 23:34
ThreadID: 125716 Views:4871 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
This Thread has been Archived
Hi guys
Our 7 week trip to the Kimberley starts in less than 3 weeks. Brisbane to Boulia via Windorah and Bedourie, to Alice via the Plenty, up the Tanami and then counter-clockwise around the GRR via Bungles, Wyndham, including Kalumburu and Mitchell Falls, then to Geikie via Tunnel Ck, Cape Leveque, Derby, Broome. Down to Marble Bar and back to the Alice via Wapet road and the Gary Junction track. Then to Isa via the Sandover. Then back to Brissie somehow (yet to be finalised; want to avoid as much bitumen as we can!).
Looking forward to it.
Most of the planning is done but a few questions on tracks and helicopters.
It seems the Ivanhoe/Parry road from Kununurra to Wyndham is suitable for our BT? Is this the case?
How about the Wyndham-Karanjie track via Diggers Rest? Is this OK for a BT?
I was reading in Ron Moon's book that you can camp (with landowner's permission) at Calico springs on the access track into the Bungles (but before the park boundary). Has anyone done this or have any comments?
What is the cheapest and best way to book a chopper flight over the Bungles?
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 03:33

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 03:33
Hi Rick and Julie


Questions i can answer:

We did not take the BT across the Ivanhoe crossing. We did not even take the F250 across. Ask NiknOff about taking Effie his across. Eight kms before you reach the crossing from the crossing take the Valentine Springs Road (no sign on it) back to the highway and into Kununurra.

I have not been around the Old Karunjie - but I understand you would not get around it with a BT.

We are getting close to leaving, and will head east from Marble Bar to Gary Junction and on to the NT. I am looking into the permits, and only last night noticed on the DIA ( website that the Gary Junction Road is flagged as needing several weeks to process - not instant on line like the basic permits. Rather hard when we don't know our time frame. The NT side one should be a quicker on line process (

When you are at Marble Bar, drive out to the Old Comet Mine. We found the short tour of the old mine and processing area very interesting.



Red desert dreaming

Follow our travelogues, bush camping and other travel hints at

My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 577916

Follow Up By: The BrakeAways - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 21:01

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 21:01
We noticed the same about Gary Jct road. Have got the on-line permit for NT side and will just plead ignorent on WA side, if challenged. Our glove box seems to be just about stuffed full of meaningless permits to travel on roads maintained through our taxes. Why a "transit only permit" needs to go back for approval to the locals is beyond me.
Re Marble Bar, have you been through the Shay Gap road?
FollowupID: 851317

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 22:02

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 22:02
Hi Rick

We went through the Boreline Road (past old Shay Gap) a few years ago, and it is a lovely drive. Still a good road from recent reports.


Red desert dreaming

Follow our travelogues, bush camping and other travel hints at

My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 851318

Reply By: NIK `N` OFF - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 07:19

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 07:19
"it seems the Ivanhoe/Parry road from Kununurra to Wyndham is suitable for our BT? Is this the case? "

Remembering that conditions can change :-) When we were there the actual road was fine for the rig, we considered camping at Mambi the boat launching site, but we lazed out, the site is suitable but getting a level site could be difficult depending on who else is there.

Crossing Ivanhoe, we encounted a time that water levels had changed in the previous few hours and our return journey was an interesting / bum cheek tightening experience as the Effy with no weight in the ute wanted to go sideways over the spillway due to higher water flow. Look at the concrete pylons. if the water is anywhere near the top 3/4's consider giving it a miss.

Another safer entry to the road can be driven further along the black top after leaving Kun.
AnswerID: 577917

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:53

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:53
Hi Rick,

I've driven accross Ivanhoe crossing but not yet with my BT. I appreciate Ian's comments and in fact have Mambi down as one of my must do destinations so I have been dreaming of doing the same. There is a 40lb barra there that has my hook and I want it back!

The crossing certainly looks spooky but we had no trouble - mind you we did watch a couple of vehicle cross before us.

The alternative route looks like a good option though and I may well have been on this as well (the fishing guide took an alternate route - but no chance of me remembering that).

Have a great trip.

Kind regards

AnswerID: 577918

Follow Up By:- Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:55

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:55
That should read "Mick" - sorry.
FollowupID: 851319

Reply By: Wherrol - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 20:42

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 20:42
Hi Rick and Julie,

We are on a Jump Up near Home Valley Station...only Next G reception we can find on the GRR.

Firstly news to hand. It rained for four hours the day before yesterday. Really came down hard, and apparently some of the creeks are up.

Karanjeni Road we went on the other week. Car only. No way we would take the BT from Diggers Rest to Gibb River Road. There are some rather rough bits in ELQ section and some very narrow bits. Took 1.5 hours in the car to drive from Diggers Rest to GRR.. You are also supposed to have an ELQ pass for that section as you are on their land. The road from Victoria Highway to Diggers rest was like a super highway...well Kimberley style anyway.

Extra tip: El Questro. Excellent camp site in what is termed as "Private" camp sites. Same price as the rest of the camp sites. We were in No. 8 Parrot. Spent 7 days in ELQ fantastic walks and beautiful scenery.

Re Purnululu: There is a freebie at the springs just near the beginning of the road. Apparently caravans are left there for the day and folk go into Purnululu for the day. We think we would prefer to leave the BT at Waraman.

Re: Parrys Creek road if you are not game for the Ivanhoe Crossing there is another road - via the springs. Entrance to this section is via Victoria Highway.

Parrys is wonderful would recommend it to one and all.

Cheers from the GRR

Allan and Sharon
AnswerID: 577919

Follow Up By: The BrakeAways - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 20:53

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 20:53
Thanks Allan and Sharon
A few questions:
When you talk about Diggers rest to GRR, are you talking about the road "west-ish" out to Gemma's waterhole and GRR, or the road "south-ish" more or less along the King River to Matteo rock and GRR? [I'm consulting my Hema map as I ask this; hope it's correct].
Thanks for the tip on the "Private" camps at ELQ.
Re: Purnululu, there's supposed to be a camp site at "Calico springs" which is almost at the park bounday (well, more than 1/2 way to the "3 ways" intersection anyhow). Permission is required from the landower to camp there. Do you know anything about this? We're happy to roll out swag out in the NP, but just trying to explore options.
FollowupID: 851320

Reply By: Wherrol - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 21:20

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 21:20
Hi Rick and Julie,

The road we went on is the one basically opposite Mateo Rock. (By the way go there and Tier Gorge...vanless...wonderful waterhole).

Shall find out about the place you suggested, when we get closer to Purnululu..

Leaving the jump up now so no more 'civilistion' for a bit.


Allan and Sharon
AnswerID: 577920

Reply By: Rockgoc - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 21:58

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 21:58
Rick, don't try and take the BT via the Gemmas Waterhole road to GRR. This road is badly chopped up from the wet and we had our F Truck out there about a month ago and it was an "interesting" journey with both side mirrors folded in flat to avoid them being ripped off from the close trees etc. The track is very narrow and sandy with huge rocks dispersed all through it. GRR is also badly corrugated now up at the Kununurra end after the 10 mls of rain the other Saturday night. It's amazing how fast this road deteriorates, but that is expected as the traffic is now fairly heavy on it.
Cheers, Jan O
AnswerID: 577921

Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 06:04

Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 06:04
G'day again Rick & Julie,

Sounds as if your trip is reverse to ours last year. (see trip notes in File Swap).
If you read ours in reverse you'll find some great free camp sites, even on the Diamantina Development Road. Unless you are reading week old reports of road conditions, the gravel and dirt roads can be anything from smooth as a baby's bum to washboard corrugations, to the dreaded 6 inch corrugations and bull dust holes!!

Roads deteriorate in proportion to the volume and speed of traffic. The BIG corrugations come with high volume/high speed traffic and this usually comes when there is an influx of Europeans in rented 4WD's, or when the road is between a licquor outlet and a community. ( I hope readers or moderatores don't see this as racist, but it IS a fact).

30 psi Tyre pressure is suggested, make sure your fridge door won't open. put an occy strap over your stove lid, and above all.....take plenty of time.

As far as flights are concerned, the overnight yacht-stay flight to Horizontal Waterfalls was the absolute highlight, followed by the one-way mud crab chopper flight out of Mitchell Falls. No flight over the Bungle Bungles could match our encounter with Lee, the Belgian didgeridoo player in Echidna Chasm.... a most memorable highlight!!

Try to make it out to Currawine Gorge from Marble Bar.... you'll need directions to the best spot....send email for details.

Safe travels....and enjoy...........Rob and Liz
AnswerID: 577922

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 07:41

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 07:41
Rick, i just saw this thread on ExplorOz. Worth enquiring with DEC yourself.
Site Link


Red desert dreaming

Follow our travelogues, bush camping and other travel hints at

My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 577923

Follow Up By: The BrakeAways - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 23:19

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 23:19
I rang CALM today and they will be allowing in SINGLE axle caravans that meet various other criteria.
Basically all BT's will be excluded. No access for them.
The guy I spoke to said he was personally against any caravans or trailers being allowed in but he was over-ruled.
Apparantly CALM engaged "Global Gypsies" to evaluate the situation and it was their recommendation to allow in single-axles but exclude tandems.
He said the main problem on the road was foreign tourists travelling too fast. The 50 kph is just a recommended maximum.
I said why not change the 50 kph to a speed limit and get the police out to book peeople going too fast.
He said they can't book people going on the station track side of the park (private road), and it was against CALM policy to book people for speeding inside the park.
How's that!
FollowupID: 851321

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 23:47

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 23:47
Hi Rick - it does sort of make sense. As i once said, some camper trailers were as big if not bigger than some small caravans. It looks likes they are making a bit of consistency.

Would not be cost effective anyway to have someone trying to enforce the speed limits on all the 'idiots'. We just drove with hearts in mouth and all eyes watching for oncoming traffic, and where to take evasion tactics. Most of it is a station road; access per courtesy of the station. Same idiots are out along the GRR too, but at least it is wider. Recent thread on ExplorOz from Drysdale River Station tells of some of the recent roll overs there.

As said before, the Purnululu access road would be passable for our rig, if no-one else was on it. If someone with a trailer had to back for some distance because they met a big rig - all of us would be hated.

It was the only time we spent away from the caravan last trip, and it was quite enjoyable. We slept on the tray under the canopy, where we had fitted 12 v lights, Engel always in cab, and i pre-cooked the meals to make it really easy.

Enjoy the trip - it is a wonderful part of the world.


Red desert dreaming

Follow our travelogues, bush camping and other travel hints at

My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 851322

Reply By: The BrakeAways - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 03:20

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 03:20
Hi Mh and others:
I'm not at all offended if the authorities ban vehicles (including caravans) from certain roads if there is an over-riding safety issue. I guess I'm annoyed when it is more a convenience issue. We don't ban wide road-trains from roads with narrow strips of bitumen. We don't ban buses from steep descents (but will give an instruction to "use low gear"). We don't ban caravans from good bitumen roads even if it is hilly and they will hold up traffic behind them because they are slow. We don't ban tractors or other slow vehicles from public roads (except motorways, and in this case, there are alternative routes for the slow vehicles). Why? Because they pay their taxes like everyone else. If everyone travels at a safe speed for the road conditions (including bends), all will be well. In the case of Purnululu, tour buses, trucks and motorhomes are allowed in!
I've travelled (with the BT) on roads in Victoria and elsewhere that are narrow and used by logging trucks. There are often posts every km or so and by listening on the UHF, you can follow where the trucks are, and even call through your own position.
Even if the road into the Bungles is narrow and tight in places (and I accept that it is), I think there are simple precautions that the authorities could take to keep everyone safe. Yes, it may cause the tour operators to run late; it may force the kamikazes in hired 4WDs to slow down, it may mean more revenue for WA from speeding tickets, but banning a class of vehicle on a road because it will inconvenience others is not a reason at all.
If we take it to its logical endpoint, we might as well ban caravans from all roads, as they certainly are generally slower, wider, driven by oldies, etc.
I've been in a swag most of my camping/travelling life, so I'm not concerned about that side of it; more that I'm tired of unreasonble discrimination against caravanners.
However, I'm certainly not going to let this minor issue (in life's grand vista...) affect what I have no doubt will be a great trip!
If you want to view my letter to the Senior Ranger that may have (at least in part) prompted this review and relaxation, you can download it from:

Site Link

AnswerID: 577924

Our Sponsors