While fuelling up at Adelaide River, I had a gentleman approach me and ask if we’d been on the Savannah way recently. He’d seen our Isuzu Dmax completely covered in dirt and mud, and thought we might have come that way. As it turns out, we did do some of the road a few weeks prior when travelling to Lorella Springs, and he was keen to know about the road condition.
However, I really didn’t know what to say to him; how do you describe the condition of the road? We did the Gibb River road in May of 2015 and it was absolutely amazing (except between Drysdale and the Mitchell Falls). However, we heard of people saying it was the worst road they’d ever driven on. For us, it was probably the best gravel road I’ve ever done at that time.
How can you describe the road condition to someone? I asked if he was towing anything, and said we probably averaged around 70km/h but that there were some big lumps and wash outs, along with the usual floodway’s, but you can’t give any real figures. I also didn’t want to tell them we thought it was fine, and have them do the same road and find out it was absolutely atrocious, so what do you say?
What makes a huge difference is your gravel driving skills, and how you are set up. Let your tyres down, do an appropriate speed and you’ll be laughing.
We did the Gibb River Road at the end of the June school holidays in 2018, and the road was pretty average in sections, but still not diabolical like many people had described it. Pulling into Mount Barnett, I spoke to someone who said it was a highway compared to East Arnhem land. It’s all about perspective!
Road conditions are all relative to what you’ve driven before, what vehicle and trailer you have and tyre pressures, speeds that you drive.
On our last trip, we’d also planned on visiting Ningaloo Station, and booked a few nights in advance. In the weeks leading up though, I jumped on Wikicamps, and read through the reviews. The number of people calling the road in a disgrace, and absolutely terrible, with major failures of trailers and 4WD’s had me a bit worried. There were two comments who said the road was fine with the right pressures, so we pushed on.
As it turns out, the road was perfectly fine. Yep, its got some exposed outcrops and ups and downs, with some sections of average corrugations, but if you let your tyres down and take it easy, its no different to most of the other gravel roads in Australia. I think because its so accessible that people just expect the road to be amazing condition. I can’t say it was any worse than the road into Warroora or Gnaraloo stations.
So, next time someone asks you what the road is like, what are you going to say?!
I get asked this all the time, and rarely know what to say; do you speak conservatively to reduce any financial damage done to a person, or speak as you see it? I’ve seen commodores do the Gibb River Road, and on road caravans taken where I wouldn’t take my 4WD. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, but only you can make your mind up about that!