The Gibb River Ride 2016
Written by C. Knight
Running on zero caffeine, our trip started with a 5.45AM flight to Broome to meet our crew and pick up our trusty Honda 110CC ‘motorbikes’.
After no time at all we arrived in warm, sunny Broome to choose our ride, my ride was later named Myrtle – Moaning Myrtle. We set out from the Broome Police Station and minutes later, we reached the Broome Post Office for our last bite to eat before hitting the road. After packing left over food, we hit the open road.
Day one was the longest, seeing us ride from Broome to Windjana Gorge and arriving after dark. There were some hiccups along the way including our fearless leader losing his spare fuel container and our resident Kiwi losing his camera. Lucky for all, there was a police officer following in their dust collecting lost goods (me). The corrugated road in to Windjana Gorge proved a challenge for all involved, but we banded together and we all made it to our camp and the wonderful smells of dinner on the BBQ.
We woke up on day 2 full of enthusiasm knowing that we didn’t have to ride another 350km. In small groups of newly made friends, we headed in to Windjana gorge to see if we could meet the wildlife. Moments later we found a couple of fresh water crocodiles sunning themselves meters from the track. After accidentally scaring a croc, being head-butted by a small child and getting a little lost, we headed back to camp for lunch before heading for Tunnel Creek. Getting to Tunnel Creek included a short, rough ride on our trusty Postie Bikes and again we all made it through. We raced in to the pitch-black cave but not before encountering a Ringed Brown Snake waiting in the entrance. After a short wander, we made it to a great little swimming area where I could finally clean my face! Our ride home from Tunnel Creek was far more eventful than any would have liked when our new mate Laurie hit some soft sand with bike and body. The team worked swiftly to secure the scene and to everyone’s amazement, a doctor who was passing stopped and gave his time to help Laurie to Derby hospital.
Day 3. We set out for Silent Grove and Bells Gorge with one less rider. The ride was much shorter and considerably nicer, once we got past the road out of Windjana Gorge. We arrived at Silent Grove and set up camp swiftly, knowing that Bell Gorge was a short 10km away. We decided to give the bikes… and ourselves a rest and took the 4WDs. Bells Gorge was truly breath taking, walking out on top of a waterfall and looking across all the colours of our magnificent north. We climbed down to the bottom of the waterfall and laughed as we all slid into the water. It didn’t take long to spy some kids jumping into the water from a ledge and we all accepted the challenge, I mean if they can do it, we can too, right?
Day 4. We set out early for Mt Barnett, mostly on the promise of ice cream at the roadhouse. Full of ice cream, we arrived at Galvans Gorge ready for another swim and to check out the Aboriginal paintings. This was also another chance for the mothers in the group to remind me to wash my face… After a swim and of course finding another ledge to jump off, we headed for Mt Barnett. There was one slight catch, the road to our camp site had a massive mud pit in the middle of it and to the delight of the on lookers (and to be honest, anyone who didn’t fall in the mud), we had some spills. But it was worth it. I walked 50 meters from my tent to the river and had my mind blown by just how perfect the river was, but I won’t ruin it with words. (Photo below)
Day 5. From Mt Barnett we made tracks towards Ellenbrae Homestead. The road was rough and spills kept coming! Luckily nobody was hurt much more than a few bruises and scratches. Ellenbrae was a lovely little homestead and the hosts made it a magical night. My personal highlight was seeing the drone carry a message written on a bottle flown from the swimming hole back to camp, but I hear the scones were amazing too.
Day 6 was another early day for all of us. We had a great breakfast at Ellenbrae before riding for Home Valley. There is a look out just before Home Valley, which is the first place since leaving Broome that we had reception and we all saw the view through the screen on our phones for 5 short minutes. In a gallant (but failed) effort to upload our first video of the ride to Facebook, 2 of us trekked (in a ute) up the hill. It turns out we caused a bit of a panic when we were gone for the better part of 2 hours… The crew at Home Valley treated us kindly with an amazing buffet, a whip cracking show and a fire twirling display.
Day 7. After being spoilt at Home Valley we moved on out to El Questro. We had a few adventures along the way, starting with the Pentecost River crossing, followed by a soak in the hot water at Zebedee Springs. El Questro Station was a luxury stay! Our fearless leader set us up in safari tents, with a bed! A bed! It was amazing. I had a great time here, I spent some time teaching one of our support crew how to ride a Postie Bike, riding horses and enjoying the atmosphere of live music. Our night at El Questro topped a good night out in any city.
Unfortunately this was the last leg of the ride. We rode in to Kununurra in the only way we knew how, hard. My poor old Myrtle peaked at about 92km per hour, luckily so did everyone else’s and the race was even. We arrived at Linfox in Kununurra and loaded our bikes up to head home. It was a bittersweet moment, knowing that we didn’t have to brave the corrugated Gibb River Road the next day, but also knowing that our great adventure was over.
- June 3 • Broome to Derby
- June 4 • Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek
- June 5 • Windjana Gorge to Silent Grove – visit to Bells Gorge in afternoon
- June 6 • Silent Grove to Mt Barnett
- June 7 • Mt Barnett to Ellenbrae
- June 8 • Ellenbrae to HVS
- June 9 • HVS to El Q
- June 10 • El Q to Kununurra – cruise on Pentecost in morning