The Gibb River Road. Part one from El Questro to Manning Gorge.

We left El Q on 7th June and headed off along the Gibb River Road, crossing the Pentecost River was to be our first test of the day. The longest water crossing we had done to date. It was over big, round rocks, bumping the car from side to side but not harshly. Neither of us realised this River was tidal and it was lower than the day earlier when we had come out to test it. Photos don’t really do it justice though, sitting in the car was better.

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Home Valley was our destination for the night. Temperatures were still high thirties and when we arrived there was a period of sitting around waiting for a spot to become vacant. We took a walk around the facilities here, while we waited, which were quite interesting and welcoming but the heat didn’t make it very enjoyable.

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By the time we were allocated our site we were losing our patience in the heat. There was very little shade and it was very dry and dusty. As we set up Murray discovered that our battery charger had died and even though we had paid for power to fully charge our batteries, $20 extra, it was now pointless. He would have to put the solar out to maintain charge to the batteries.  The pressure was taken of though by the fact that the two fridges were able to run on 240 volt power.  The high temperatures day and night were increasing our power usage as the fridges had been cycling more regularly so keeping batteries topped had become harder on just solar. This isn’t a problem when we are on the move as the car charges them at a faster rate.

There was a pool here but when we got in to refresh and cool off the water was like a warm bath. We met up with a couple, Sharon and Dale, around the pool area, who were from Fairy Meadow near Wollongong, and had a great chat with them which helped our spirits at this stage.  After a cool shower we headed to the river camp to watch the sunset and ran into our friends from Lake Argyle, Rhys and Jayne. We had a lovely catch up as the sun set and the salt water crocs basked in the evening warmth on the riverbank of the Pentecost.  This, we discovered, was a much nicer area to camp with more shade, good ablution blocks and plenty of room, would recommend it.

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After dinner we took a further look around Home Valley, in the cool of the evening. We watched Vic with his whipcracking and just took in our surroundings. It is a pretty setting here especially with all the lights at night.

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The next morning, 8th June, we set off for Ellenbrae Station. Not all smooth sailing though. It was 105kms between these two places but it took longer than anticipated.  The boost pipe decided to play up again due to all the corrugations possibly causing extra car movement. We had aired down and were trying to maintain our speed to 70/80 kms to sit on top of the corrugations, because any slower and these are accentuated, yet it was still rattling our teeth. After the third time of the clamp loosening off and Murray thinking of taping it we lost it completely, but we had one spare left so he put it on and taped it just incase. There were regional burn offs happening on the edges of the roads and the heat of the day was intense one again. We pulled up once or twice just checking everything, making sure the repair was holding. Then a stone flew up out of nowhere and hit the windscreen. Odd we both thought as there was no one else around. Murray got out to check things and found that the light bar had let go and was dangling. The bolt had obviously been what had hit the windscreen earlier. Bungy straps came into play to hold it on till we got to  Ellenbrae Station which now couldn’t come quick enough. We were both on tenterhooks all the way and were so happy when we arrived at our destination where we found several fellow travellers had had problems, ours being minor in comparison to most.

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We booked in and having been told that the Devonshire teas here were the best, we ordered two, sat down to relax and thoroughly enjoyed. Logan, the boss had spare parts for Murray to take advantage of and sold us two clamps, for a safety measure but had no bolts to fix the light bar.

This map shows distances between each stop and the length of this road, 680kms.

This map shows distances between each stop and the length of this road, 680kms.

Thank goodness this was a beautiful bush camp. Lots of birdlife and lots of character in the surroundings. Plenty of room to spread out on our site. A fantastic bathroom with a toilet, bath and/or shower which used to have no screens around it and a donkey to heat the water. There was a lovely barbecue area with table and chairs. We set up and Murray worked on the car removing the light bar, as we don’t drive at night, checked all the tyres and everything else to put ease to his mind. Then it was let’s check out the swimming hole and cool off…a bit of a walk later… And, I’m not swimming in there says me.mThis waterhole had a sign that said ‘swim at own risk’. On a tree is a pair of shorts and on the ground are two noodles…who left them here and where are they now?? What happened to the owners of these things on the bank?? No way was I getting in there…Murray, of course got in and cooled off but didn’t swim as even he was unsure of his surroundings and what may be in the water.

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After a wonderful shower it was happy hour which was peaceful and ended up being spent with a couple who had car and caravan problems that day as well, Jen and Eric. We met up again with Gaylene and Kevin, whom we had met at El Q but they were having a major car problem with water in petrol issues. Not sure how they’ve gone since then, will have to ring them and check.

Manning Gorge was our camp for the 9th and I have to admit I wasn’t feeling comfortable with the climb into this gorge. We checked in at the Mount Barnett Roadhouse and crossed the muddiest water crossing we have ever encountered.

Mud everywhere.

Mud everywhere.

When we arrived and set up we went to the waterhole for a refreshing swim and the water here did not disappoint. It was cooler than most and very clear. Talking to lots of people including the caretaker I decided I would not walk this gorge as it was more challenging than most.

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After a swim, shower and a most amazing, colourful sunset we settled in for a quiet and restful night. We ran into some people here that we first met at El Q, Gaye and Richard, they are from Albion Park, it really is a small world. Heading to Bell Gorge tomorrow, staying at Silent Grove. This is truly a fantastic part of the country we are passing through.

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Cheers. Xo

 

About Leanne and Murray

Traveller, Cook, Blogger, Teacher's Aide, Swimmer, Mother, Wife and yoga lover.
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