Perth to Kununurra via the Gibb

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chriswyper, Jul 11, 2020.

  1. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Perth
    Cold morning, glad that I had he fly sheet over my tent.
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    Headed out to Imintji camp and roadhouse. This only sells diesel, no unleaded petrol. There is a small shop that sells a cold coke ($3) or a Mars bar ($4) plus frozen bread etc.
    Had a pay phone out the front that gave free calls to anywhere in Australia. A throwback to the time when Telstra existed for the good of country folk and not just shareholders. The owner of the shop sat out with us for a chat - he wasn’t exactly busy. He reckons that in a typical year hey would have 400 cars per day on the Gibb, but this year they were down to 50.
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    He also told us to be careful on the road, a few days earlier a female rider had come off her bike at speed and needed to be nursed back to health at the roadhouse. I gathered that this was Roz with whom I had been in correspondence about the GRR as she had left Perth in mid June.

    We were able to refuel at Mt Barnett. They sell frozen meat and a few basic supplies. Not cheap, and fuel was $2.10 per litre nearly twice the city price. But the choices we had were to pay or push.

    Met the two GS guys from Bunbury - confess I didn’t learn their names. Schalk pushed on to the Manning gorge but I decided to head for Mt Elizabeth as I had heard that the road in was pretty rough.

    The intell was spot on. For the first 9km the road is chopped up, sandy and has a few large rocks. After the Dodnun community the road improves but there are still some sandy bits that can catch you out.

    Just after the creek a large white Unimog was parked by the side of the road. For those unfamiliar them it’s a German 4x4 truck originally designed for military use but popular with recreational campers. It has portal axles for exceptional clearance and a gutsy diesel motor. They aren’t common to see and this looked a lot like the one belonging to the father of a friend. In fact it was Jascha’s mum and dad behind the wheel. I bought my first road bike from Jascha 3 years ago, an aging DR650 that he had ridden around the world.

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    As we were chatting a Honda 250L pulled up with Roz astride it. Amazing to bump into so many acquaintances in the middle of nowhere!

    We all rode on to station and were greeted by Chantal and Patrice in the cool restaurant at reception. The campgrounds are a little dusty but there is ample shade. The showers are exceptional, the best on the road.

    Roz was still suffering a little from her crash, some neck pain and bruising. We urged her to rest and relax for a few days.

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    Both Schalk and I had bought some meat from Barnett, so we had a veritable protein feast for dinner as we made plans for the next day.

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  2. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Perth
    Breakfast was served by Patrice - a decent bacon and egg fry up.
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    We unloaded the bikes and rode from camp to Wunnumurra gorge. We were warned that it was a tough track, and they were right. Andree has done it on the KLX250 but said he would not choose to take a fat bike. Nevertheless Schalk, Mark (Roz’s partner) and I took the sandy and rocky track. Mark has a 13 year old BMW F650, the enduro bike not the tourer.
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    The gorge is a fair walk from the car park. We could have ridden further but I didn’t fancy picking up the bike or the bits of plastic on the rocky climbs. It’s a nice flat walk of around 2km to the swimming spot.

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    There are aboriginal rock art on the walls of the gorge. Not sure how old or how often they are repainted, but it’s a dazzling display.
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  3. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Perth
    Forgot to mention that last night we had 6 beers left on the bikes. An English chap named Paul was hat tin with us and decided we needed the refreshments. He also had a done and took some footage as we left.

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    Schalk went on ahead to stay out of the dust and I pottered along behind. There were two eagles feasting on some roadkill. I always slow right down as they can only take off into the wind and it can be hard to predict where they will go.
    Their lunch was a small Joey, I guess hit by a car. They had eaten one ear, a bit of tail tip and were starting on the belly when I
    arrived. As I rode past I saw it’s chest rise and fall and realised the poor animal was being eaten alive. Had to stop and kill it with a rock rather than let it suffer a slow and terrifying death.


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    Seeing death up close always slows you down and I humbled along at 50km/h for the rest of the morning.

    The road was getting better, less sand and more dirt. One road train passed me which was interesting. I slowed to walking pace but even so was unprepared for the dust storm. It was 10 seconds of being unable to see a thing, lucky my feet were on the ground as I slowed and stalled the bike. Next time I’ll come to a complete stop.

    The Pentecost river is an iconic Kimberley photo, but this time it was not flowing just some small puddles so we didn’t even stop. After this the Gibb is paved all the way. My original plan was to camp at the crossing but I decided to go to Kununurra with Schalk. It was my birthday and I fancied a nice meal and a cold beer.

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    We booked a twin room in the Ibis for $128. Extravagant but worth it for the sleep.
    #23
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  4. James59

    James59 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2017
    Oddometer:
    100
    Location:
    Beijing China
    If you are too old for the hostel then you probably wouldn't want to stay there anyway.
    #24
  5. Traveller13

    Traveller13 Cptn. Fluffy

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Western Straya
    Liking this report. Contemplating the Gibb as part of our lap next year so good to get some idea on the degree of difficulty for a fully loaded bike (1200GS)
    #25
  6. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Perth
    chalk and I parted company in Kununurra. He needed to get back to Perth on 4th August, whereas I ad a lot more flexible timing.
    I needed to stock up on supplies so I filled a pannier with pasta and tortillas. I wanted to get a few beers for the next days but all the bottle shops were closed until 12pm. Rather than wait for a couple of hours I headed to Lake Argyle Caravan Park about 70 km east.
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    The park is in an amazing setting nestled high above the artificial lake argyle, formed by the dam over the order river in 1970. They relied on a lot of tourism from the NT, but with the covid travel restrictions it is only WA locals who stay. To stimulate demand they have dropped the price to $18.50 per night, one of the cheapest and certainly best value.

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    There is an infinity pool fed directly from the lake. The water is super fresh with no chlorine, it also super cold. Feels about 10C!

    I grabbed a couple of VBs from the shop. $14 for two cans is taking the piss.

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    Had to decide whether it was worth a ride back to Kununurra to get a beer. Decided as I was staying two nights it was. It’s about $10 in fuel, so well worth the effort.
    Back in town I was asked for ID at the bottle shop. I can’t pass for 40 let alone 20, so it wasn’t about age. Turns out the East Kimberley has draconian laws meaning you can only buy 3 bottles of wine, or one carton per day. There is a console in every liquor shop that records your name, drivers licence and purchases.

    Superb drive back to the camp without luggage and with a setting sun behind me.

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  7. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks Supporter

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    I sure liked your Mexico trip, and this one is good too. cheers
    #27
  8. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Perth
    Incredibly lazy day today. Cooked breakfast, read my book, made a sandwich, read book, had a swim, finished book, then bed.
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  9. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Perth
    I rode down to the boat ramp at lake Argyle this morning. Memorable for two reasons. It’s the turning point for this trip. Everything else takes me closer to home, family and yes, finding a job.
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    Secondly there was a huge freshwater croc lounging on the launching slipway. Easy 2m long. By the time I got my gloves off and grabbed my camera he had slithered back into the river.
    Onwards down the road to Purnululu. It is a very long and dull road indeed. Stopped for fuel in Warmun. There were a bunch of young kids on dirt bikes without helmets tearing up the dust near the roadhouse. No on seem inclined to discipline them. A new 150 series land cruiser pulled up and a family got out. The front plastic fender was dragging on the ground but they didn’t seem to care. Weird.

    Around 2pm arrived at Bungle Bungle caravan park. Nice check in staff but no fridges or freezers. They have a helipad and sell lights over the Purnululu NP, but the cheapest was $400 so I didn’t bother.

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    I checked the distance and it was 54km from the camp to the park, so left at 230pm down the dirt track.

    First vehicle I saw was a tow truck with a camp trailer on the back resting on one wheel. Ouch - maybe this isn’t a good road. It got worse, with massive corrugated sections, sandy river crossings and rock climbs. I was watching the clock but am too pig headed to turn around so kept ploughing on. Eventually hit Echidna chasm around 415pm and only had time for a short walk.

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    The way back was amazing. At first I was trapped in the dust of a Chinese tourist doing 25km/h. It was a struggle to get close enough to pass him and he showed no intention of pulling in. Finally saw a clear road and locked my visor down, took a deep breath and make it through.
    After that it was easier thank daylight. The LEDs show the surface well, but it was guesswork which Way the track would Turn. Throw in the constant threat of cows and Roos and it kept it fun!
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    Made it back safely and put up the tent, made a prawn curry and cracked a warm beer.

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  10. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Perth
    Very dull day today. Packed up early, on the road by 730am. Stopped in Halls Creek for fuel. Wanted some bolts for my screen as the track yesterday killed it and I lost another 2. Have zip tied it for now but no happy to go off-road. To be fair to tour a tech I’m sure that the manual says to use loctite. But no one does...

    Rode another 2 hours, stopped for a snooze. Then another hour to Fitzroy. More fuel, but no screws. There was a drunk asleep on the servo forecourt so the police dragged him into the paddy wagon to take him to the lockup.

    Thought about staying in Fitzroy crossing but decided to keep going West. Here is a lovely Boab tree, with all the litter man can carry under it.



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    As dark fell I pulled into Willare Roadhouse, $32 for some dust and cow shit.

    As I unloaded the bike a small snake slid under the rear wheel. You can just see it. CA77AD2A-4958-4957-877D-675969EDC474.jpeg

    Very simple dinner of packet pasta and sausage.

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