The Gibb completed - some thoughts
We completed the Gibb today the 17th June 2016 at 11:50 a.m and we took just under two weeks to do it,
having started at 10:57 on the 6th June 2016 - this is the start photograph.
We have met people who have done it in a few days and others in three or more weeks. We are the only English couple we have met doing the Gibb and most Australians who upon discovering that this was a holiday and we had flown here from England to do it, were full of praise (if not thinking that we must be a bit mad).
We certainly found traversing the Gibb a challenge but it was one we are both very glad we did. We are quite sure that it is less of a challenge to Australians for whom the outback and dirt roads are a regular occurrence but for two Seniors from the UK who live with metalled roads and a UK climate, it was a challenge.
Some things which were different to what we had expected are:
- the availability of the Internet, we had been led to believe that there would be no internet access at all but quite a few places have had satellite internet available at a fee. In some places this has been quite useful, in others it has not worked at all after taking our money or it has been very very slow;
- the ability to recharge portables with batteries. I had expected no electricity to be available to travellers but many places we have been to (so far Mount Hart, Charnley River Station, Mount Elizabeth, Imintji Store and more) have a single mains socket into which you can plug something which needs recharging.
- LPG was available at a number of places, so if you refill as soon as you can and have a spare canister and are careful with how much you use, then you need not run out.
- water of some sort was always available but quite often the water where we were camping was not drinkable. Perfectly ok for washing but not for anything else. We are glad we carried water sterilising tablets with us and their use became routine. We also filled up with drinking water whenever it was offered.We also ensured that the water in our Jerry Cans was always pure drinking water. We only refilled them from pure sources.
- very basic food stuffs were available in at least three places, bread was the least available and we only found it once. By design we completed the Gibb with an almost empty larder. Alcohol was rarely available because many of the areas we passed through were prohibited places for alcohol.
- diesel was available at many places at a Gibb price, lead free less so and that could be a problem for cars. We carried 40 litres of spare fuel and did not have to use it. Normally we get around 8 kms per litre when driving on highways, on the Gibb we got over 10 because we were driving at a slower speed, albeit permanently in 4WD.
- the condition of the GIbb was good to poor in the West Kimberley and poor to terrible in the East Kimberley. Most of the side roads were terrible to extremely terrible with corrugations, potholes, sharp stones and bull dust being very common.
- too many cars passed us driving far too fast. We learnt to assess their oncoming speed by the (inaccurate) size of their dust cloud and get out of the way if we felt threatened. Stones being thrown up and cracking your windscreen is the biggest risk, we sustained one small chip.
- there was no mobile phone access anywhere along the Gibb other than at a viewing point overlooking the Cockburn Range a few kms west of Home Valley Station. There was an illusive mobile signal at Windjana but we never could do anything with it. Some stations had a Telstra land line which took cards and two had one which took coins.
- we saw no breakdowns on the side of the road, why we do not know. Perhaps all vehicles were roadworthy. We heard of someone who had two simultaneous punctures which cost him $1000 to repair. We saw plenty of totally abandoned cars.
- there were no river crossings which caused us a problem and because of the dry wet season, all rivers seemed to be low.
- temperatures were usually in the mid to high 30s during the day (although one day it was 40C) and were either warm or cold at night. Using the Duvet (Doona) Index, we used our Duvet about half of the time during the night, other times we were on top of the sheet. Humidity was occasionally very high, more so on the eastern side.
- most people we spoke to had lowered their tyre pressures by around 10 psi and consequently kept their speeds down to not more than 80 kph. We went slower still and had no punctures.
- showers were more available than we had anticipated and we did not have to resort to the tree hanging black plastic sack. We were particularly surprised at the quality showers in the National Park sites, albeit that they ran out of hot water in the evening.
- the long drop toilets were found were generally bearable and the short drops less so.
- the sunsets were superb, the sky changing through every colour imaginable, the landscapes were so large that words are not large enough to match them and the Boab trees were a constant delight.
- we saw less road kill that in previous years but there were still lots of interesting birds, snakes on the road, frogs in the toilet, goannas, brumbys, cattle and more
- the flies and biting insects which plagued us were a tremendous nuisance. There were fewer mosquitoes than we had imagined but many more small flies.
- rubbish disposal was possible every few hundred kilometres and we did not have to carry it with us for too long.
- red dust got everywhere and we just had to accept it as a factor in our daily lives.
- most of the travellers we met along the Gibb accepted that everyone they met belonged to the Gibb Travellers Club and information was exchanged, advice given and if driving, hand waves exchanged.
- having driven the Gibb, we are now adept at recognising the Gibb Experts who have never driven it and are full of b………..
- perhaps the Gibb has become less demanding over the past 10 years but it is still a challenge and as I have said many times, we will never forget the challenge of driving it.
The linear distance of the Gibb is around 700 kms,
we travelled nearly twice that as is evidenced by our dashboard tripmeter which showed 1365.5 kms since we left Derby or 1360 kms since we started the Gibb.
We completed the Gibb at 11:50 on 17th June 2016. We are grubby, bitten, tired and proud of what we have done and this is the end photograph showing we are still rubbish at selfies.
Since we completed it, we have had a number of people come up and comment on the dirty state of our van and say “Have you done the Gibb then?” not expecting a “yes” answer. When we confirm what we have done and where we have been, it is obvious we have now considerably risen in their estimation. As one Australian said to us, “That is is last Outback Challenge, good on you for doing it”.
PS: we passed the end of the Gibb Road again on the 18th of June and so had a go at taking a better selfie to record the fact that we are now at the eastern end of the road.
Perhaps this one is slightly better.