All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
23 posts • Page 1 of 1
hi de ho,
just wondering if anyone has some recent experience of the gibb river road up in the kimberly region? i'm heading up that way next dry season and was planning on doing it solo and unassisted. do i have rocks in my head for even contemplating this?
from what i can gather i'll need to be totally self-sufficient for around 2 weeks which will entail the carriage of a large quantities of food and water over some pretty nasty terrain and so was considering an extrawheel trailer to do the dirty work, along with my surly lht. i understand there are camping facilities etc along the way but they seem to be few and far between in the middle bit of the 'road'.
also what about comms. would it prudent to invest in some form of radio or locator beacon to get me out of trouble if there is (more than likely...) no mobile phone coverage if i get in a bind?
of course i don't have to go this way but it would sure make for a few great stories when i got back if i could pull it off.
any information is greatly appreciated.
If you come to grief, and no help chances upon you, it is likely the coroner in time will criticise you for not having an EPIRB. Trouble is not likely to be 'more than likely...' But it might happen.
Nasty terrain? Don't 4WD buses do this route now?
Water? When I did Cape York one dry October, I was compelled to wave down infrequent vehicles on 9 out of 17 days for the need of the stuff.
Live every day as though it is your last - one day you will be right...
People I knew of cycled this road back in the ealy 80s, on road touring bikes so it can't have got much worse today. Yes, you'll need to carry plenty of gear and food. It may be possible to arrange a food package to be dropped at one of the cattle stations along the road.
Back in the 80s the only EPIRB was a strange noise made by some insect! No, mobile phones will definitely not work But do you need a 'liferaft' everywhere you go? On a public road? Having one is handy, but not having one should not be a problem. These friends of mine did a trip right around Australia for their honeymoon (a year), including the Gibb River Road and I don't believe they carried an EPIRB.
I did Cape York solo by MTB without an EPIRB. An EPIRB was broken about 2/3rds of the way when paddling across Bass Strait.
Do have a chat with the police in Halls Creek or Fitzroy Crossing about your intentions, and without doubt, they will ask; do you have an EPIRB. When you say no, they will likely ask what will you do if a snake bites you or you break a leg in camp.
Last edited by Wollemi on Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Live every day as though it is your last - one day you will be right...
Well we all take risks in this life. Last time I checked it was not illegal
... and you answer "It's okay - I'm a member of the BNA forum. I've been taking lessons ....
Alain, Natalie and Steve Law (?) from MBTC did that ride in '96. Could Steve still be able to pass on information from the ride? From memory, they had food drops in place before they rode across. (I can't remember if it was Steve or not - I know Nat and Alain did it, and there was a third rider ....)
Yep, thought of them. Their HTFU was riding the Gunbarrel Hwy (Alice Springs to Wiluna) especially the section through the Gibson Desert.
Alain, Natalie and.... (slapping forhead) maybe Mark Forsyth (?) rode the Gibb River Rd I think to Halls Creek, then across the Tanami. Alain continued to the Simpson Desert, rode the Simpson Desert Race with support, then rode solo down the Birdsville Track to Marree and on to Adelaide along the Mawson Trail. One huge bike tour
I think Steve headed home at Wiluna, after the Gibson's trials. I'll ask him about it.
Yep, I drove up to Wiluna from Kalgoorlie to meet them there. It could well have been Mark I was thinking of.
I drove support for Alain and Natalie on the Simpson Desert Challenge. (Now I'm thinking I want to ride it .... but that's another story! )
On topic: I think their 'Just Deserts Expedition' did carry an EPIRB. One of the first cycling uses I can recall hearing of. In those days I think they were worth over $2000.
They did cycle the Gibson Desert, and had intended to ride the Canning Stock Route (1600km of sandy, very remote desert tracks). This is where an EPIRB is essential. Less so on normal public roads, even if a bit out of the way.
i tried that website you mentioned and for some reason the link to the grr are not working (actually tried it some time ago but had the same problem). any ideas?
as for the mobile and epirb i dont really consider a mobile a necessity, its more a get out of jail card if i was in trouble. truth be known i loathe the things but they do have their uses in an emergency. the epirb is something that would be an investment though i reckon, bit of piece of mind perhaps? i've been in situations before where i was in desperate need of assistance and couldn't make contact with anyone and its not a nice feeling knowing you're a bit stuck.
i hadn't thought of doing the food drop thing, thanks for the tip that will probably alleviate me of a few issues.
A mobile phone out there will be dead weight - I can almost guarantee no reception.
If you desire an emergency communication device, consider hiring a satellite phone (eg an Iridium) because you know it will work when you need it to. Otherwise, you can rely on the kindness of strangers to some extent. It's no longer a "road less travelled", since every outback wannabe in his urban tractor want to drive it now ... At the right time of the year, you're going to have lots of company.
No, for some reason it's not set up. I kept in touch with Randy's travels via his email bulletins. Try emailing Randy direct at [email protected] I'm sure he'll be willing to help out with your questions. Tell him Peter S from MBTC suggested you contact him.
I reckon you'd want to make sure it was a real emergency, not just a bit of help, before you go tripping an EPIRB. They are for serious stuff, set off all Police, SES, search aircraft, armed forces etc You don't want to have to answer embarrassing questions about why you called all these for a broken tent pole
Satellite phone sounds a useful option, but probably horrendously expensive.
yeah i could've done with one on boxing day 2004. i was on a little island in the middle of the bay of bengal, just north of banda aceh. got all shook around and then it got a bit wet hey.
that problem has now been solved for me- my mobile was stolen today!
... and cheers for the book info i'm sure it'll prove invaluable in the planning etc
On the subject of EPIRBs, if you are buying one, make sure you get a 406 mhz model or if you are planning your trip after February 1, 2009. The old 121.5 mhz models are phased out then. Details here.
I've been fortunate over the years to have spent time working and travelling in the Kimberley's.
The GRR is no longer the remote and isolated adventure trip promoted in all of the brochures.
The first 60km of the Derby end has been bitumen sealed to improve the road for the Kimberley Diamond minesite. Many of the 'jump-ups' and floodways along the length of the GRR have been bitumen sealed to improve safety and preserve the road during the wet season.
Food is available along the way from the roadhouses - Imintji (?), Mt Barnett or at the numerous 'station stay' and commercial accomodation areas.
During the dry season there are countless 4wds with and without caravans, some cars, trucks and a regular bus service (3-4 times a week). Most locals travel at 80kmh+, tourists a bit slower, but not always.
An Epirb is unnecessary, a mobile phone useless on the road but handy at either Kununurra or approaching Derby. I'd consider a small hand held UHF radio for communication with passing vehicles.
The unsealed parts of the road are variable - some places are hard packed gravel, other areas corrugated sandclay, and everything in between.
Regular grading is undertaken by Main Roads WA, however the effectiveness of the grading depends on the weather, the traffic and the materials - typically maintenance grading means the whole road has a loose smooth surface, good for cars, not ideal for a bicycle.
The Police Legacy have undertaken supported bike rides across the GRR during the last two years - they cover the GRR from Derby to Kun in 5-6 days. Even they have problems with speeding vehicles despite the presence of 'Police Escorts'. Maybe consider entering their annual challenge - some fund raising/entry fee required.
Spare bike parts would be obtainable from Kun or Broome - via the regular GRR bus service. Limited supplies in Derby.
I would recommend travelling in May (best road conditions, best water sources) on a minmally loaded mountain bike. June and July are the busiest periods. August is ok, September is getting warm and the water sources a bit scungy.
Camping along the GRR is possible, although most of the road is fenced to keep people 'on the road', travelling by bike would enable a discreet camping spot to be easily found off the road (outside the fence).
Water supplies would be easily obtained - if unsure of the source/potability use a puritab or filter. Big flowing creeks and springs are usually ok at their source or upstream of the road.
If you're looking for a real adventure, avoid the GRR, go straight to Mt Barnett and ride to Kalumburu (and back?).
Food for thought.
Great comments from Allwork! I'm also planning a GRR trip next year or the year after so there is more than one crazy person out here. I've wanted to do it for 30 years since riding Darwin to Melbourne (before the road was sealed all the way) with 900km of corrugations and bull dust. After that I have always felt anything is possible.
Actually, my big dilema is what bike to ride. I'm in the market for a new touring bike and am tossing up between the Surly LHT, Cannondale Tourer or custom built steel frame from Cecil Walker. I don't want to buy a mountain bike just for this trip (and can't afford two bikes). Any thoughts? What bike are you riding?
I'll be riding a Surly. I'll be heading off in January and should be up North sometime in June/July. I'll be taking my time and camping along the way. It'll be a slow old journey with a lot of dust, bumps, ruts and corrugations before I'm done and I'm sure the Surly will hold up just fine. I've kept it pretty stock bar flinging the stock tyres and saddle which have been swapped for Marathon XR's and a Brooks Champion Flyer respectively. I also picked up a set of Velocity Cliffhanger rims for good measure just as a back up. The stock set up is more than adequate with XT, Tiagra, Durace, Alex Rims and DT Swiss componentry spread throughout the bike. I kept the drop bars and added a set off aerobars to cope with endless headwinds I expect to cop along the way. I'm pretty happy with this set-up at present and hopefully not a lot will change.
I went for a fully loaded test blast today, alas it was only about 10 or 12 kays but it felt pretty good. Got about 23kg not including food so there's probably another 5 kg or so. I've got the capcity to carry 10 litres (I had 5 on today...) maybe more if I have to but I reckon that would be my limit and I reckon the bike might have a bit to say aswell. I was gonna get a trailer to lug more water but I figure if I get a trailer I'm just gonna carry more crap that I don't need. If 10-12 litres isn't enough to cover me where I wanna go then I'll go elsewhere. I'll be carrying an MSR water filter and some purification tabs and from what I can gather that should suffice on the GRR and the Oodnadatta Track. As for the rest of the interior I'll have to take it as it comes.
The Surly rides really well fully loaded and I have no problems recommending it to you. For the money its got all the goods and whats more its specifically designed for touring, and then some. Go here for the specs: www(dot)surlybikes(dot)com(slash)lht_comp.html and go here for the surly owners group: www(dot)groups(dot)google(dot)com(slash)group(slash)SurlyLHT?lnk=li
Take care mate, maybe see you on the road some time...???!!!
Instead of starting a new thread, thought I would bump this one.
If you are going to do the GGR what are the recommendations? It appears most of the attractions are off the road. So given you have to pick and choose which gorges to check out, what are peoples recommendations for a touring cyclist?
Is it possible to send a package to Imintji roadhouse to yourself from either Derby or Kununarra? Or is Australia Post too slow?
If you get to Kununnara or the turn-off to Derby and have second thoughts, are there consolation attractions on the Halls Creek hwy? Ive read that the GRR will be sealed in the next few years, so may be it's worth waiting.
I would have preferred a new thread so that i don't have to read this whole thing to answer your quesions. I don't like really long threads. They are tiresome and usually descend into lots of pointless comments.
All hte gorges are worth visiting. It depends how much time you've got. Most of them are not far off the main road. The only one that is far off is mitchell falls and perhaps one or two others at the Kununurra end of the route.
I didn't go into el questro and from the great majority of other people i met, it seems you can skip it without feeling you missed much. Its expensive too.
If you've got time for a more enjoyable though difficult ride, check out hte road that goes around the cockburn ranges instead of going past el questro. that stretch of road is awful - busy, dusty and rough. The road seems busier at the eastern side.
HOme valley Station is a nice place and ritzy too. Especially good if you've come from the west.
consider giving some thought to researching where the aboriginal rock art pictures are. I hadn't done it so i didn't get to see much. There is a lot up there and some of it i believe is not too far off the main road.
About the only gorge that's close to a road that i think you can feel ok about missing is windjana gorge. Its mainly because of the paying campsite that i didn't like it. It might not bother you. YOu can see freshwater crocodiles there in the afternoon adn it is a nice place but by that stage, you will have seen a lot of gorges. I liked tunnel creek. and that funny road going along that way is an interesting road with some good spots. make sure you ask people where the quarry campsite is to be foudn as there's no sign and its not on your map.
You can send your parcel to either imantji or mt barnett stores. Imantji people are much nicer though. I camped in the creeks near mt barnett to avoid paying two nights in the not very worth it camping ground at teh falls there but i did stay one night so that i could spend a couple of days there at hte falls which were my favourite.
I also went up to bell gorge but camped at hte yards near hte first creek you come to so as to avoid riding so far with all my gear and that way i avoided paying at the silent grove campsite. Don't try to steal a shower there. It will not be good for cyclists if you flout the rules too obviously.
The bungle bungles were one of the highlights of my trip. If have you time, go there. As a cyclist you are quietly permitted to camp overnight in the park on your way in but don't light a fire. The rangers accept cyclists doing this becuase its a hard ride in. The whole experience of bungle bungles is exhausting but worth it.
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