Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 38/52 - washing off "The Gibb's" dust at Emma Gorge

Hi everyone and welcome to week 38 of my Tour Downunder Western Australia where I take you around my amazingly beautiful state of Western Australia.

We now leave Kununurra and head onto the Gibb River Road - one of the last of the great trecks in Western Australia. We will be on "The Gibb" for the next few weeks, visiting all the amazing outback gorge country along the way, so I hope you have your 4WD well stocked for an amazing adventure.

Here we are at the turnoff to The Gibb - it is good to see the road is open. They have this sign because it is 4WD "recommended" road.

From Western Australia

The Gibb River Road is dusty – they call it “bull dust”. It swirls around, seeps into your car, up your nose and into your mouth. You can taste it. Part of the road is grey dust, so fine it has the texture, colour and taste of cement dust. When a vehicle passes the dust swirls around in a cloud so thick you can’t see one metre in front of you until the dust settles. Further along the road turns to orange red dust and stretches straight ahead into the distance as far as you can see.

Added to this are the corrugations. For those who don’t know what corrugations are – think of corrugated iron but change the substance to gravel and rock as hard as concrete and then imagine driving over it. It is a bone shaking experience that feels like it is trying to shake the car to pieces; everything rattles, including your bones.

There are also gullies and potholes that loom up in front of you, and the possibility of spiking a tyre on the sharp rocks that the grader has turned up. The condition of the road is dependant on when it was last graded so it can vary from very good to very bad. The best time to travel is from April to November, once the creek levels have dropped after the summer “wet” and it is recommended carrying two spare tyres, extra water, food and fuel.

Here you can see the grey dust and the Cockburn Ranges - and that is one of the typical trees up here - the boab.

From Western Australia

Why would anyone want to travel this dusty bone shaking road? Because “The Gibb” catches the imagination of travelers as one of the few remaining 4WD treks and the scenery and gorges are spectacular.

Originally built for large road trains transporting cattle from isolated stations to ports in Derby and Wyndham, the Gibb River Road, which is unsealed for most of its length, stretches 665km from 5km south of Derby in the west to 53km west of Kununurra in the east of Western Australia’s Kimberley.

These are the Cockburn Ranges - a bit of heat haze hanging in this photo. This is country where the movie "Australia" was filled.

From Western Australia

The best way to experience the road is to take your time, travelling from gorge to gorge and camping overnight in bush camps along the way. You can swim at most of the waterfalls and gorges and camp nearby – both a welcome relief from the road conditions and the heat. The waterfalls are at their best early in the season.

Our first stop is Emma Gorge, 76 kilometres from Kununurra. The walk into Emma Gorge is a moderately difficult trail (3.2km return - allow 2-3 hours) along bare creek beds with little shade, through towering cliff faces and over loose, rocky and irregular terrain with some very large boulders to negotiate. The vegetation varies from savanna woodland to Kimberley rainforest. As with most of the gorge walks in the Kimberley you need to be relatively fit and agile, wear a hat, sturdy boots, carry water with you, and be aware of your ability and limitations.

The walk terminates at the beautiful Emma Gorge Falls which plunge over a sheer drop into a crystal clear pool. This is a delightful place to swim so allow time to enjoy the pool, although water temperatures can vary. At one side of the pool thermal spring water seeps through a crevice at the base of the cliff.

From Western Australia

The Gibb River Road puts travellers right in the middle of some of the most magnificent of the Kimberley gorge country. So stay on board for more photos over the coming weeks. Our trip in July09 was the first time we had been there, and it lived up to its reputation of rugged beauty and we are keen to go back again and see what we missed out on. At one time it was strickly 4WD only but now as the gravel road improves it is a bit more easily accessed, but you still have that sense of adventure and remoteness. 

I was amazed by the dust and that you CAN taste it and it does taste like cement dust - even though I have never actually eaten cement dust! LOL

Here is another couple of photos from Emma Gorge. It was a long hot walk in and we certainly enjoyed the "plunge pool" - no crocodiles here! We would walk to the gorge/waterfall - swim in all our clothes. Then get out and walk back out. We were dry by the time we got back and our clothes and ourselves had had a rinse off! Still it was nice to have a shower when we had the opportunity!

These photos bring back wonderful memories of Emma Gorge. There is a Eco Lodge at the commencement of the walk with a huge deck where you sit and eat meals - stunning. I would have liked to have stayed, but we were tenting.

From Western Australia

From Western Australia

Unfortunately we didn't have time on this trip to go to the Mitchell Plateau where the waterfalls fall many hundreds of metres from one ledge to another - truly magnificent after a wet season - and a must see by helicopter. Maybe next time....


  1. Truly spectacular photographs, I love the waterfalls, magnificent, the one here are tiny compared to these.

  2. Nothing like a washboardy dirt road to keep you alert, make you feel connected to land and to welcome the day's end. Every part of what you describe sounds fabulous, especially the way you bring it to life. I can practically taste the dust. I'll just buckle up the seat belt and wait for more photos!
    Lindyanna Jones


Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this tour around Western Australia. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for taking the time to comment.