“Sorry, your trip through the Kimberley is cancelled because there are no vehicles available.” I listen to these words a few days before I was supposed to go on a trip from Broome to Darwin.
I had to be in Darwin in 10 days and now I had to figure out how to get there. I could take an airplane or bus, but both of these options wouldn’t bring me to the beautiful Kimberley region. What do people do when their trips get cancelled? They look for a lift.
So I posted a message on Gumtree that said I was looking for a 4WD lift to Darwin the coming weekend.
The next few days I received five calls from people willing to take me, and one of them was exactly what I was looking for: a 4WD roadtrip via the Gibb River Road. I caught up with the driver Fabien to arrange our plans and to meet the other person joining us. It turned out to work out pretty well and I decided to go with them.
On Saturday Fabien picked myself and Julia up and after organising the groceries and all the camping gear, it was time to hit the road. We drove straight to Derby and then onto the Gibb River Road. We camped at Windjana Gorge and had our first meal together. Everybody got along really well. The next day we wandered around Windjana Gorge where many fresh water crocodiles were present.
Then we drove to Tunnel Creek where we had to walk 700 meters through a completely dark tunnel in the water, where it’s known fact that ‘freshies’ inhabit the area. With just one torch for three people, this was quite the adventure.
When we drove further on the Gibb River Road the car started to make a weird noise. It was already getting dark so we decided to stop at the first camping spot we found at Dog Chain Creek. Fabien checked the car while we set up the tent. It didn’t look good: the belt was loose and the tensioner pulley was broken. There was no way we could drive any further with the car so the next day Fabien hitchhiked to the closest town to call the insurance. It appeared that towing the car out would cost more than $1,000 so Fabien decided to order the part and fix it himself.
We had to wait three days for the pulley and then somebody had to pick it up in Derby. Fortunately there was a woman driving to Derby who brought the part to us. Fabien fixed it in 10 minutes and we continued with our journey. In total we were in Dog Chain Creek for five days, but looking back on it we were pretty lucky the car broke down there, because we could go for a swim in the creek, make campfires at night, relax, fish and hunt for bush turkeys. It was five days of waiting, reading books, having conversations, eating tinned food, watching out for snakes and taking showers in the creek.
When we finally left Dog Chain Creek we only had three days left to see the rest of Kimberley, but I think we were all really happy to be on the road again in the same car and with the same people.
On the way we saw the stunning Manning Gorge and enjoyed the beautiful landscape of the Kimberley. We camped at Halls Creek and finished the Gibb River Road sound and safe.
In Kununurra we checked our phones after six days without reception and in Katherine we got drunk with some Aussies around a campfire. I went swimming with crocodiles in Katherine Gorge (although I didn’t realise this when I was in the water) and on the day I was supposed to be in Darwin, we arrived in Darwin. We had one last meal together and looked back on the awesome time we had in the Kimberley. And although I loved the camping, a real bed and shower never felt so good as it did that night.