Day 1

Wednesday 14th July 1999
  • Left Townsville around 1.30pm
  • Charters Towers - Picked up forgotten tools for the trip
  • Hughenden - Made sandwiches and tea beside the road
  • Latitude    2051'33.32"S
  • Longitude 144 8'28.52"E  (Approx)
  • Slept in the vehicle - Mt Isa - for a couple of hours from around 11.30pm
  • Latitude    2042'22.36"S
  • Longitude 13934'14.23"E  (Approx)
Day 2 - 3 - 4

Thursday 15th July 1999
  • Drove through the night to Camooweal
  • Slept in the vehicle - Camooweal - till dawn
  • Latitude    1955'18.22"S
  • Longitude 138 6'58.74"E 
  • Barkly Tableland - Near Avon Downs Police Station - Breakfast and wash
  • Latitude    1942'41.03"S
  • Longitude 13549'39.98"E
  • Barkly Homestead Roadhouse - Fuel way too expensive
  • Latitude    1942'41.03"S
  • Longitude 13549'39.98"E
  • Three Ways - Junction of Barkly and Stuart highways
  • Stuart Highway
  • Elliott - Picked up a drink at a shop
  • Katherine
  • CAMPSITE - The Low Level Caravan Park
  • Latitude    1429'21.87"S
  • Longitude 13214'47.09"E


Friday 16th July 1999
  • Rested at the caravan park and waited for Peter.
  • CAMPSITE - The Low Level Caravan Park
  • Latitude    1429'21.87"S
  • Longitude 13214'47.09"E
Saturday 17th July 1999
  • Katherine Gorge - Nitmiluk  

  •  CAMPSITE - The Low Level Caravan Park
  • Latitude    1418'55.09"S
  • Longitude 13225'14.77"E
  • Latitude    1429'21.87"S
  • Longitude 13214'47.09"E 


The aim of this trip, in July/August 1999, was to travel the Gibb River Road in northern Western Australia.
My partner of the time was Julie.
Her brother Peter contacted us to ask if we wanted to go with him and his partner on the trip.
We wanted to very much, so made the necessary changes in our life to make it possible.

We had to travel from
Townsville to the Northern Territory border, then on to Katherine, and connect up with them.
They were arriving from different directions and by different modes of transport - Peter flying from
Sydney via Darwin and then on a bus to Katherine and Sue from Central Australia in her 4WD towing her caravan.

Katherine we were to drive on together into Western Australia to Kununurra and then out onto the corrugated, dirt road that is/was the
Gibb River Road.


Day 1

We left Townsville around 1.30pm and drove to Charters Towers, picked up some gear - that I had forgotten - from a hardware store and drove on till just after dark.
Just outside Hughenden we stopped and had some sandwiches and a cuppa.

We drove on into the darkness into an area I had never been. I was disappointed that nothing was visible but that was the way it had to be.

We passed through small centres I had heard of, such as Richmond and Julia Creek. Julie was driving and I think I must have been asleep as we passed through Cloncurry as I have no recollection of it.

We arrived just outside of Mt Isa around 11.30pm and pulled off the road.
With the city lights in the distance, we tried to get some sleep - sitting upright in the front of the vehicle!

Day 2

After a restless sleep for an hour or so, we drove into Mt Isa and found an all night Service Station where we fuelled up the vehicle and our bodies.

It was a very warm night for July and I felt a sense of peace and happiness to be walking around in the middle of the night, in an area new to me, with Julie.

As we were to meet her brother Peter and his partner Sue in Katherine at a predetermined time, we had to continue on, changing drivers when necessary.

We decided to stop at Camooweal, which is just before the Northern Territory border, and try to get some more sleep.
Again, sitting upright in the front of the vehicle!

Around 5am we were awoken - stiff, cold and sore - by a rattling road train passing through the town.
Dawn was approaching, so we decided to travel on.

It was my first trip to NT and WA and I was very excited about what lay ahead.

Somewhere on the Barkly Tableland, near Avon Downs from memory, we pulled off the road and set about having breakfast.

The scene that greeted us was beautiful !!

Julie began making breakfast as I took in the 360 degree view. As far as I could see in all directions was flat, and it seemed to go on forever.

The orange rays of the sunrise on the eastern horizon, bathed the massive expanse of dry, white grassland on the Barkly Tableland, which then blended with a front of white Altocumulus cloud on the western horizon.
The effect was spectacular and it was really understandable why the early explorers of the Earth thought that it was flat and if you went far enough, you would fall off the edge.

After breakfast, nature decided to call and being miles from nowhere, I had to find a spot in this vast treeless, openness to do what was necessary without being exposed to the vehicles passing by, not more than 100 metres away.
Luckily I found a small crater in the landscape.

Afterwards, as I like to feel clean, I decided to have a full wash. I gathered Julie wasn't impressed. 
Being July, it was very cold at that time of the morning but I enjoyed the freshness of splashing water over myself, warmed slightly by some water heated on our camp stove.
Vehicles driving by would have had their animals frightened by the sight of me standing in a dish naked, throwing water over myself - but it felt really refreshing.
The dish was necessary to keep my feet from getting muddy, as the ground was already showing the dusty orange I was to become very familiar with, on our trip to Broome.

Our next stop was the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse where we picked up a drink.
We refrained from buying fuel and used our supplies on board, as it was very expensive, as expected.

We joined the Stuart Highway at the Three Ways Roadhouse and headed north.

As the rules in the NT allowed you to go at any safe speed, we stepped on the pedal and made for Katherine without stopping to be tourists.

At Elliott we picked up a drink at the shop, then continued on.

We arrived in Katherine just before dark and found our way to the caravan park - The Low Level Caravan Park - where Sue was to be.

Day 3

Peter arrived and we spent time resting and enjoying the surrounds of the caravan park and Katherine .

When we planned for the trip, part of the plan was to sell my Ford Econovan I had from my business in Hervey Bay and put the funds into a 4WD.
I did that and with the help of a loan, we bought a Mazda Bravo 2600 4WD.

Part of the deal was to have a UHF CB fitted. Because Peter and Sue didn't have a UHF CB, I packed one of my spare sets and an antenna. 

In the time spent at the caravan park, I temporarily fitted the spare set and the antenna.

Day 4

Katherine Gorge or Nitmiluk was obviously on the agenda.

The gorges are well worth seeing, but I could have done without the commercialized "Theme Park" way of showing it.

There were various ways of seeing it, from helicopter joy flights to canoeing up the gorges in hire canoes.

We had to opt for the "sardine" method, squeezing into an aluminium flat bottomed boat, complete with the obligatory khaki clothed ranger, who did the usual "follow me" routine guiding us from highlight to highlight.

 I wish I had taken still shots, but in my wisdom I decided to use my video camera mostly, to capture the trip.  

As we were leaving for WA the next day, we had to stock up on necessary groceries from the supermarket in Katherine and I really enjoyed the air conditioning, as, even though it was July, it was very warm.


These pictures of the gorge were taken by Julie.








Last Updated : 29/01/2012 04:06 PM +1000