Overloaded caravans on the Gibb River Road causing problems

Gibb River Road Sealed

The Gibb River Road is popular with four-wheel drivers and caravanners but local businesses are reporting issues with the size of rigs and road condition.

The Gibb River Road is a proper bucket-list drive but according to local mechanics there has been an increase in the number of overloaded 4x4s and caravans breaking down. In an article published in the Kimberley Echo, there are claims overloaded caravans are causing problems for local mechanics and towing businesses.

The Gibb River Road was graded at the end of August, but Over the Range Tyre and Mechanical owner Neville Hernon said, “Over the past couple of years I have definitely seen a big influx of caravans and campers that have been overloaded, hurtling along the Gibb, hitting creek crossings at 80km/h and bending chassis or snapping suspension arms off”.

Similarly, Kununurra’s Auto Tow and Repair owner Brendon Proudman told the Kimberley Echo, “The size of the vans and amount of gear they have in them, it is just crazy some of them even trying to attempt the road, but they do,” he said.

“Trying to get them on a tilt tray truck when they break … is very difficult.

“We are just getting to the stage where we won’t do them, or we will be charging a lot more to try and do them, because really they are big enough to be going on a semitrailer.

“No one is going to take a semitrailer up there for recovering a caravan because no one will be able to afford it.”

If you are planning a trip along the Gibb River Road then #GibbDate via the Kununurra Visitor Centre Facebook page is a must-visit. Each week the visitor centre releases information from Stations along the Gibb River Road about the condition of the track. See picture below.


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  • I travelled the Gibb in 2014 in my trusty 100series and a 18ft Trackmaster van. With my wife and special needs daughter we lived the comforts), and yes I expect we we’re over weight to some degree. But I certainly paced myself and did not hit the creek crossings at 80kph (I don’t think I every went over 60 even in the good sections). Had no major issues other than the occasional loose screw inside and no flat/scredded tires. However I did see plenty of other travellers with issues in all sorts of rig combinations. I would do the same tomorrow but take more time as I’m now retired.

  • Having done Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks and just completed the tip of cape York , without a single incident, no flat tyres , no bearing failures , no breaks of any kind , oh and towing one of those cheap Chinese forward fold campers .
    My two bobs worth is
    1) idiot drivers
    2) driving too fast ( trying to do a 4 week trip in 2 weeks )
    3) over loading , and not just by a we bit either .
    4) under engineered trailers, well , for the idiots driving , the speed they do , and the weight they carry.

  • The crew at Hellsgate Roadhouse on the Savannah Way are having the same problem overweight campers, bad engineering on campers and caravans even had one where the joints on the swing arms had not been welded properly with no penetration (Chinese manufactured swing arms). This unit had only travelled from Perth via The Gibb to Darwin then across to Hellsgate. I rewelded the swing arms and braced them at least to get them back home where the manufacturer was replacing both with new Aussie made arms at no cost + our cost of repairs.
    In short my reasoning for so much carnage is excessive speed, under engineered trailers etc. over loading, inexperienced drivers, attempting to do too much too quickly.

    • As an intending but nervous buyer of an offroad camper trailer I would love to know the shoddy brands to avoid as they all seem to be made in China now. Going to the outdoor shows to check them out does not put you in a position to tell the weed from the chaff as all the offroad forward fold models I looked at seem to have that desirable swing arm suspension with dual shocks and even if you crawl under to look at the welds (now painted) that is not the unit you will get after a 2 mth. wait on ordering. I wonder if there is a mobile inspection service you could charter to do a pre delivery inspection once yours arrives or is welding quality and penetration too hard to pick without costly X-Ray.

      • Is there a need to buy new? We bought a 2002 rear fold Campomatic off road camper trailer for a specific 2 month trip through the Kimberly ‘tracks’ and we couldn’t have been happier with what we had. Made in Australia. Extremely robust, the best kitchen layout I have seen and also the easiest to set up. Not as bulky or heavy as a forward fold and not a minute of worry. It’s worth thinking outside the square. Just saying.

        • Had a offroad campermatic since 1992. Greag little basic setup. Had no problems. Aďded a few things. Been on lots of trips. Easy and fast to set up. Been to western australia twice, simpson desert, kimberleys and just got back from Cape York. Built to last. Very happy owner.

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