Gibb River / Cape Leveque / Montebello Islands Trip 2023

 Thought I would do a write up as I havnt seen a story for a while, grab a beer and have a read if your keen!!

 I recently had the priveledge of going up and doing the Gibb River road from Kununurra down towards Broome, Cape Leveque and then going out to the Montebello Islands on the way home. Safe to say it was an Epic trip. Thought I would do a bit of a story for anyone keen for a read.

 

Gibb

I headed up from Perth and drove straight to Kununurra. Took me 2 and a half days to get there, stopped outside of Newman on the first night, near Fitzroy on the second and into Kununurra the 3rd day. We timed the trip perfectly as 2 weeks before there was “un-seasonal” rain which closed the majority of the Gibb and washed away the temporary crossing at Fitzroy. The Fitzroy crossing was opened the day before I arrived so the timing was impeccable. Talked to a few nomads outside of Fitzroy and some of them had been stuck at the crossing for 4 or 5 days. Anyway got into Kununurra and stayed at a good friends house. I flew my partner and 2 year old into Kununurra so that the trip up was a lot easier than having to stop every couple of hours.

This was the first trip in our new caravan and so far it was awesome! Anyone looking for a caravan Everest Caravans are bloody brilliant. We met the other couple we were travelling with the following day and started the journey along the Gibb. First stop Emma Gorge and El Questro, amazing places. Don’t need to say too much about these as they are so commercialised with plenty of detail available. We spent 3 nights at EL Q and then headed south. We were going to stop at a free camp somewhere between El Q and Ellenbrae but we decided just to keep going to Ellenbrae as the camp “Top of the world” was a sandy dust bowl. The road between El Q and Ellenbrae was shocking, worst on the Gibb when we went. Not a grader in site. Sitting on 15km per hour for 2 hours one end. 230kms took us around 7 hours. Ellenbrae was amazing, beautiful camp ground with nice swimming hole, scones were awesome, staff were brilliant. Would highly recommend! Not many people stay here but the camp ground, toilets, showers were the best on the Gibb. Tried catching cherabin in the river as we were told there are heaps in there…. Didn’t even see 1 haha

We drove from Ellenbrae through to Drysdale, really non-eventful. Theres a really nice sandy river, the first one you get to when you get on the Drysdale road. Stopped here for a couple of hours for the kids to swim and a bit of lunch. Perfect little spot for the kids. Headed into Drysdale, great camp spot and the burgers are awesome! Just spent 1 night here and then headed to Munuru which is right near the intersection for Mitchell falls and Kulumburu road. Munuru is a nice camp ground with a good swimming spot, theres cherribin in the river but we only managed to catch small ones. Headed to Mitchell falls the next day leaving the vans at Munuru. Caught a helicopter in and walked out. Beautiful spot… Really long walk haha wouldn’t want to walk both ways that’s for sure.

From Munuru the next day headed up to Kulumburu and McGowen Island camp… The Kulumburu road was washed out in places and we had to stop and fill in wash outs etc to get the vans through. Mine is a 19’7 van but we made it with minimal issues. This is where I was excited to get to… here we get to take the roof topper off and go fishing haha! Unfortunately the wind was howling, the camp host said it is very very unusual.. Just my luck. We stayed for 5 nights and only got to go out in the boat once. But it was worth it. Catching large mouth nannygai in 6m of water was bloody great fun! Got a decent feed which was great. Whole fish on the fire and fish curry a few nights later. Bloody brilliant. McGowens camp is awesome, fresh water, good beach even though you cant swim and the sunsets were amazing…. The rocks around the camp had the biggest oysters I have ever seen. We went walking for about an hour and got 20 no worries. Others were out and got a heap too, there were that many its crazy! Oysters killpatrick almost every night, bloody brilliant. The new roof topper went awesome, stoked with that! The boat loader I made also went well. Real happy with the set up.

 After the 5 nights at Mcgowens headed back down to Drysdale for a night. On the way our friends van broke the main suspension arm bolt and elongated the mount holes. Luckily my shocky bolts on my van were the same size so we were able to steal my bolt and put his broken bolt into my shocky mounts. Driving real slow we basically got 150-200kms out of the bolt before it sheered again… Pull another one out of my van to get him going again. We were able to limp into Gibb River station where we spoke with a few cattle farmers there and borrowed their welder. Welded a few bolts back together to get us through to the “Over the hill mechanical” not far from mount barnett. We stopped at a free camp along the way, forgot the name but beautiful spot and the cherrabin there were huge!! Stoked to get a few that’s for sure! We had to skip a few places that we wanted to go to but got to the mechanic and went through his containers and found a few bolts that got us out of trouble.

 Continued on and did a few gorges along the way, did Bells gorge which was pretty cool, awesome spot to swim! We kind of rushed the last 3 days from Drysdale towards Broome because we didn’t know if the suspension in the mates van was going to hold up. Got to Broome safe after spending close to 2 weeks doing the Gibb. Stayed in Broome 3 nights, re-stocked everything and had a good time at cable beach, crocodile park and doing the usual tourist things.. Broome is a bloody busy joint and it is so hard to get into a caravan park, even the over flow park at the gun club is booked out so if you go there you need to book well in advance.

 

From Broome we went up to Cape Leveque. We stayed at Cygnet bay pearl farm, used it as a base and went and did all the spots up and down the cape, beautiful part of the country but a lot of areas are closed and you need permission from land owners to get in. If you do get permission which we did through a friend there are mud crabs everywhere haha. Literally walked for 50m and got 2 giant crabs, didn’t need anymore so walked back out.. Was there for 20 minutes, saw 5 crabs, kept 2 huge males and left haha really really easy! We were lucky enough to be at Cape Leveque during the “Stairway to the moon” was pretty spectacular!!

 From Cape Leveque we went back to Broome where I dropped the missus and kid at the airport and they flew back to Perth. I continued down to Karratha where I was meeting a mate who lives there but is mobbing back in October. Perfect opportunity to get out on his 8m boat and go to the Monties. Another mate flew into Karratha for the trip

 

Monties

Got to Karratha on a Sunday afternoon and picked my mate up who was flying in. Went to the pub for dinner and checked the wind / weather situation. Was basically going to be rough when we wanted to leave the next morning but then was pretty calm for the next 3 days we were planning on going over. Had dinner and it was bout 8pm and the wind was dead flat, none at all. W looked at the weather and it wasn’t predicted to come up until early morning so we made the call to head to my mates, pack the boat and head out that night. Mate has done the monties a few times so he was pretty confident in leaving at night so we left the Karratha boat ramp around 9:30pm…. So glad we did. It was glass the whole way over. Cruising at 24 knots, auto pilot in his 8m diesel boat was unreal!! 125kms over there we pulled up and anchored inside the islands around 1am. Rolled the swag on the deck and had a good sleep…. Woke up with the sound of a drag screaming!! Mate had gotten up and dropped a line over and hooked onto a massive fish, we were in sand so I was predicting a shark… after a battle one of the biggest chinaman came up!! Awesome way to wake up at the monties…

 Had a bit of breaky and went to a few spots my mate had been to before spearing. Jumped in the pristine clear water. Trout, spangos, crays, tevally, mackies everything was there. Bloody amazing way to spend the morning. We weren’t really there to get a bag full of fish and fillets as this was going to be a quick trip over and we still had a heap of fillets left from an earlier Gnaraloo trip. So we only wanted our trout limit and a few extras so we weren’t spearing too much. Did a bit of trolling and casting for GT’s. Didn’t get any massive GT’s but they were there.. We could see them, big black backs chasing the lures but not taking them, would have been in excess of 20kgs easy but didn’t get any to strike… Stayed in the bay at Alpha island… At night there were squid everywhere! Awesome feed of squid, crays and fish!! Next morning went out for a bottom bounce. Found some decent fish on the sounder and it was the best fishing I have ever experienced. In 17m of water for around an hour every drop we were catching massive trout, reds, blue bone, spanglie after spanglie, mackies, saddle tail, anything you could think of we were catching them every drop. It was insane fishing, then just like that it stopped, either sharks or turn of the tide and that was it they were gone!!

 We went for another dive and got a few more crays and I speared the biggest barramundi cod I have ever seen!! They are amazing eating too!!

One of the highlights of the trip was stopping in the middle of no where, around 6m of water and throwing the vibes that we got from Euge and Mackdog tackle. Massive spangos, mackies even a decent size blue bone in 6m of water on light gear was awesome fishing!!

Back to the island and moored again for the night! The wind was blowing up the next day in the arvo so we decided to have 1 last dive and start heading back towards Karratha, did a bit of sight seeing along the way and checked out a few wrecks. Back to Karratha that night for a clean up and beers.

 

Next morning the mate that flew in from Perth and I headed to the fortescue river to get the roof topper off again and get some muddies! Great little spot. We got 8 muddies and that night it was crabs around the fire. Next morning it was an early start and drive straight back to Perth!! Long trip back but with 2 of us driving was pretty easy!!

 

All in all loved the trip!! The Gibb was awesome, would love to spend a hell of a lot more time up that way! Monties was awesome and so glad that I got to do it in my mates boat. Being the yanmar diesel we only used 250L for the whole trip, in my boat we would have used about 600 I rekon!

 

The main highlight of the whole trip was seeing how much my daughter enjoyed it. Teaching her how to cook bread on the camp fire, catching cherribums and mud crabs, just to see her smile was pricelsee!!

Few pics for attached but yeah hope you enjoy the story, if you have any questions or anything let me know

 

Cheers

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I go boating not fishing

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Alan James's picture

Posts: 2218

Date Joined: 30/06/09

Great write up mate

Wed, 2023-09-27 10:01

Thanks for sharing. 

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tcarroll's picture

Posts: 261

Date Joined: 17/12/13

Epic!

Wed, 2023-09-27 10:22

 Great write up and pictures. Very jealous!

Coastrunner's picture

Posts: 423

Date Joined: 25/10/14

Awesome

Wed, 2023-09-27 10:57

 Cheers for taking the time to write it up 

Spicey's picture

Posts: 218

Date Joined: 17/01/11

Jealous !

Wed, 2023-09-27 11:02

Sounds like an epic trip in God country. 

Rick's picture

Posts: 1111

Date Joined: 22/12/06

Brilliant

Thu, 2023-09-28 21:50

Great read Piggy, thanks for taking the time

One awesome trip ! 

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davewillo's picture

Posts: 2336

Date Joined: 08/09/16

 Great write-up Josh! Sounds

Fri, 2023-09-29 11:28

 Great write-up Josh! Sounds like an awesome trip and some great fishing too. Those trout are huge! Eugene's vibes worked a treat for us when we got a chance to use them.

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 PGFC member and lure tragic

Adam Gallash's picture

Posts: 15632

Date Joined: 29/11/05

Sick

Fri, 2023-09-29 20:06

 Sick indeed, troutz are solid.

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Piggy's picture

Posts: 546

Date Joined: 24/08/12

Cheers!

Sun, 2023-10-01 19:41

 Cheers guys yeah it was an amazing trip!

Have a Coral Bay trip planned in January which will be stinking hot but have aircon in the van so thats ok and then doing South Lefroy in March which im really looking forward to!! Van will be getting a work out which is good!!

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I go boating not fishing

rob90's picture

Posts: 1522

Date Joined: 06/02/13

 Great write up, cheers for

Sun, 2023-10-01 20:40

 Great write up, cheers for taking the time to share. Experiences and memories made for you and the family. That's living!

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 Hi my name is rob............. and I'm a........... fishaholic

sea-kem's picture

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Date Joined: 30/11/09

 Epic report Josh

Sun, 2023-10-01 21:00

 Epic report Josh

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Love the West!

straith's picture

Posts: 419

Date Joined: 25/11/13

Im green!!!

Fri, 2023-10-06 06:35

 what a life hey?? 

jeez we are lucky in this country.

takes a bit of prep and effort but what can beat that??

Yet to do Montys but def on the bucket list b4 its either all gone ir regulated.

thanks for the report mate

NORUN NOFUN's picture

Posts: 1027

Date Joined: 15/08/11

Sounds like an awesome trip,

Fri, 2023-10-06 07:37

Sounds like an awesome trip, have done the Kimberley a few times now and still have not see enough lol

Last time we stopped at McGowans it was run down, buildings termite riden and fallen in on itself, and as you've said the oysters are HUGE and the sunsets are out of this world, luckily for us we had great weather when we were there and hit the Drysdale river with ease to do overnight trips, memories that last a life time.

Great to see the family so happy.

Piggy's picture

Posts: 546

Date Joined: 24/08/12

Cheers

Fri, 2023-10-06 09:38

 Yeah was an awesome trip!

The care takers at Mcgowens have done an awesome job getting it back up and running, great little spot!

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I go boating not fishing

Brock O's picture

Posts: 3188

Date Joined: 11/01/08

Woo what a read, Fk you got

Fri, 2023-10-06 12:49

Woo what a read, Fk you got it sorted...Ripper trip and fish.

Thanks for sharing!