It’s hard to wave goodbye to your BFF (best furry friend) when you set off on an adventure. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably constantly thinking, ‘Sandy dog would love this spot!’ But then there’s the flipside; no camping in national parks, worrying about crocs/snakes/ticks, etc. Well, if you’d like to take your furball on a trip down the Gibb, this blog will give you a few ideas. If anything’s out of date, please comment below.
I’m Liss Thimios (née Connell) and this is my personal travel blog. The Slow Lane chronicles my Aussie adventures with my furry sidekick Sandy, and now my hubby, Todd, and our daughter Pippi. As the co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, I write articles (and post our books) as we travel. Check the postage stamp on your book order and you’ll see where we are right now!
The low-down on taking your hound down the Gibb
Travelling the Kimberley with your dog is entirely possible, and plenty of folks do. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in any of the national parks, so this can limit camping options. Below are a few spots that are dog-friendly. Please comment below this blog with any updates. Thanks!
Dangers, plus vets and pet boarding options
There are some particular dangers for dogs in the region, including saltwater crocodiles, 1080 baits, brown snakes, ticks and the stifling heat (especially inside the car – always park in the shade and don’t leave them inside the car. If you’re tying them up, allow the lead to run under the car so that they can sit under there).
If your dog does need help, Broome Veterinary Clinic is the best bet in the west (owned by my mate Dave Morrell). It also has a boarding service. Phone 08 9192 1319. In Kununurra, head to Kimberley Vet Centre phone 08 9169 1229.
Pet friendly camping
Travelling from west to east down the Gibb, we’ll begin with one of the best places to take your dog on the Gibb – El Questro. Dogs are allowed at El Questro’s campsites, however they must be on a lead at all times and, in their own words, ‘any signs of antisocial behaviour will result in a move on notice’. Dogs are not permitted on any of El Questro’s tours or in the gorges (sorry Sandy and Fly, you won’t be soaking in Zebedee Springs anytime soon).
At El Questro’s Station Township, there’s a general camping area where you’re packed in like sardines with the other campers, close to the reception area and cafes/restaurants (powered options here, too), or alternatively you can book a private riverside bush campsite further down the road, which may be nicer with your dog. Click here to see the campsite options and click here for the current prices.
One of the best things about camping at El Questro is that you’re right on the river, so you and your pup can cool off anytime.
The Karunjie Track, including Digger’s Rest Station
The Karunjie Track is a fantastic option for dogs, though you need to be a confident 4wd’er and keep a close eye on your dog around the waterways, due to salties.
The 86km adventure starts at the Gibb River Road’s Pentecost River crossing. Once you get to the eastern banks of the Pentecost, turn north and follow the track along the river before it eventually swings east through Balangarra country in the northern half of El Questro. It eventually reaches King River Road near Diggers Rest Station and the Prison Boab Tree. There’s great barra fishing and camping along the King River, but this is salty country so watch your dog (and yourself!) near the water. No swimming!
There’s dog-friendly camping at Diggers Rest Station, a 20,000-acre working cattle station on the Cockburn Range’s northern side, owned by Roderick (a third-generation Kimberley local) and Alida Woodland.
Home Valley Station
Home Valley Station is a working cattle station and an Indigenous hospitality training centre owned by the Balanggarra people. There’s a fantastic bar area, Dusty’s Bar and Grill, plus two dog-friendly campsites. The Homestead Camp offers powered and unpowered sites, hot showers, and close access to Dusty’s Bar and the swimming pool. Otherwise, the bush camp is 4km away (next to the Pentecost River) and has unpowered sites and hot showers. While dogs are welcome in the campgrounds, they must remain supervised and on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted in the pool areas or Dusty’s Bar.
Located 230km from Kununurra, this almost million-acre cattle station has two beaut billabongs for swimming, plus a choice between campsites and rustic cabins. There are also unique, wood-fired (donkey) showers to wash off the dust. While they have previously allowed dogs on leads, it’s best to check with them prior to arrival about dogs – visit www.ellenbraestation.com.au.
Gibb River Station
Named after the small wallabies seen here, the Goondalee Campsite at Gibb River Station advertises itself as the best value in the Kimberley. The campsite has hot showers and a grassy lawn, and it’s conveniently adjacent to the store and homestead, next to a big mango tree. Owned by the Ngallagunda Aboriginal Corporation, the property is a working cattle station with a homestead, community store, fuel, and an Aboriginal Art Centre. It’s also dog friendly!
Mount Elizabeth Station
Mount Elizabeth Station Stay is a half-million-acre, fully-operational cattle station. The homestead is a top spot to base yourself for a night or so, with great camping, accommodation and food. While they have previously allowed dogs on leads, it’s best to check with them prior to arrival about dogs – visit www.mtelizabethstationstay.com.au.
Mount Barnett Station / Manning Gorge
A firm favourite along the Gibb River Road, Manning has it all. Upon arriving at Barnett River Roadhouse, pay the entrance fee and proceed 7km north to the riverside camping area. This camping area is dog friendly, as is the campsite at the roadhouse. You can’t take your dog into Manning Gorge itself, unfortunately, but you can take them for a day walk into Barnett Gorge. Contact them before arrival at www.facebook.com/mtbarnettroadhouse to check the latest on their dog policy.
As the Gibb’s most accessible gorge, Galvans is (not surprisingly) visited by just about everyone driving this old stock route. A cruisey 750m stroll from the carpark on the edge of the Gibb River Road, here you’ll find a beautiful pool for a refreshing swim at the bottom of a waterfall (which slows down to a trickle as the Dry Season progresses). This spot is dog friendly, but unfortunately there’s no camping here.
Despite being close to the Gibb, Adcock is one of the quieter gorges, but it’s no less beautiful than the more popular ones like Bell Gorge. Located on Mount House Station (owned by Australian media mogul Kerry Stokes), this freshwater gorge is 5km off the Gibb via a rocky 4WD track. This gorge is beautiful and it’s also dog friendly. Jump in for a swim – there are no salties here!
Just 8 km east of the turn-off to Dalmanyi (Bell Gorge), the Imintji (Ngarinyin) people provide a shady, grassed central area, hot showers and a camp kitchen. Their store sells diesel, basic groceries, coffee and art. The campground here is dog friendly, too. Visit imintji.com.au. Unfortunately, you can’t take your dog into Bell Gorge, however, you can take your pooch for a swim at Bell Creek rest area.
I hope this blog was helpful. To read more of my blogs, including my dog friendly guide to Uluru, click here. And please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots, leave them in the comments below 🙂