At the time that I did the trip, which was in late May, the Gibb River Road was in pretty good condition as it had been recently graded and the hordes of tourists hadn’t yet reached the area, so it wasn’t getting too much traffic.
One of the chances you take when you visit Bell Gorge so early in the dry season is that it may not be open due to an abundance of water. However, we were fortunate that the Gorge did open the day before we got there.
The Lennard River, which flows through Bell Gorge, is one of the few Kimberley rivers which flows all year round. This area of North West Australia has just two seasons, the wet and the dry. During the wet everything floods and during the heavy rains water which flows through the gorges can rise by tens of metres. In fact, whist you can admire these deep gorges in dry, during the wet the waterfalls can disappear simply because the water completely flood them and they are, themselves, underwater.
Bell Gorge itself forms part of the King Leopold Range, a 560 million-year old line of peaks which extends for about 300 kilometres through the Kimberleys.
There is a camping ground at Silent Grove, which is near the gorge, that is quite good. By that, I mean it is good by Gibb River Road standards. Don’t expect luxury out here, but the campsite has suitable places to erect your tent. Importantly, it also has good toilets and hot showers. Silent Grove also has water that is fit for drinking. Campfires are allowed here, but you may need to cart in your own wood.
There is a walking track to Bell Gorge which is not too strenuous, and not very long. The gorge has a reputation for being one of the best gorges along the Gibb River Road, and it is impressive. The main falls drop in a cascade over five levels, and there are good views of the falls from both above and below the falls.
Most importantly, because you’ve walked here in the heat, there are good swimming holes in the river. The water is cool and refreshing. In fact, the first plunge is quite invigorating as the cold does announce itself quite quickly, but you do get used to it after a short period.
Please not that if you do camp here then it does get surprisingly cold at night. That is because the weather is normally clear with no cloud cover to hold in the heat. The advantage of this clarity is that you will see probably more stars than you will have witnessed before. With no ambient light to fade anything in the sky, it becomes a riot of stars and a truly inspiring and beautiful sight.