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Sarah-Jane Clarke, fashion designer

Gibb River Road, Western Australia

Best known as the co-founder of sass & bide, Sarah-Jane Clarke (AM) is Australian fashion royalty. But today she’s also carving out ground in the wellness and travel space: her eponymous label champions slow and thoughtful fashion capsules, perfect for holiday wardrobes. Here she reflects on an awe-inspiring road trip with her family from Darwin to Broome – comprising the famous Gibb River Road drive – and shares her top tips. It’s a mix of free camping, morning swims and sublime sunsets. And in her words: “a must for every Australian’s bucket list”.

City starter

“We began our trip in Darwin, which is a particularly fascinating place. Retirees, hippies and young tourists congregate in bars along the harbourfront downing pints while watching the spectacular lightning storms during the wet season. Stay at the Adina Apartments on the waterfront for an unbeatable location close to waterside restaurants and the family-friendly Wave Pool, plus it’s walking distance to the CBD.” For more Darwin tips, check out model and activist Mahalia Handley’s guide.

7 Kitchener Dr, Darwin City
 

Sleep safari-style

Photography by Sarah-Jane Clarke. Portrait (above) by Georges Antoni

“Once we were properly on the road we found welcome respite from the dust at the Emma Gorge Resort at El Questro. Hidden within the Cockburn Ranges, this little oasis of tented cabins and shaded pathways will undoubtedly add a little comfort to your adventure. Complete with a pool and a restaurant, it’s the perfect pit-stop along the way. Be sure to take a bath in one of the many thermal springs – go early before the crowds arrive.”

Gibb River Road, via Great Northern Highway, WA 
Re-opens in May 2021.

Camp by the river

Photography by Sarah-Jane Clarke. Portrait (above) by Georges Antoni

“A naturalist’s paradise, Mornington Wilderness Camp is located in the heart of The Kimberley. With so much to do and plenty of incredible nature to see, four nights here goes by in a blink. Stay in the camping ground by the river (spots are limited so book in advance) or in the tented cabins (expensive, but worth it). The restaurant also provides delicious breakfast, picnic lunches and an excellent three-course dinner. The top experience in the area? Pack a picnic and canoe up the gorge for a sandwich and a swim in a tick-off-the-bucket-list location. Finish off with a helicopter ride over the canyon for something unforgettable and mesmerising.” 

Gibb River Road, Derby
 

Tropical haven

Sunset at Cable Beach

“We finished the trip in Broome with a stay at The Billi Resort. Here you’ll relax amongst tropical gardens, tranquil surroundings and raised timber walkways. Also, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa is the perfect place to watch the most stunning sunsets.”

The Billi Resort, 97 Oryx Rd (Lullfitz Dr), Cable Beach, Broome
 

Culture trip

“A trip to Short Street Gallery is mandatory for the best Indigenous art, including bold, pigmented compositions by Mabel Juli, one of Australia’s most revered painters. I also recommend heading down to Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest operating outdoor cinema in a historic building. Pure local authenticity.” 

Short Street Gallery
7 Short St, Broome
Sun Pictures
8 Carnarvon St, Broome

Local flavours

Mud crabs and oysters at Fishing Co-op

Fishing Co-op

“Go for the freshest, mouth-watering lobster and mud crabs, caught right within sight. We also enjoyed The Zookeepers Store, which specialises in local gourmet produce and fresh, house-made delicacies.”

The Zookeepers Store
2 Challenor Dr, Broome

Back to nature

Anywhere and everywhere...

“This trip is all about having a digital detox and getting back to nature. Bathe only when you find a patch of clear crystal water, under the magical swing of the trees. The highlights of the itinerary are the light and the colour, the dramatic landscapes, the swims in the gorges threading through shimmering waters that dance in the baking hot afternoon sun. Spotting freshwater crocs at a distance during the day or, come evening time, watching an endless blanket of stars envelop the vastness of the landscape both feel like memories to treasure forever.

“The very best part, however, is embracing a more straightforward way of life: walking barefoot in the mud, hanging the washing on a line haphazardly tied on a tree, sitting on a rock by a creek and watching the sunset, face caked with dirt, wide eyes, smiles bright and full. It’s a trip that eschews any excesses but celebrates the little luxuries. It’s sleeping in the ‘penthouse suite’ on the car roof or stretching oneself out the open by the fire. It’s surrendering to the dust.”  

 

The fineprint

How to get there
Fly to Kunnura and hire a Land Cruiser, then drive to Broome via Gibb River Road. Alternatively, as per this itinerary, fly to Darwin first then drive to Gibb River Road (allow two-three days to get there).

When to go
You can’t travel here during monsoon season, so wait until the dry season – the best time is in July.

Timeframe
You can drive the entire Gibb River Road in four days, but you may want to linger longer. This itinerary took 14 days.

What to pack
Easy pieces to throw on and go. It gets very cold once the sun sets, so pack a jumper and socks to sleep in.

Playlist 
“Australiana” by Austen Tayshus.

Insider tip
Make sure you know how to change a tyre. 

Read more...

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