We picked up some supplies, a Western Australia National Parks Pass and a few more mangoes for good measure and headed out to El Questro, a privately owned cattle station situated at the beginning of the Gibb River Road in the Kimberly. The sheer size of the 1 million acre station, about 5 times the size of Tasmania, is mind boggling.
We were a bit nervous about the condition of the road, it being only our second time off-road and hearing hairy stories from fellow campers along the way. The infamous road did not disappoint! At the first river crossing, after a few expletives (this is a G rated blog!), a bit of positive thinking and sheer hope that our high-clearance vehicle was actually high enough, we made it through and then tackled the rest in style (all good practice for a subsequent off-road experience which you will read about in a few blogs time!).
The main attraction at El Questro is the natural wilderness (right up our alley!) and over the next 4 days we hiked almost every trail that was on offer. However, in stark contrast to the government run national parks we have visited there was hardly any mention of the Aboriginal history, connection to this land and the places we visited, which was a bit disappointing.
Here are just a sample of the fabulous places we had the absolute pleasure in visiting…
Emma Gorge – Photos do not do this beautiful place any justice. The 65m high deep-orange cliff walls that surround the gorge are overpowering and the crystal clear water at the base is fresh enough to drink. The waterfall flowing over the top is only a mere trickle compared to the torrent it becomes during the wet. Lying on your back looking up at the overhanging ferns you can see individual drops of water falling, floating and hurling towards you. Even though it is only a drop of water it takes every effort not to flinch. Gravity in action.
The 5 hour hike through El Questro Gorge was super fun and involved us clamouring over boulders and wading through shallowish ponds to finally reach a waterfall flowing into a deep deep pool. Luckily we headed off early in the morning as we got to the waterfall in time to enjoy the tranquility just before the bus-load of backpackers arrived! This was the stand out highlight of our time in El Questro.
Overall an unbelievable glimpse into some of the most wilderness in Australia. We will come back someday!