El Questro.

About 50km out of Kununurra was the turn off to the Gibb River Road. Anxious and excited. What did this road have in store for us?  We were about to find out. El Questro or El Q, as it’s known out here, was our first stop. We aired down and began the trip in. Three river crossings, but no big challenges, before we entered the gates where we would base ourselves for the next four nights. As we went unpowered we had to have sun for solar and setting up in this heat was unbearable, it was 37 again and quite distressing on the body. We needed our awning up this time for shade for ourselves so it takes about ten to fifteen extra minutes. Settled in and off for a swim down at the creek to get our core temperature down.

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The place was on fire while we were there with people turning up left, right and centre, it was just so busy all the time. They’d roll out each day early and then roll in by lunchtime and fill the place up again. Constant traffic and dust and the heat was always relentless. We had the same neighbours for about two nights in a row then it changed but we always had someone friendly and worth getting to know. All of us had our own stories to share either of where we had been, how we got here or where we were going. Hearing other people’s tales is all part of the learning.

The swimming hole at El Q near the restaurant.

The swimming hole at El Q near the restaurant.

Getting up each morning wasn’t a problem as the local donkeys woke everyone in camp around 5ish but we find that we are awake early anyway because of the fact that the sun is up so early. Walks were best done early in the cool of the morning so we would set out by 7.30am most days. Within El Questro there are several self guided walks and Gorges-Emma, El Questro, Amalia and Moonshine, along with Zebedee Springs and Champagne Springs, and four wheel drive tracks to lookouts such as Saddleback Ridge and Branco’s which is part of Explosion Gorge. Picking one or two gorges isn’t easy but after talking to people we did Emma and El Questro, visited Zebedee Springs and drove to the lookouts where Murray continued to improve his four wheel drive skills and confidence, much to my enjoyment…not, although I’m not as white knuckled as I once was. I can now release my hands and take photos.

These guys woke us each morning. Eeaaw.

These guys woke us each morning. Eeaaw.

Emma Gorge is outside the El Q gates and back up the road a bit, you can’t camp there as its all resort style accommodation with excellent facilities. This was day one of our stay, Saturday, and we were looking forward to our walk. The gorge walk was invigorating, not too long 3.2km return, but partly shaded and through some rainforest in sections,  it meandered along  Emma Creek which we had to cross twice. There were plenty of large boulders to negotiate with about the last hundred metres of the trail becoming steep and slightly difficult. Turquoise Pool was the first swimming section, some stop here due to difficulty of the track after this. Pushing on, the main pool and falls could be heard and we couldn’t wait to cool off. Temperatures of the pool vary from as low as 15degrees to 25degrees. At one side there is a thermal spring that seeps water through cracks at the base of the cliff and you could feel the difference near this area. We spent and enjoyed a couple of hours here, it was well worth the walk and climb and not too difficult. An very atttracive spot. Our neighbour, Nathan had also made the walk in and obliged us by taking our photo. As it was so hot again we returned to camp for the afternoon where we enjoyed some lunch and a cool down in the waterhole.

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Saturday evening was barbecue night at the station with beef, barramundi and chicken plus lots of salads and desserts. We headed up early for happy hour and a chat with Nathan. Dinner was superb the meats and fish were perfect. Entertainment was provided by singer/guitar player Chris Matthews and some whip cracking by Christian, which was a fundraiser for the RFDS. It was an awesome evening, we chatted lots and as we left I realised I had had a few too many drinks which left me a little unwell when I got back to camp. I wasn’t too happy that I lost all my dinner that I had enjoyed so much.

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This of course gave Murray something to laugh at me about the next morning as I was a little seedy and not so adventurous so we headed to Zebedee Springs for a freshen up in the thermal waters. A short walk in and we found this natural oasis at the base of sheer cliffs with lots of little pools to lay back and relax in for a few hours. It was so lovely and refreshing, just what I needed.  We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the waterhole back at the station and getting some housework done, like washing.

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In the late afternoon we headed out for a four wheel drive experience to Branco’s Lookout. This track had it all with an extremely rocky water crossing, long steep climbs and one amazing view when we reached the top, looking out over the Cockburn Ranges and the Pentecost River.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  Glad we went up before sunset though as it was a hairy drive which I wouldn’t have wanted to do in the dark. It took us several attempts to get across the river crossing as we came back because everyone else had decided to come up for sunset and we had to keep backing up at the second part for them all. Not many had their radios on or used common courtesy for others trying to cross. Very frustrating at times.

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Monday morning we headed out to take the walk into El Questro Gorge. On the way we stopped off and took a short walk into Moonshine Gorge Waterhole but didn’t do the gorge walk as the waterhole was only five minutes from the car park. At El Questro Gorge we only planned to walk to the halfway pool which was a 2.6km return walk as the MacMicking Pool at the end was very difficult to get to. Most of the walk into the gorge was shaded by rainforest and the walls of the gorge. Creek crossings, big boulders to climb and lots of rocks underfoot this gorge walk had it all and was certainly a challenge to my short legs at times, I often had to sit down and slide over a boulder. Lots of climbing later we came into the halfway pool section which was excellent for swimming. The water was so cool and clear with plenty of rocks to rest on. There was a huge boulder where Murray had to shimmy up between the cliff edge and it to get up on top then slide or jump off the other side into the pool. This was where you could also climb up and travel on to the other pool but it was challenging, to say the least, and a lot further on. We enjoyed our rest at the half way pool and headed back out an hour later. The afternoon was filled with swims back at camp and relaxing in the shade.

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In the early evening we headed to Saddleback Ridge for some fourwheel driving and a sunset.  It is a 7km round trip but takes a while to do. Although the views are breathtaking on the drive up the road is very steep, narrow, has plenty of loose stones and steep hairpin bends on which you have to do three point turns. It was a nail bighter. When we reached the top I was very happy but knew we still had to drive back down which did not thrill me but the view made all those thoughts go away. It was breathtaking and offered a 360 degree view over the Wilderness Park escarpments with the Station and the Homestead in the distance.

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We have seen so many different styles of campers, tents and vans, lots of travellers from all over Australia and other countries, both young and old, and watched people concoct meals on many styles of cookers. Rooftop tents are very popular especially among the European tourists. Across from our camper the last two nights we had German tourists in two tents and a rooftop,  three men and two women, late sixties to early seventies. When setting up their tents one of the women was inflating her mattress by mouth and while watching her we realised it was a self-inflating mattress, not too sure if she knew.  Cracked us up.  The women went for a swim. One returned in her swimmers, went to the car, not trying to hide and directly opposite where we are sitting. She begins to take off swimmers, puts on bra, struggles with getting undies on and we can’t help but see all. She then wanders around camp with the other one who has brought the washing back from the line in their undies with tops on but no shorts. Together they fold washing having a great old chat. They wander back to the laundry still no shorts over undies, neither lady was petite. We just sit there and laugh. Gotta love some people.

Someone didn't make it one night. Took a bend too fast.

Someone didn’t make it one night. Took a bend too fast.

Packing up was best done early because it heats up so quickly here, we were up around 5.30 Tuesday morning, even then it was already 27 or above. This place was amazing, challenging and rewarding. We have had a wonderful time. The water has been so beautiful, cool and clear. I have challenged myself on all the walks and feel quite satisfied and proud. Bring on the next part of this road.

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Cheers xo.

About Leanne

Traveller, Cook, Blogger, Teacher's Aide, Swimmer, Mother, Wife and yoga lover. Now retired and enjoying me time.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Challenges., everything, Life, Love and Laughter., New People, Swimming, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to El Questro.

  1. Helga says:

    You certainly are getting lots of 4 wheel driving practice.Guess not all tourists are as prudish as me!,!!!.Cant believe you are almost halfway through your trip.Happy birthday for Sunday Leanne. Hope it is a memorable day for you and that you spend it at some fantastic place. Lots of love Helga xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Helga, missing you. We will be at Cable Beach for birthday as we are now in Broome. Has been a nostalgic day with Mum’s anniversary. One year, feels like forever since I talked with her. Love to you and Jim. Take care xo


  2. Mick T says:

    Enjoying your blog!


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