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Thread: The Kimberley (El Questro on the Gibb River Road)

  1. #1
    Forum Enthusiast
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    Jan 2015
    Northern Suburbs Melbourne

    The Kimberley (El Questro on the Gibb River Road)

    Merry Xmas all,

    Hi everyone,

    After a fairly full day we approached the turn off to El Questro Station from the Gibb River Road, it was bitumen up till there. It then becomes a good gravel road through scenic country for the last stretch (we thought it was good, maybe others wouldn’t) into the Station proper.

    Just before you arrive there you have to cross the Pentecost River, and then the main station building itself.

    Our lovely cabin (with Air Con!!) and the swimming hole in the River just fifty metres from it.

    Englishmen Will Burrell and his wife Celia bought El Questro when it was a dilapidated cattle station in 1991. They were determined to turn El Questro into a world-class wilderness resort and tourist destination, they opened it for business in 1992. They sold it in 2005 and in 2010 an American company “Delaware North Parks & Resorts” bought it and still own it today.

    Three nights there meant three sunsets so after getting directions to the best spots, we headed off on our first evening to Saddleback Ridge, we were told the track to it was not for the faint hearted, whoo hoo!!

    The top of the mountain in the distance is the look out, the track to it was a bit testy in a few spots but if you’ve done the high country then it’s no trouble at all.

    Looking back from the Ridge itself towards the access track and then a view from the lookout.

    Then the show we hoped to see.

    It petered out after that so we wound our way back, more difficult picking a line in the near dark at times but still good fun.

    Zebedee Springs is a must visit when at El Questro, they are only open from 7.00 am till midday each day. They say that is to protect the environment there but if your rich and or famous you can have it to yourselves all afternoon. (we did it in the morning!)

    The Springs are between 28 and 32 degrees all year round, they are located in a magnificent palm valley surrounded by huge cliffs which are 1.8 Billion years old, King Leopold Sandstone. The Range and cliffs around the Springs help create it’s own ecosystem of lush vegetation that attracts all sorts of wildlife and plant species.

    A Palm species that caught our eye was this spiral one, that lined the creek as we walked the track in, it is called a screw pine or a corkscrew palm by locals.
    What’s odd is it’s not a pine or a palm but a type of Pandanus, in fact the Spiral Pandanus. Here’s another useless fact, the female spirals to the right and the male to the left, how about that!!

    The girls sitting in the springs, and a few pics around them/us.

    Later in the morning we did the El Questro Gorge Walk, just near the turn off to it were these branding yards and a bronco panel. It was used by cattlemen on horses to rope unbranded cattle enabling them to bring the cattle to ground so they could be branded and if required castrated, (ouch!) these panels revolutionised station work and were thought to be first used around 1905.

    Along the Gorge walk there were a number of water holes with water still in them. On our last visit which was far earlier in the year than this, most had completely dried up, we were now hopeful we might get a swim at some of them or at least one.

    Along the track I spied one of Australia’s newest described bird species, a Silver Backed Butcherbird. It was exciting to see it for it was my 700th species that I had seen in Australia!!

    And then we arrived at this.

    The girls just chillin and then Kristie having a zen moment.

    Time for another sunset, this time we headed for the Pentecost River Crossing (on the Gibb) to see if the sun would light up the cliffs of the Cockburn Range that were near the river. There was a lookout a few ks further up the Gibb River Road that we were told about so that was another possible spot, on the way there we past these scenes.

    At the lookout we were too far away from anything that would give us a wow sunset, I took this next pic from it then another as we drove back down the road to find a place more appropriate.

    We stopped near some Boabs that would give us a silhouette, we pottered about admiring the change in colours all around us while waiting for the sun to do it’s thing.

    Early next morning as I pottered about the station precinct (letting the girls catch up on some zzzzzds), I was fortunate enough to catch this scene as the sun broke through some early cloud and lit up these young boabs.

    We drove to the Emma Gorge Resort, which was closed at that time of year but we were still able to walk up the Gorge to the falls.

    These next pics were taken along the road into the resort.

    The walk starts out fairly civilised but soon changes to rock hoping and in places hard to follow, it is not for those physically challenged.

    Some of the boulders that you make your way around showed signs of being under sea millions of years previous.

    At the falls you are greeted with a plunge pool that sits below nearly a hundred metres of towering cliffs. It was hard to capture as the sun never shines on the water or cliffs, but click on this next pic for a short video I took whilst there. You will find that the clip is **** about but I tried everything I could to rotate it but wasn’t able to do so, you may need to stand on your head or hold your screen on an angle, I think it’s worth it.

    We swam over to and under the falls themselves, but just before you get to the falls and plunge pool you pass a place called Turquoise Pool and that looked absolutely stunning so we soon returned to that and spent most of our time there.

    Swimming in this pool and diving off the rocks into it was every bit as good as it looks it would be.

    Accommodation has come a fair way from the early days at the Station, thank goodness!!

    That was located at the old brumby camp.

    At the Chamberlain River there are cruises a couple of times a day taking people up the Gorge to a number of Aboriginal art sites. We had done that previously, just as well for at this time of year they hardly run them at all due to the lack of tourists/visitors.

    Not far from there is an ancient Boab, called the Durack Tree, it was here in 1882 the family camped as they looked for a suitable place to settle. To commemorate that night they carved the letter “D” into one of the eight trunks.

    On our last afternoon at El Questro we drove out to Branco’s Lookout, on the way we passed this waterhole on the Pentecost River.

    We crossed over the Chamberlain River and made our way up to a ridge line that had expansive views over the nearly 1,000,000 acre Station. Not a great spot for a sunset so we took these next pics and then made our way back to the Station proper.

    We then spruced ourselves up a bit and then hit the night life, the light show was something else Ha!!!

    An interesting side note to the history of El Questro, before Will Burrell bought the Station in 1991, he hired a helicopter and flew all over the whole property, he noted it’s potential as a future tourist destination as well as how much live stock there was roaming around.
    Now I’m not exactly sure of the figures but years ago I was told the people who were selling it didn’t have a clue about just what they had in land and livestock but Will did. After negotiating the price and buying, the first thing he did was roundup all the stray cattle with helicopters and apparently with the thousands of stock that no one knew existed, just about paid off his investment. He basically got the place for nothing!!

    That’s where this one ends, we left on the next stage of our trip early the next morning.

    Col and Jen.
    Life is not a destination but a journey, make the most of it and remember, the worst day above ground is a whole lot better than the best one under it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member 2Lost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Great report and photos as usual

    Yet to get there but on the bucket list for next year at this stage.

    Thanks again Col for your effort

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    central west, nsw
    As always a great read. Thanks for the inspirations !

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