Tuesday 19 May 2015

Drysdale to El Questro

One of the many 'jump ups' which is a section of bitumen on the gravel road

The trusty pathfinder never missed a beat

Ellenbrae Station

By far the best campsite on the Gibb River! It is understated in the HEMA book and because it has no gorges or big bushwalks nearby it is not as popular to stay as the other camps and stations. But we pulled in for a quick look (and to taste the famous scones!) and ended up staying the night.

The homestead itself is the smallest in the Kimberley and is basically a shed with a donga next to it as sleeping quarters. The people who manage the station are lovely and sell scones jam and cream, coffee and tea and light snacks such as toasted sandwiches.

There are two camp areas at Ellenbrae. We stayed at the ‘ringers’ site which has the best little campers kitchen and outside shower and toilet with a bath!

We stayed a night and it got bloody cold there after dark. And there were a few mozzies about too.  But we lit a fire and sat up oh so late (8pm!). There were only a few other people camped there and again the stars were bright and the sound of silence (once the kids were in bed) was very soothing for the soul.

The famous scones from Ellenbrae Station 

The outside bath and shower at Ellenbrae

NIGHT 6 and 7
Home Valley Station

A swimming pool, a playground, toilets and showers, a restaurant, and guided tours. This place really has everything. Apart from a shop that sells food! Our supplies were dwindling to tins of baked beans and spaghetti so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch from the Dusty Bar restaurant. Barramundi, chips and salad.

The kids spent a good portion of the afternoon in the playground and the pool with the other kids we keep bumping into along the way since Coral Bay. There is also an indigenous school group camping here with us and they are travelling the Gibb River road with a cappuccino machine making coffees for the travellers for a gold coin donation. Very random, but we supported them by grabbing hot chocolates for the kids, coffee for craig and a cup of tea for me.

NIGHT 8 and 9

El Questro Resort
Im going to be honest here… The gorges around El Questro are stunning but I didn’t love El Questro resort. 
I was expecting big things because there is a lot of write ups on how it is fantastic, but I found it VERY touristy and VERY expensive. It is the last stop (or the first depending which way you are travelling) on the Gibb River Road and it has the most gorges and walks around it. The resort itself is bitumen road from Kunnaunrra to El Questro turn off then it is 16 km into the resort on dirt. Since it is only an hour from a large town I was surprised that the prices for food, beer and fuel were the most expensive on the Gibb.

The resort has a kind of ‘wank ’or ‘up themselves’ appeal (for want of a better word) and for a family with three kids in a dusty old camper we were treated a bit like poorpers compared to the couples coming in hire cars. I was not given a brochure on the tours nor was I offered any information about the fine dining restaurant (the well dressed couple checking into a bungalow in front of me got given all of this).

All of the walks were full of people compared to the previous walks on the more isolated parts of the Gibb. It was also expensive to see the gorges ($20 per person per day for a pass). So to say I was a little disappointed with the resort is an understatement.

But not wanting to be too negative I will throw to the positives of the place.

The gorges.

Zeebee dee springs.
A beautiful hot springs with an easy twenty minute walk in through palm trees and across a board walk. The springs are warm and very relaxing. They are only open from 7am till noon then the exclusive guests of the resort get afternoon access (apparently John farnham was there a couple of years ago!). We got there at 7.30am and lucky we did because the carpark was near full.

matilda at  Zeebedee hot springs

El questro Gorge
A moderately hard walk through the middle of a gorge, palm trees on either side and  several water crossings. The track eventually leads to a large swimming hole but with the kids we never made it that far. We only got about half way in and found ourselves a beautiful shallow rock pool and the kids had a swim there instead. Some friends we have made on the Gibb rd walked all the way in and one of them fell a metre and a half down off a boulder and hurt himself so it did get a lot more difficult on the last half.

El Questro Gorge entrance
El Questro Gorge rock pool

Emma Gorge
Stunning at the end but it was a hard hour walk through a very rough and winding uphill track. Big rocks that we had to lift the kids over and several water crossings. I was amazed at my little mountain goats who climbed the rocks all the way to the top. I left Craig and the girls at the small swimming hole about 100 metres from the end then walked (climbed) the very hard last bit to get some pics of the beautiful waterfall. The kids probably would have made it but there were a few steep drop offs and loose rocks and I didn’t want them getting hurt, or worse.

Emma Gorge

Emma Gorge 

Turquoise Pool, Emma Gorge

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