Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 159. Kununurra

El Questro Wilderness Park

The entrance into El Questro
That's our destination today! Bec has always wanted to visit this amazing bit of Australian Real Estate; ever since she first saw it on 'Getaway'. Unfortunately for us, we are finding that things up here are very expensive; and since we've had to tighten our budget considerably since we lost most of our possessions in the QLD floods, we aren't able to afford to stay out at El Questro like we had originally planned. But not to be beaten, we are still going out there to do a day visit from Kununurra.

A creek crossing

El Questro is located in the east of the Kimberley and extends for approximately 80 kilometres north-south and 60 km east-west, totalling just under 1,000,000 acres in size. The property boasts four major river systems - from fresh water springs to the salt-water estuaries in the northern part of the property.

The Kimberley itself is one of the world's last unspoilt frontiers - an ancient land extending from Broome in the South West to Kununurra and Wyndham near the Northern Territory border. It covers an area of 421,000 square kilometres, roughly 700km east-west by 600km north-south. That’s five times the size of Tasmania, 1.7 times the size of the United Kingdom and 10 times the size of Switzerland.

And to think we have travelled around this major wilderness, and through the more accessible area's during our journey in this part of the country. We even did the first 100km's of each end of the Gibb River Road! (Maybe one day we'll return to tackle the complete length of the Gibb River Road?)

Livistonia and Pandanus Palms
First stop was 'The Station' or 'Township' as it's known here. We took the chance to check out the shop and camp grounds; and we also paid our $18 each for a permit to visit the station. The permit itself is valid for 7 days, so if the chance presents itself I think we'll try and get back here before we leave Kununurra. At the moment we can only allow a day trip, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Relaxing in the Thermal Springs

Another victim of the Gibb River Road
Next stop was Zeebedee Springs - where we found some thermal springs at the end of a short walk through lush tropical livistona and pandanus palms. Let me just say that this place is magic!

Walking into Amalia Gorge

Now it was time to tackle Amalia Gorge. It's a fairly easy walk, however there is a lot of rock scrambling and ledge hopping involved that requires a reasonable level of fitness and good balance - something that we are slowly attaining after so many bush walks and gorge tours!

Amalia Gorge is more of a steep sided valley than a gorge. The trail leads to a waterfall and beautiful pool halfway along, and then another pool and larger waterfall at the top of the gorge. Luckily for us the final waterfall was still flowing, due to the recent rains up here; but during the during the dry season the water stops flowing. We took a very quick dip in the  invigoratingly cool waters before making our way back down to the car. I think we were lucky to see the falls flowing, and we all really enjoyed the experience. The walk in was definitely worth it, as we even came across a large Water Monitor lazing in the sun!

Bec and the waterfall

By the time we returned to the car it was already mid afternoon, so we thought we would finish our day by driving up 'Saddleback Ridge'. The viewing platform at Saddleback Ridge is one of the most spectacular lookout points on El Questro. The track up to the lookout is quite steep and is mostly single lane, so it is recommended that only confident and experienced four wheel drivers attempt to drive up the track. The drive up was a little challenging, but nothing too difficult. We even encountered a vehicle driving up the track as we were coming back down; so I had to reverse into a small alcove on the side of the track at a switchback; to allow him through. As the track is so steep, it was a little bit daunting; but we made it!

The view from the Saddleback; overlooking El Questro Station

 At the base of the saddleback, we ran into Martin, Nikki and Scarlet! They travelled the Gibb River Road from Derby, and have spent the last few days here at El Questro. It was great to catch up, and we have organised for them to come over to our place for dinner tomorrow night. We can hear each others travel stories, and the girls can watch a movie together on the outdoor screen. Martin and Nikki suggested that we check out the El Questro homestead overlooking the river before we left; so as it was only a 10 minute drive away we decided it was a must. As it turned out we couldn't get too close as its for 'well paying individuals only', but we did get to see it from the river.

El Questro Homestead

The Durack Tree

It was dark by the time we returned back to Kununurra and our van. We finished the day with a quick clean up and reheated leftovers for dinner - Shepperd's Pie. Yummy!

It was a very long day, but well worth the trip. The experiences and memories will last a lifetime....

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