After our side trip to the Mitchell Plateau we stopped at Drysdale Station for a night before heading back onto the Gibb River Road again. Heading east we soon enough arrived at Ellenbrae Station.
Set on a million acres we followed the signs towards the homestead, passing the turn offs for the two campsites until we arrived at an oasis. A lush garden in the midst of the dusty land. We had arrived at the Ellenbrae homestead. It was around eleven am so perfect timing to indulge in their specialty – scones with jam and fresh cream for morning tea.
The caretakers based at the homestead run the tourism side of the operation, the camping and the hospitality. They have printed up a list of frequently asked questions which make interesting reading. From answering questions about who owns the land to how often and how they get supplies in during the wet season.
The scones were delicious and well worth the side trip. We paid some time wandering around the garden before returning to the car where a quick inspection found that the Anderson plug had somehow torn loose and was dragging on the ground. Fortunately Craig had installed fuses on the wiring so we taped it up out of the way resolving to look at it when we got to Home Valley Station.
This section of the Gibb River Road was in great condition and we made good time as the road was freshly graded. In fact we’d passed the grader earlier in the day. We stopped briefly at a look out point for a few pictures before arriving at our destination for the day – Home Valley Station.
Home Valley Station is around 3.5 million acres. Apart from the cattle operations they have made an effort to cater to tourists. As there is no swimming in the Pentecost River due to saltwater crocodiles, they have built a great swimming pool nearby to the Dusty Bar which had reasonably priced meals and drinks. As well as offering live entertainment from time to time, they were also showing the footy. There is a range of tours that can be done here from horse riding tours to helicopter flights. They have also created a number of bushwalking trails. All of this is backed up by a training initiative for local aboriginal youth in both tourisim and pastoral areas.
There are two campsites – the main caravan park like arrangement nearby to the shop and pool, and the river camp. When checking in we asked for the river camp as we’d heard on the travellers grape vine this was the place to be.
We pitched camp down by the river and cracked a beer as we watched the amazing light play on the Cockburn Ranges on the other side of the Pentecost river.
We were planning to do some of the bushwalks, but the next morning as Craig was filling the water tank he checked the suspension under the trailer having covered some pretty serious corrugations on the Kaluburu Road on the way to Drysdale Station. Lucky he did, a bolt had sheared off, which could have ended in disaster! After consulting our camping neighbor and borrowing an extra axle stand, the damaged component was removed safely. Craig shot down to the station workshop. They guys there were happy to supply a new bolt and weld up a new part to get us through to Kununurra. A few hours later after a lot of sweating and swearing Craig had managed to get the new part on. After all that it was decided a swim in the pool would be more enjoyable than a bushwalk.
The next day we set off on our bushwalk. We took the longer loop through the wildflow track, although there were not a lot of wildflowers about the scenery was lovely. Towards the end we took turn off for a trail that followed along the top of a gorge to a look out point before returning. It had been a warm day and we had worked up a sweat so another afternoon lazing in the pool and a couple of drinks from the Dusty Bar were in order.