We’d only been driving for a few minutes when we rounded the bend and were confronted by the amazing spectacle of the Pentecoste River flowing wide and shallow in front of the Cockburn Ranges.
There was a queue of vehicles the other side of the river. As the first vehicle exited the water in front of us another departed on the other side. We sat and watched the line he took noting the depth of the water.
As he exited the water we watched the other side and noticed that no one was moving. Craig was driving and not going to wait around, we were off! The Pentecoste is a tidal river but the tide was down and the stone causeway meant the water was quite shallow. Having said that there was a slight dip just before the exit on the other side where we felt the car being pushed sideways by the water. Craig put his foot down and we were out.
It wasn’t until we were driving up past the queue of at least 10 cars on the other side that Emma realized we hadn’t taken any photos. Craig wasn’t about to turn around and cross again so here’s an image borrowed from Google!
El Questro Station
Not much further along and we arrived at El Questro Station. After taking the turn into their driveway we still had another 17km and two water crossings before reaching the station. El Questro is another million-acre property, once a cattle station it this is now privately owned and run as a tourist resort and wildlife park. They require visitors to purchase a ‘park pass’ for $25 per person, which lasts for a week. We thought the prices they were charging were over the top, but the natural attractions here are spectacular.
We were lucky to find a spot in the Black Cockatoo campground right on the river. Craig decided to check the trailer suspension again and found that the other side had broken. He spent the afternoon jacking up the trailer again and removing the offending part. The workshop provided a new bolt and welded it up in exchange for Craig helping repair a broken window in a tour bus. Craig had the new part installed again in short order now that he knew how it came apart.
El Questro Gorge
The next day we tacked the El Questro Gorge hike. The first half of the walk is relatively easy going over uneven and rocky ground but not steep. After taking a quick dunk to cool off we spider-man crawled over the large boulder to continue up the gorge. Sometimes in shade, sometimes in full sun we zigzagged across the small stream. The path grew more and more difficult to follow as the boulders got larger and the way grew more arduous. Finally we reached the end, a beautiful and tranquil waterfall and swimming hole. We were grateful for the refreshing swim and sat and had some lunch.
The return journey was slightly easier as it was down hill, but still had to be careful foot placement to avoid twisting an ankle. All up it took us 5 hours.
The next day Craig’s knees were especially sore so the trip to Zebedee Springs was well needed. From the car park it is a short easy stroll on flat ground to reach the springs. These natural hot springs pump water from the ground at an even 27 degrees all year round. There are numerous pools both up and down stream from the path and we found a lovely spot to sit comfortably and soak our muscles. The springs are only open from 7am to midday with the afternoon reserved for tour groups. So at quarter to twelve we headed back to camp. We considered exploring one of the four-wheel drive tracks but in the end relaxing in camp with a cold beer was the outcome.
Our final day at El Questro we drove out of the main driveway and up the road for another 10km before arriving at Emma Gorge Resort. This is still part of the El Questro property.
We hiked the trail up the gorge and found the beautiful waterfall and swimming hole at the end. The water was pretty cold, but there was a small thermal spring feeding pool so if you found the right spot it wasn’t too bad.
Apparently there was a fresh water croc hanging out under a ledge on the other side of the pool, but we didn’t want to disturb him so stayed on our own side.
After the return trail we stopped at the resort and enjoyed a great hamburger for a late lunch at the restaurant before heading back to camp.
Emma Gorge is accessible by two-wheel drive from Kununurra as the last section of the Gibb River Road is sealed to the driveway. Even if you aren’t able to visit the rest of El Questro we recommend a stop at Emma Gorge.
There were plenty of other hikes, look outs, and four wheel drive tracks we could have explored as well as plenty of paid tours that El Questro run including boat cruises and horse riding trails but we had to get wriggle on or we won’t make it back to Melbourne when our year is up.