Western Australia: El Questro Station and Lake Argyle

(19/7/2018 – 23/7/2018)

And back on the Gibb River Road again where we travelled about 36kms to El Questro Station.    The El Questro driveway is a further 16km of dirt road in and high clearance 4WDs are recommended.  

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Gibb River Road to El Questro Station

El Questro has transformed from a pastoral property to a very popular tourist destination.   El Questro overlooks the Pentecost River.   Along with the camping fees , we also had to pay for a Visitor Permit to allow us to stay at El Questro and participate in its many activities.  This station is huge and was very busy.  There are many gorge walks/trails, hot springs, lookouts, boat cruises, horse riding, swimming holes and 4WD tracks.  Along with the usual caravan park facilities, there is the Swinging Arm Bar, Steakhouse Restaurant and live entertainment of an evening.

We only had two nights at El Questro, so that meant 2 jam packed days of sightseeing but it was awesome!!!  It is expensive to stay but there is a lot to see and do so you could obviously spend more time here.   I think the longer you stay you can get more of a discount.

We started the morning with a swim at Zebedee Springs.  Well, it was actually a sit in the water rather than a swim LOL.  The springs are an easy, short walk from the car park and are set in amongst the rainforest and beautifully warm (28-32 degrees Celsius).

Unfortunately the springs are only open to campers/visitors in the morning (7am – 12 noon) so it gets very crowded,  with everyone trying to find a spot to sit in and relax in this very natural lovely oasis!!!!

From the springs, we decided to have a go at walking some of the El Questro Gorge Trail (Grade 4).   We hiked in to the Halfway Pool (which is about 2.6 kms return).  This is where Andrew and Mitch stayed for a swim!!   There was a huge boulder to climb up and over if you wanted to go further but we just hung out at the swimming hole for a while before heading back.  It was a really lovely hike, nice and shady so we were out of the sun for the hottest part of the day.

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We finished off the day with a spectacular sunset picnic at Branco’s Lookout.   Wow, it  was a fantastic 4W drive up to the lookout, very bumpy and rocky, we loved it!!   Branco’s Lookout was a great spot to watch the sun go down over El Questro, such a good way to end an awesome day of adventuring and exploring.  We even saw a crocodile in the Pentecost River down below.    By the time we left to return back to camp, it was dark so it was pretty scary driving back down but it was ok as there were a line of cars going back too.

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On Saturday we packed up early in the morning and drove out to Emma Gorge which is about half an hour down the road and is still part of the El Questro Wilderness Park. Luckily we were there early as there were not alot of parking spots available to fit the car and caravan!!!   There is no camping at Emma Gorge, but there is a lovely resort with tented cabins, a restaurant and a big swimming pool.

We had to manage a pretty rocky path in and there were lots of boulder hopping/scrambling and climbing and then at the end was a beautiful swimming hole, so well worth the walk in (its about 3.2 km return).    Andrew did have a swim but the water was too cold for me!! LOL.    We did get a tip however, that if we head over to the rocks on the right hand side there was a lovely warm spring so we sat in there for a while, that was nice.

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After spending the morning here, we then drove to Kununurra.  We arrived here in the afternoon where we had a late lunch and did a quick grocery shop at Coles.

Unfortunately, for me, the Kimberley Fine Diamonds/Argyle Diamonds showroom was closed.   Lucky for Andrew it wasn’t open as I am sure I would have found myself a nice little or perhaps a big diamond to buy particularly the very rare Pink Diamond!!!   Oh yes indeed!!!!   The Argyle Diamond Mine (owned by Rio Tinto) is the largest open cut diamond mine in the world and tours are available from Kununurra.

We left Kununurra and then continued on to Boab Tree Rest Area for a free camp overnight.  As you could not pre-book at the Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park we decided to stay here overnight and get up early the next morning and head to the resort.   Lake Argyle is the last stop in WA before the NT Border.

Lake Argyle is Australia’s largest body of fresh water.  Lake Argyle has a surface area of 1000 square kms and a shoreline stretching over 900 kms.  It was formed by the damming of the Ord River back in 1972.      Lake Argyle is home to freshwater crocodiles  (approx 30,000), native fish (26 species), a few varieties of freshwater tortoise and bird species (approx 270).

After we set up on an unpowered site with beautiful views of the Carr Boyd ranges, we then took a drive around the area and along the Dam Wall.    The red rocks surrounding made a fabulous backdrop for the water which was a brilliant blue!!   There were a number of lookouts, driving, walking and cycling trails about the area.

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Later in the afternoon we headed to the Infinity Pool at the resort.   Oh gosh, it was cold and it took a while to get used to the water but I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on a photo in the famous ‘Infinity Pool’!!!     It was pretty crowded with people in the pool trying to get “that shot”!!  LOL, including us LOL but we just waited it out until we could have the spot to ourselves.

We also met another travelling family here, ‘Walkers Go Wandering’ who were from Adelaide Hills, SA.    Matt and Ally had 2 boys (Levi  and Taj).   We met up and had drinks with them in the evening.

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There are also a variety of tours, boat cruises, scenic flights and helicopter rides available from the resort.   We decided on a lunch time cruise and managed to get the last 3 spots for the next day.    We departed by bus at 10.15 am and travelled down to the water and then returned at 1.30 pm.   We really enjoyed the cruise, it was a beautiful day out.   Good commentary, crocs and wildlife spotting, plenty to eat and drink, complimentary beer and wine with lunch and then you could also have a swim afterwards.

 

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Once we returned back at to the resort, we packed up and headed across the NT Border to another campground called Zebra Rock Mine.

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Well, that wraps up my travel blogs for Western Australia.    We spent 3 months in this magnificent state, could have spent 6 months or more quite easily and I wish we had more time here, oh well, we can always come back!!

 

(19/7/2018 – 23/7/2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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