El Questro Wilderness Park

Travel period 13-17 May 2017

The Heart of the Kimberley

Located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia and covering over 700,000 acres, El Questro is a destination unlike any other. Known as the heart of the Kimberley, the vast and stunning landscape offers the freedom to explore the rugged sandstone ranges and majestic gorges.

How to Get to El Questro

El Questro is located 110 kilometres west of Kununurra and is accessed from the Gibb River Road. It is a sealed road coming from Kununurra with the last 16 kilometres on a well-maintained unsealed gravel road. Although the station is quite accessible you will need a high clearance 4WD to get into El Questro Station.

El Questro Wilderness Park

Established in 1903 as a cattle station and developed it into a Wilderness Park tourist destination in 1991, the station is set up on the banks of the Pentecost River. There is so much to see and do in this Wilderness Park, from majestic waterfall and deep gorges to rainforest and thermal spring, El Questro has something for everyone.

To give you some context, before we reached El Questro, we had already traversed across the Western Highway from Melbourne to South Australia, up through Coober Pedy then onto the Stuart Highway, Alice Springs and Tenant Creek.

From here, we kept going up the Stuart Highway then crossed the Buchanan Highway to Kununurra before we hit the Gibb River Road which took us to El Questro.

Be noted – Upon entering El Questro a visitor permit must be purchased for every adult. These are $22 per adult and $11 per child aged 5-15 years (visitor permits are valid for 7 days). Children aged 4 and below are complimentary.

El Questro Station

El Questro Station

We stayed at El Questro Station on one of the private riverside campgrounds. It was a bush, unpowered campground site and a great spot to set up as our base for four nights.

From our campground it was only a ten-minute drive to reception, the heart of El Questro station, where all the amenities are located, as well as the restaurant and bar. The station boasts with shower blocks, camp kitchen, BBQ area and laundries. It was a great atmosphere and the staff are very helpful and friendly.

As we arrived at the station late afternoon, we could not be more satisfied with our spot, settled in amongst the trees with the Pentecost River flowing softly through our backyard. Happy camper!

Mirror perfection on Pentecost River at our campground backyard

The next day, we walked into El Questro Gorge. This is one of the more challenging walks on the station, a very narrow gorge with steep rock walls, and involves climbing over rocks and creeks before arriving at the most stunning waterfall.

El Questro Gorge walk

The first half of the walk follows a narrow spring fed creek through palm and fern escarpments to a small, crystal clear swimming hole, where we had a swim and decided to head back. Apparently from this point forward the trail becomes more challenging and harder to tackle. 

Halfway on El Questro Gorge walk, we were rewarded with this spectacular swimming hole!

Back to the station, we made a booking for the following afternoon Chamberlain Gorge Cruise tour before we drove back to our campground and relaxed.

On our third day, we hiked into the iconic Emma Gorge. It is about a three-hour return trip to Emma Gorge and well worth it, once we witnessed the beauty of the gorge, waterfall and swimming hole.

Emma Gorge walk

The trail started at the El Questro Resort. It was quite a rocky walk to get to the waterhole, but a lot of trees along the way provided some shade. The waterhole is a nice deep turquoise pool. As we kept going along the trail, it took us to a large pool surrounded by massive cliffs and a stunning trickling waterfall from high up. It was simply stunning!

Emma Gorge Waterfall

We had a swim surrounded by rocky cliffs covered in ferns, making it a lovely experience.                                           

After we finished our gorge walk, we chilled out at the Emma Gorge Resort, before we headed back to our campground for lunch. We then went on our Chamberlain Gorges Cruise.

Chamberlain Gorge is a 3 kilometres long fresh waterhole eclipsed by towering escarpments. As the boat was cruising, we learned how gorges were formed by the interplay of several geological processes.

Chamberlain Jetty

After 30 minutes of slow drifting among the impressive rocks, our boat dropped the anchor. We enjoyed the fresh fruit and sparkling wine while taking in the scenery. We were also shown how to feed the local fish.

We were each given a handful of pellets and told to reach out over the water with a pellet between our thumb and forefinger. We soon had a school of archerfish competing to shoot the pellets down. They had a way of looking directly at each pellet just before they shot, so we could see we were about to get spat at.

Chamberlain Gorge

Our guide explained to us, the archerfish prey on insects and small animals by knocking them off overhanging leaves and branches with a jet of water expelled from their mouths.

We also saw other varieties of fish, including catfish and barramundi. The cruise was lovely and relaxing but the real highlight of the cruise were the towering cliffs along the gorge, it was spectacular!

On day four, we started early and got to Kununurra just after 10am. We then get the things we needed to fix our trailer bearing.

From Kununurra we travelled to Wyndham, Western Australia’s most northerly town. Situated 105 kilometres northwest of Kununurra on the Great Northern Highway, the trip takes about an hour. The road skirts along the edge of the Cockburn Ranges, providing stunning views. What a beautiful drive!

Wyndham sits on the edge of the Cambridge Gulf, and is surrounded by some of the Kimberley’s most spectacular landforms, rivers and wetlands.

As we drove into the historic port town, at the Wyndham Three Mile, there was a huge 20 metre long, 3 metre high, concrete crocodile in the park beside the road. The big croc reminds visitors to be careful of the local saltwater crocodiles who call the waters around Wyndham home.

The big croc at the entrance to Wyndham

The highlight of our visit to Wyndham was the spectacular and dramatic view from Five Rivers Lookout. From the Bastion, the hill overlooking Wyndham provides an amazing view of the surrounding landscape and is where we could see the Durack, King, Pentecost, Forest and Ord rivers flowing into the gulf.

Five Rivers Lookout

The vast mud flats that sprawl in every direction provides a remarkable unique panoramic view and can be described as one of the most unusual and remarkable vistas in Australia. 

The view across the rivers and mud flat from Five Rivers Lookout

Back to camp, we ended the day by swimming in the Jackeroo waterhole; a perfect way to finish off our trip into El Questro!

El Questro Wilderness Park is one of the most unique places in Australia. Boasting rugged landscapes and native flora and fauna, it is one of Australia’s last frontiers. Is truly a destination not to be missed!

Happy Travels!

Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.