The road is getting more picturesque as we journey on but I have to admit that the tiny bush flies and the intense heat is quite trying at times. However all that is forgotten as we drive deeper into the Kimberley area.
Our home for the next two days was a safari tent at Emma Gorge, part of the El Questro station. We decided to go “glamping” after our wonderful adventures in Africa in similar accommodation. We didn’t think about the heat this time!
We organised a trip to Explosion Gorge and Branko’s lookout for sunset drinks but first we had to find a picnic spot to satisfy our hunger – it was lunchtime and the drive to El Questro station passes a beautiful waterhole called “Jackeroo Waterhole” and this was the ideal place to relax for half an hour before a bone shaking 4 wheel drive tour.
The trip we booked is closed to public vehicles as the terrain is so rough. We boarded an open safari type vehicle with six other guests and set off along the roughest track I have yet experienced!
This also involved crossing a watercourse which appeared to me to be a river!
and then over some more stones
Then, whilst the vehicle was almost amphibious, we had a stunning view of the Homestead which is available for rent at over $3000 a night. We were told it is pretty special and every comfort is provided with gourmet meals and staff included.
The history of the station is interesting as it was a pastoral lease for many years and in 1991 a tall, handsome English aristocrat, named Will Burrell, arrived by helicopter and was interested in investing part of the fortune he inherited from his grandmother – the doyenne of the Penguin publishing empire. He liked what he saw and bought the million acres as a working cattle ranch. He intended to build a home for himself and envisioned a stylish getaway for adventurous travellers and ultimately a tourism venture with a range of accommodation from caravan park and camping to bungalows and tented cabins. After a lot of hard work and millions of dollars his dream was realised and today it is a luxury wilderness park with a variety of tour options, guided walks and self drive itineraries. It is now owned by an American company and open only from April to October because of weather conditions.
Our guide, Tommy, took us first to the great Boab tree where the Durack family camped in 1863 whilst droving their cattle from New South Wales to the Kimberley. The tree has the Durack carved initials and has increased in size over the years.
A very rough drive some time later brought us to Explosion Gorge where we left the vehicle and boarded a small punt for an hour on the water
The colours are truly amazing and the red of the rock contrasted with the blue water and the varying hues of green of the bush.
Then we spied a young freshwater crocodile just basking in the sun on the ledge. He remained motionless for some time and then suddenly slid into the water with a huge splash.
The name “Explosion Gorge” came about because Will Burrell apparently found a cache of dynamite one day and decided to go fishing. What better to attract the fish than an explosive such as dynamite so he lit it and the rest is history!
On the rough ride to our sunset lookout we came across a beautiful nest made by a bower bird and in such a safe location that it can never be attacked by prey or fire.
A winding road led to the top of an escarpment where a plateau gave us an amazing view of the river and the whole landscape of the area.
The colours began to change as the sun sank lower and out came the champagne and beers – very welcome after the dusty drive!
The moon reflected on the water before night fell making this a very special place.