El Questro as mentioned in our previous post, was very fancy and quite large! They had a number of gorges and walks that you could visit and complete whilst staying there, they even had a double-sided page for each explaining all you needed to know. Unfortunately even with both sides of the piece of paper covered, there was little information that helped us in the end decide on a plan of attack.
After some time deliberating which gorges to visit, based on the little information provided and what we had heard whilst on the Gibb, we made a plan. Our first stop was to be the Zebedee Springs, which was only open from 7am-12pm. We wrapped our heards around why it was closed after 12, it was either that the hot tap was turned off at that time to save water, or staff just wanted to springs to themselves for the afternoon. What do you think?
We arrived and the car park was almost full, save one spot for us. This again was a very big change to the other places we had visited on the Gibb and at Karijini where you always had an abundance of parking.
We walked through a tropical trail, over some creeks and into an open area filled with people. The springs were warm and even though it was a warm day early in the morning, people seemed to like chilling in that water. It was way too busy for us to get in sadly, but we dipped our toes in to feel the water, really cool and strange to have bath like water in the middle of a tropical looking Aussie bush.
The next stop on our agenda was then to the El Questro gorge itself. A small dirt track in brought us to a very long water crossing. They had a sign posted right at the entrance saying that high clearance was required and to take caution. The water was murky from the dirt probably stirred up by people passing through so there was no way for us to really determine the depth, and it lacked a depth sign like other crossings we had encountered.
Whilst we were standing assessing the situation, a few cars came to the crossing. They were all older couples that all stood around chatting with one another and then got in their cars and braved the crossing. Some families also joined our party, their kids took out the GoPro’s and off they went over the crossing as well. All the while we were watching. The cars differed, so our Otis (the car’s name courtesy of Alex) would possibly have been fine to cross in comparison to cars that went over, and the water seemed to only hit around the middle of the wheel. However we were just too uncertain of our skill driving over deep murky water. While checking out everyone else’s movements Alex noticed a small track on the side of the crossing. We decided that we were happy to go on foot from there, leaving Otis safe on land. We got ¾ of the way on the track and it ended, right next to some even murkier water with reeds and plants everywhere. As this was technically croc country, and the path was full of long grass, so also snake territory, we pretty much hightailed it back to the car.
We took all of this as natures way of telling us that we should just get out of there. El Questro’s gorge and all its beauty is yet to be seen by us, the gorges loss really.
With a lot more time on our hands and a plan that was, well no longer a plan, we headed towards Amalia Gorge. At our check in the day before this gorge had not been on the recommended list of the lady behind the desk, however it was close by and the small description detailed a nice interesting walk with a pool at the end.
We started the walk in, noting that there were only 2 other cars in the parking area. The track was marked by small blue dots painted on rocks along the way, however as the few cars in the parking area indicated, it was maybe not a very popular place to stop as it was also not very well maintained. The dots were mostly on top of rocks so that you would only see them once right over them, and over a track with lots of stones as the base it was a little confusing to find our direction.
1/3 the way in we crossed one of the couples that owned a car in the parking area. They were lovely, they said it was well worth the walk and that there would be a private pool for us at the end. Unsure of where the owners of the other car were we continued on. We had to sit on the rock at one point and shimmy across, with our legs handing over the ledge and a pool at the base at a highish drop. Another occasion we had to slowly and carefully, again shimmy across a downward slanting rockface, on our feet this time. The pool at the base of that stretch was insanely deep even though it was small, we definitely did not want to fall in there and be unable to escape.
After these little adventurous climbs on the path we had to trek upwards according to the map. At this point we have reverted to using the map completely, hoping its curves were in fact the real direction as the blue dots had vanished. We climbed and climbed and at some point I said to Alex that maybe we had gone too high as there was no visible walkway to head down. He scouted the area, located where the end pool may be and we walked down in that general direction. We finally happened upon a blue dot!
We definitely had lost our way, but after a few minutes down from the high slope we found the track and then we were at the pool.
As the couple we passed had said, we have the place to ourselves. It was very warm, especially since we had climbed a lot when we probably didn’t need to. However we were not so keen on swimming. It may have been to the badly positioned blue dots, and the whole crocodile situation, but either way we did not swim. Instead we sat under a shaded tree and just watched the stillness. That was until a giant lizard or in fact properly referred to as a goanna jumped into the water, snatched up a fish and then slithered back out into the bushes just a few feet away from us. It was more the sound that made us jump at first and then we caught sight of it and jumped even more. Definitely a great decision of ours to not go swimming!
A few moments after the goanna had slithered back into its hiding place, a couple walked into the clearing and joined us at the pool. They were from Tasmania, originally from the UK, but had then moved to Perth for some time and then after a while decided to move to Tasmania. We really enjoyed hearing their story because in a way we felt we were a little similar. They were also at that moment doing a similar trip to us, travelling around Australia. It was not their first time either, they had done it back when they were our age, moved around a few times and then decided to travel the country again. Again we really related to their story, finding it wonderfully exciting that others around the world shared that same desire to move and try new things. It definitely fueled my excitement more for our move to the Netherlands at the end of the year.
After our nice chat, Alex and I decided to brave the unmarked track and head back. On the way back we were able to find the right way, saving us having to trek upwards again. After crossing the few little difficult spots, along the way we chatted about our trip, the exciting parts to and then our move to Holland. The gorge may have not been our favourite but it fueled our already existing excitement about our trip and our move and all the many exciting adventures we want to do together in the future.
Back in the car we decided that El Questro had been wonderful and yes there were many more gorges we could visit, but we only really wanted to now see Emma Gorge and so off we went. Emma Gorge was still apart of El Questro, but it was out of the section we were in, back on the Gibb for a little bit and then a small turn off on the other side of the road.
We pulled into the area and it was similar to El Questro where we had stayed the night before, however it was smaller and seemed a little quieter. We decided to have a look in the little shop they had just to see if there was a little snack we could have. We noticed they had a small café/restaurant and once we saw the menu we actually sat down and ordered lunch. It was amazing! We felt like we were spoiling ourselves, sitting and eating delicious food, and not having to wash any dishes.
Once we were fed we walked into the gorge. This again was signed with the little blue dots, however given it was maybe a more popular place to stop, they were a lot clearer!
A truly lovely and beautiful walk through the gorge, with lots of little climbs and big rocks, brought us to a stunning pool and waterfall.
Even though this was maybe a popular place to visit, given the tracks walking level being a little higher it may have deterred some people from attempting it, leaving the place almost completely to ourselves.
We braved the very cool water and had the best swim we have had on this trip so far. It seriously was absolutely amazing, the water was so clear, so invitingly turquoise and just refreshingly beautiful. The waterfall was lovely and the all around the gorge’s cliff face was water trickling down.
On the information page it noted that the pool had a thermal spring to the side of it. It was tucked right around to the edge of the pool but the few other people who were at the pool were sitting in that thermal spring, so it was not hard to find. Swimming over there was spectacular, you had cold refreshing water, that turned to nice normal temp, to then a warm bath. We checked it out and then preferred the cooler water so swam back into the picturesque pool.
Reluctantly after a while we decided to head back. The walk back was just as lovely, as most of the track was shaded. Along the way we had decided that if we ever drove the Gibb again we would choose to stay at the Emma Gorge El Questro side rather than the other one, just to be able to see this gorge again and again.
In the car we waved goodbye the best gorge we had swam in thus far on our trip and headed towards Kununurra. This was also farewell to the Gibb. A seriously amazing 9 days. Being remote but having hot water and flushing toilets, meeting so many wonderful people, talking about our trip and getting excited about others, and mostly just having time together, off the grid to explore that part of WA.