Whether you’re starting or finishing the Gibb River Road, you’ll pass one of the most well known stations along here – El Questro. You could say this Kimberley station is a destination in itself. Over the years, we’ve pretty well taken full advantage of what’s on offer, except for the afternoon cruise on the Chamberlain River. So we booked in for a couple of nights and checked this tour out.
On the day we arrived, ELQ was buzzing as the Gibb River Bicycle Challenge was due to finish during our stay. Accommodation and camping sites were all close to being booked out, and so was our cruise for that afternoon.
Our Tip: ELQ have expanded their number of powered sites and added new amenities blocks to cater for the increased numbers. We’d recommend booking well in advance if you’d like a powered site.
The cruise departs at 3pm for a 1.5 hour journey, before returning very close to that golden hour for photographers. You can grab a ride with the ELQ team in of their open-air safari style transfers, but we opted to drive ourselves and meet the crew and other guests at the pier dock.
It was smiles all around as we boarded the boat, taking approximately 25 people. The crew of three included a skipper, a tour guide providing commentary, and a stewardess who all made passengers feel welcome and were ready to answer questions.
Leaving the dock we slowly meandered our way along with all eyes locked to the banks and the waters’ edge looking for crocodiles in the warm water. Many “rockodiles” and “logodiles” were spotted, but we were out of luck with the real deal.
Our guide happily shared their knowledge of the Chamberlain Gorge with its history, flood levels, start point, length, depth, fish species and habitat. Their keen eye had our boat pull up alongside a cliff face where we could see some cute rock wallabies going about their business.
Their surprise for the afternoon was when we set anchor in the middle of the river with its towering cliffs either side and a rock ledge in front of us. It’s here the crew handed out small food pellets for us to feed the fish, but with a twist. One of the river’s fish species is the very clever Archer fish – these guys normally use their gills and stomachs to squirt streams of water from under the surface at unsuspecting insects. A direct hit sees the insect fall into the water and then the fish gobbles them up. However, today we were those insects! Holding the pellets out at arm’s length from the boat, we were ready to be squirted before dropping the food. Just like a symphony of water fountains, the Archer fish squirted on cue and it was extremely funny to watch. Their aim is excellent as many passengers found out! Large catfish also joined in on the feeding frenzy, as well as a whopping metre plus barra which also gets a regular feed.
While this was all happening, the stewardess arranged a huge fruit platter at the rear of the boat for everyone, and cold drinks were also included. Being anchored here for half an hour to feed the fish and have some refreshments was a fun-filled way to spend some time.
When it was time to head back, we could see those giant cliff faces beginning to change colour. It was just like someone had brush stroked the rock faces a deep burgundy red colour. Incredible!
With a few more games between the crew and passengers on the way back, it wasn’t long before the boat arrived back at the dock and everyone disembarked. A sensational afternoon!
So if you’re visiting El Questro and taking in its great 4×4 tracks, gorge walks and swimming holes, why not see it from another perspective and join in on the Chamberlain River cruise. The gorge itself is simply stunning, and being able to experience those cheeky Archer fish first-hand is something that is completely unique.
Catch you next time!
Grant & Linda
My Aussie Travel Guide