Day 22 – First stop at El Questro was Saddleback Ridge Lookout. The track leading up to the lookout was a good 4WD track, pretty steep and narrow, and gave the Paj a bit of a workout. Upon arriving at the top, the scenery was stunning. We had 360 degrees view of the place – there wasn’t a bad view in any direction! On our way back, we stopped at the Pentecost River and took a walk – we came across this tree that was wedged in another. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Next stop, Chamberlain Gorge. What a mess the gorge was in as a result of the recent wet season. Huge boabs, some easily hundreds of years old, were pushed over as if they were bowling pins. We’d also heard that the homestead which sits right on the edge of the Gorge was also nearly washed away.
Day 23 – Today we took a look at Zebedee Springs. As the Springs are closed to the public at 12.00pm daily, we’d learnt that to go swimming you needed to be there first thing in the morning to beat the hordes. The springs themselves are a constant 28 degrees and are surrounded by a lush palm environment. We figured we would come back over the next couple of days to test them out.
We then drove on to Emma Gorge for a look. As we had arrived in the morning, we sat down to coffee and cake before walking into the gorge. The walk to the gorge took just under an hour and was pretty good. Towering walls either side of us and a waterfall was a great place to cool down after walking in the sun. The water was very cold – Grant was the only one keen to stand under a “shower” to get wet. Although rock hopping for most of the way in, the walk is definitely worth it.
Back at camp, we had another fire and a BBQ tea, followed by some live music over at the Station Store. Col Fitzpatrick, the resident entertainment, was playing – we really enjoyed his music and bought his CD. (We’re now starting to get a collection of local music…there’s some talented people up here).
Day 24 – We had a lazy start to the day today before heading off to Branko’s Lookout. On our way, we passed the Durack Tree, a large boab blazed with the pioneer family’s name from the 1800’s. It was here we also saw more boabs which had been bowled over during the wet season.
Day 25 – Grant had us up early this morning so we could arrive at Zebedee Springs just after 7am for a soak. There were already people in the Springs, so we took a walk up the hill to find our own spot. The water, although 28 degrees, was a little cold for me, especially as the nights are now cool to cold and getting out when the temperature was single digits was a killer! Lucky we arrived early as by the time we walked out at 8am there was a busload arriving. We think it would have been standing room only at that point.
Back at camp the realisation has finally hit that tonight would be our last night in the tent (you ripper!) We relaxed for the rest of the day and headed to the Station’s Steakhouse for dinner. It was a nice meal and a good way to finish our stay here.
Day 26 – Can you believe it, it’s our last camp pack up! Before we came on our Gibb River Road adventure, we had decided to finish our trip in a bit of style at Home Valley Station. We double backed the 40kms to Home Valley and checked into our “Grass Castle” for 4 nights. We finally had a real bed (you ripper!) And the pack up would only take a few minutes (double ripper)! The Grass Castle was nice – it had everything we needed for our stay, we even managed to catch up with some news, after not knowing what was happening in the world for nearly 4 weeks.
Home Valley was quite different to El Questro – the station which is run by the Indigenous Land Corporation focuses on training indigenous people about tourism, station life, and hospitality. We found the environment more relaxed…a typical farmstay like atmosphere.
Just prior to sunset, we headed out to the Gibb River Road and went to the lookout to see the sun set over the magnificent Cockburn Ranges. The scenery around here is simply spectacular – you can never tire of looking at it. It’s also funny as here you also get phone service – the only place on the GRR. Back at Home Valley, we headed to Rusty’s Bar & Grill for dinner with some local entertainment. Ah, and to be able to go back to a bed was wonderful.
Day 27 – today we had a look at Bindoola Falls which is on the Station but out on the Gibb River Road. After a short walk, we arrived to find a huge gorge with a waterfall which would definitely be a sight to see in the wet season. These falls are rarely advertised in trip books so it was a good find on the Station. The rest of the day was spent out on our deck enjoying the scenery from our Grass Castle overlooking Bindoola Creek.
Day 28 – this morning we’d booked ourselves on a horsemanship tour – an amazing tour which saw a gentle approach to training these magnificent animals. After lunch we headed off on a fishing tour. Here we were fishing, standing on the edge of the amazing Pentecost River, with the beautiful Cockburn Ranges in the background. With lines cast, we waited…and waited…and waited for a bite. Imagine our disappointment and disgust when some other campers arrived, stood about 10 metres from Grant and reeled in not one, not two, not even three or four, but five barramundi in about 30 minutes. They then got in their car and headed back to camp woo hooing and yee haaing in excitement. So again we wait…and wait. Later in the day, I actually hooked two barra – yes, I know I hooked two as I saw them jump out of the water, so I madly try to reel them in, only to have them spit the lures out right before my eyes. Very disheartening. Unfortunately Grant wasn’t as lucky – we’d spent 4 hours out there and he didn’t get a bite (Photos of the unhappy campers were not taken)!
Day 29 – Up early this morning and off to go horse riding. After being matched up with our horses, we headed off. Grant had Cyclone and I had Smokey. You may see Smokey appearing in much of the Station’s marketing material. Around 12 of us went riding through the Station towards the Pentecost River. Feeling like real cowboys in the outback, this ride was the best I’d ever done. We walked through bush, crossed a fairly deep creek, and saw heaps of stock as we made our way down to the River. The scenery really was to die for, the horses were fantastic and responsive, and the ride was worthwhile. What was supposed to be a 2 hour ride ended up being a 4 hour trip, but we loved every minute of it. It was really evident that our station ride leaders did too. Back at the Station, our legs and backsides surely knew we’d been out riding…Grant had that bow legged cowboy look down pat! Ha ha. Needless to say we took it easy that afternoon….
Day 30 – well this is it. Time to pack up and say goodbye to our Grass Castle and head back to our van in Kununurra. With the car all packed, we said our goodbyes and drove out to the GRR, with only a short trip needed to the Pentecost River. Time for some photos here, so I get out and take some photos of Grant crossing this famous river. On our way we stop for some last photos of some boabs before saying our farewells to the Gibb River Road as we arrive back at the black top. Pumping up our tyres again and a few more photos, we turn for Kununurra and before long we’re picking up the van
So it’s here where this adventure on the Gibb River Road has sadly come to an end. If we reflect on the past month, we’ve seen some sensational scenery and had fantastic experiences – memories to last forever.
Whilst the amount of traffic has hugely increased as the roads have substantially improved over the years, many say that this trip may no longer be “the last frontier”. However, one thing for sure is that the scenery hasn’t altered one bit and the landscape is still spectacular as ever. We will be back!
Grant & Linda.
|Kms Travelled Total 18,472