ElQuestro Station Private site (Parrot) $164 for 2 nights includes $12 permit to visit all attractions
We decided on a private site as we had heard they pack and rack them in the general campground. Yes I can say it was definitely better being on a private site. But we couldn’t get a site with loads of shade or one that had access to the river, it was extremely hot while we were there so this made it even worse. Before arriving to ElQuestro we topped up our food supplies in Katherine and purchased fuel. The Gibb River Road is sealed all the way to the turn off into ElQuestro. The road into ElQuestro was terrible, Chris aired down but it wasn’t enough and when we got to our campsite he took more out. On our first day we had a look around El Questro Station and the campground and once again were sure that we made the right decision on a private site.
We did however, enjoy a flock of black cockatoos come in and have a little play. They are very timid and if we tried to get close they would go higher up in the tree. So out came the Canon 100-400 telephoto lense, it was the only way to capture them by not getting close.
For sunset we headed to Brancos lookout. That was certainly an adventure in itself, a true 4 wheel drive track which certainly put a smile on Chris’s face. First of all we had to cross the Pentecost River, it was an extremely wide section and very, very rocky. The first section was in water but not deep. The second section had no water but certainly had its fair share of rocks. Once over the river the rest of the track was very sandy, some sections had deep sand. It was at this point we remembered we had left our max tracks on the camper! So Chris spent his time keeping the momentum up in the deep sand so as not to get bogged. There were some really steep sections to climb with really tight bends and all while you had the sun in your face. I was certainly pleased once we arrived, great drive in and very exhilarating. The view of the Pentecost River was just amazing and with an awesome sunset we were pleased we made the effort.
We visited Zebedee Springs this morning, we were there by 6:45am. They open the gates at 7am and they close at 12 noon. The other hours are for the the guests who stay at the homestead for their private use. These thermal springs sit between 28-32c and were very relaxing, there is a larger pool at the bottom which is where we started from. After a short while I heard someone say “do they have leeches in here” not much comment from people and I didn’t think much about it but after a while and while talking to a lady, she all of a sudden said “I’m out of here, there are leeches in here” well I couldn’t get up quick enough and during my exit of from the water I stubbed my toe right into a rock. Yep you guessed it the rock didn’t move and I have a very black toe to show for it. After we were drying ourselves off, I said to this guy your leg is bleeding. Turns out he had a leech that had filled itself up and had dropped off.
You can keep going further up where there are more and more private little pools. Another lady I was talking to said to me you should go further up, there won’t be any leeches up there they all get washed down to the bottom pool, another good reason to go further up. We throughly enjoyed our time here.
The ElQuestro Station, can book all sorts of tours for you, they have cabins, safari tents and other sorts of accommodation. Or you can camp in the general camping ground or choose a private site. Once again as with all caravan parks in Australia, especially here in WA the powered sites have nice shady sites with access to water and some with grass and the unpowered sites are dusty and hot with no water. Another good reason to free camp wherever possible.
With the next sunset, we took the 4WD track to Saddleback Ridge. This track was just as exhilarating but not quite as bad as Brancos Lookout although it certainly had its fair share of thrills. Just before you arrive at the lookout you have to go up this extremely steep hill which is up a narrow track and just at the top it has a very sharp turn. All good fun and I was pleased to be out of the car once we arrived. The sunset was great as always in Western Australia, so we enjoyed a beer and made our descend back down the mountain.
It may only be a 3.4km return walk, but it is a pretty hard walk. The first part is quite easy then becomes increasingly harder as you go along. They do have directional markers but some are very hard to see, which meant we went through much harder tracks than necessary. We arrived at a waterhole and I read on the signs in the beginning that you cant swim here because there is a resident fresh water crocodile. I was beginning to feel all hot and bothered and really just wanted to get in to cool off. Luckily some people coming along said it was only a few more minutes before you arrive at Emma Gorge. I will say that being nimble and the ability to climb will definitely assist but all in all it is a really nice walk. The last section is all rocks and then you see it, you will definitely look at it and say “so glad I made it” It really is a very beautiful place, not much water coming down but enough to get the feel. It is amazing with all the ferns that grow around it. So time had come and I was boiling hot, so in I go. Good grief it is absolutely freezing and the stones which are all the way through it are very painful on your feet. So word of warning if you have any reef walkers I suggest you bring them along as you just need them until your deep enough to swim. Over to the right is a little water fall and a little pool. It is here though can feel where the thermal water comes out. It was so nice and warm there so we sat in there for quite some time. After a little while I heard someone say “hey there is a little freshie in here” I didn’t see him but he was apparently very small.
Time had come for us to set off back to the car. It was much quicker coming back down, all up with a swim and not going fast it probably took us about 3 hours to complete.
After the walk I decided it would be nice to have lunch at the cafe here. It was most enjoyable and Chris said it was the best squid salad he has ever had.
So with full bellies and feeling a bit tired we set off to find a camp for the night. We had seen some roadside stops but didn’t really want to be near anyone, so we just kept looking. It was getting near to dusk and we were getting quite worried as we couldn’t find anywhere to stop. Finally there was this clearing near a telephone tower which just happened to be a Telstra tower, I was very happy to have phone service again. What a brilliant night, awesome sunset and a very quiet evening with nobody around.
Lake Ellendale – Ellendale Station Free Camp
We are still travelling along the Great Northern Highway and we have arrived at Halls Creek. We have topped up with fuel at the service station. They also have an area you can top up with drinking water and a dump point. The town is well serviced with a supermarket and FREE WiFi.
Further down the road is a rest area called Mary Pool, there is a river which was mostly dry when we were there.It is a massive area well set back from the road in fact about a kilometre back off the main road. As you turn in they have rubbish bins and then you just continue in and find a place you want to set up. They have toilets, loads of shade, covered picnic table and a dump point.
Finally we had arrived at Lake Ellendale. This is an area that Ellendale Station ha set aside for people to free camp next to a waterhole. Unfortunately it had dried up quiet a bit but still enough water for us to get some fantastic photos. In the morning the cows come down to the waterhole to drink. It is really funny to watch as they are all excited and like a bunch of kids just been allowed to play outside. There is a bull and few calf’s, the bull is very protective of his family and just stands there and stares at you. What we found amazing was how the BirdLife was not threatened by the cows and how the cows were not worried about the BirdLife. They all just got along and was lovely to watch. It is very hot and dry here now and not quite as inviting but I’m sure after a good wet season it will be fabulous again.
Broome – Cable Beach Caravan Park $48/night unpowered and no water
Cable Beach is one of our most favourite beaches. Great body surfing waves and a wonderful surf life saving club on hand. They also have a van that hires out beach umbrellas and chairs plus boogie boards and many other items. To the right of the surf life saving club you can drive on the beach with a 4WD. You can drive for such a long way or stay close, the choice is yours. We love to take our car as we have our chairs, shade and everything we need to make lunch or afternoon tea. Just have to keep an eye on the tide times, we had to either keep backing the car up away from the incoming tide or driving in further towards the outgoing tide. Ganthemum Point is always a great place to explore. We have not managed to be there at low tide yet. When you are there at low tide you can go down to the waterfront and see the dinosaurs footprints. Anyway one day we will get this right. We were lucky enough to see an Osprey sitting on the platform of the lighthouse. Just above him was a massive nest with mum and baby in there, we watched him go out for fish and bring it back to feed the baby, what a good provider he is.
Cape Leveque – Middle Lagoon (Nature’s Hideaway) $50/night unpowered
We were determined to visit Cape Leveque this year especially since the car is all set up. Our waiter at Matsos told us about Middle Lagoon. So with us knowing nothing about it we booked online and set off. We aired down the tyres once on Cape Leveque Road, the road wasn’t the best and wasn’t the worst we’ve been on. It certainly had its fair share of corrugations and rough section. There were plenty of diversions as they have commenced preparing the road to put bitumen down making it completely sealed. Just before Beagle Bay the sealed part of the road starts and then it is sealed all the way to the top. We only had a short section of sealed road before we turned off towards Middle Lagoon. The road in starts off ok initially and then very quickly went to very soft sand. Chris still had the car in 2wd, he very quickly shifted that to 4WD and luckily the car just kept going. We were a little bit nervous at first as it was very sandy and narrow and just didn’t really know how far we had to go or what the conditions were like. Luckily or unluckily a car was coming the other way towards us and was on the radio to his mate further back that he had stopped as there was another car coming in with a camper trailer. Luckily were on the same station (UHF40) so we asked him what the road was like further up and he said we were in the worst of it now but does get a bit better. We found that most people leave there UHF radios on 40 which has been quite helpful at times getting updates etc. The truckies also UHF40 and and that is very helpful especially when you want to pass, they will let you know when it is clear up ahead.
We had finally made it in and we booked a ridge site. So this site was high on the ridge overlooking Ridge Beach. Such a magnificent view, we enjoyed watching the humpback whales breaching and playing far in the distance. They were there the whole time we were. When we arrived the weather was very windy and coming straight off the water. At our campsite is was much cooler. However when you walked back into the other campground it was very calm but also very hot.
The campground has toilets, showers, UV treated water, laundry and dump point. It is a large campground and for $5/night less you can camp further away from the ocean where it is not windy and has shade.
We had a massive sand dune to walk down which is red dirt sand, very steep and very hard to get back up. I do think the owners could spend just a little bit of time making that track just a little easier to get up and down. However, once down you are rewarded with a beautiful beach. Small waves, so for me I just enjoyed floating around the water.
The next day was so calm and perfect. Once again very hot but that just made the swim in the ocean even more rewarding allowing us to cool down. On our last day we had a very strong wind coming in from the land and this made it even hotter. Chris went snorkelling over the rocks and saw many fish, including a sting ray. We can’t remember the name of it but we have since found it that it has quite a dangerous barb.
There are many walks and a creek to explore. If you have canoes you could certainly enjoy a paddle between lagoons as it is quite sheltered. Most of the people staying here are fisherman, they take their boats out in the morning and always come back with a large amount of fish. We were very lucky one day when a lady came and offered us some freshly caught fish, Red Emperor. We’ve never had that fish before, the first nights feed we just fried it up, that was ok. But the next feed I made a green fish curry, oh my goodness how fabulous was that meal! I didn’t even take a photo as were too excited to eat that we forgot that part.
There is Telstra service if you stay close to the office, whereas at the campsite it is very patchy. Oddly, early evening I would get a really good signal for a short while then it would drop out.
We enjoyed our time here so much, we booked another night. For the third night he only charged me $30/night so I was quite happy with that.
Lombadina $40/night unpowered
Lombadina is located on Thomas Bay in the Dampier Peninsula. They have on site a bakery, workshop, craft shop and a church. When we first arrived I had the most wonderful greeting by the lovely indigenous young lady on reception plus so very helpful with the booking in process. I had requested a shady site and she made sure we had one. when staying at Lombadina, you are staying within the community which consists of about 70 Aboriginal people which make up the Bard community. We were personally shown to our site and given a run down on the community and how it was first set up by the missionaries. We were then left to ourselves to set up. While we were setting up a lady came by and said “do you like mud crabs” while munching on one. Chris is like “sure do” she invited us to join them in a feed of freshly cooked mud crabs they had just caught. I must admit they were really nice. After a feed and an introduction, us and Ash, Jazzy and their children Denzil and Ana all enjoyed a day on the beach fishing, swimming, collecting shells and a bit of snorkelling, such a wonderful day.
Driving on the beach is magic, there is about a kilometre of very soft sand you have to negotiate before the beach. This is achieved by making sure you lower your tyre pressure adequately. We kept the car in low and just cruised across, only with a few bits of slipping and sliding so not that hard.
We enjoyed a walk around the village this morning. The church is just so beautiful, it was built in 1934 from local mangrove and paperbark. It is still used today for mass services, weddings and the like. The craft shop was closed unfortunately, I did manage a brief look inside before they closed it and they certainly had some nice things in there but there wasn’t time for me to look and purchase. Next was the bakery, we met a wonderful gentleman who showed us around and told us all about the bakery. They use an old boiler that was off a old ship. I can only assume one that had sunk? But I’m not sure about that. They call it black top bread, as you can see from the photo the top is very black. They also make rolls which we certainly enjoyed. I asked if they are considering making other bakery items and he said they have been considering that. I hope to return some time soon to find out. They bake on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays each week.
We went on a day trip to One Arm Point, you pay $34 for 2 people to enter the community, this allowed us to drive all around the community and see the beaches. One Arm Point is run by the Ardiyooloon community. It is very well laid out and includes most services including a well stocked supermarket. The entrance fee also includes your tour of the One Arm Point Hatchery, this is a working aquaculture centre where fish, Trochus and other marine life are bred and released back into the ocean. We were entertained by a young indigenous gentleman who clearly loves his job. He did very well at explaining all the different types of fish, turtles and corals and their relationship.
Cygnet Bay is the only community that is not run by indigenous people. There is no fee to enter, they have a restaurant with a infinity pool and accommodation close to the water. They do pearl tours and sell their pearls in their shop. It is all set on beautiful grounds and beautiful views of the ocean. They also have a campground but I can’t say I would want to stay there, it was set very far back from the ocean and I wouldn’t exactly say it is swimming beach or a beach you would want relax on.
Kooljamin was the last place for us to visit this is Cape Leveque. I must agree with all the comments I’ve seen to date. The campground is very packed and you are camped almost on top of your neighbour. They also have other sorts of accommodation which looked ok from the outside, some were very close to the beach. The beach was very nice but I still like Middle Lagoon and Lombadina beaches better. You pay an entrance fee of $5 to walk around or $15 to drive around. I thought it might be nice to walk around, well I was wrong that day. It was an incredibly hot day and you have to walk down many, many steps to the beach. Of course what goes down must come up. It was stinking hot coming back up those stairs, definitely took the shine off my visit. I am pleased to say that we did choose the two best places to visit. There is only one other place we didn’t go to and that was Pender Bay. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t go there as it does sound beautiful. So may be next time?
We are now on our way back to Cable Beach Caravan Park to be set up and ready for our full day tour to the Horizontal Falls the next day. In the meantime we didn’t end up stopping at Beagle Bay on the way up so we thought we better have a look on the way down. We were so pleased we did, the church is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen.
The Trappist Monks first arrived in Beagle Bay in 1890. They had been asked by Pope Leo XIII to be missionaries to the northwest Australia. The first church was built around 1896 and built with bush timber and paperbark. The French Monks left Australia around 1900 as they felt their monastic lifestyle was not suited for such remote missions. I can only imagine how incredibly hard the lifestyle must have been back in the 1800’s, a very primitive lifestyle and would have been very difficult.
The Pallottine Missionaries from Germany replaced the French and continued there for 100 years. In 1907 the Sisters of St. John of God arrived from Ireland and they dedicated themselves to teaching and nursing including undertaking the care of the Stolen Generation children who were brought to Beagle Bay as per the governments orders. Sadly in 1914 when World War One broke out the German priests and brothers were under threat of arrest and placed under internment for the duration of the war at Beagle Bay. In 1917, the German Priests, brothers and local people began to build the present church. It was modelled after a photograph of a German country parish church. The church took two years to build and one year to decorate. 60,000 clay bricks were formed by hand and fired in the local kiln for the main body. As cement was unavailable during these times, lime was made by burning shell and used as a mortar and plaster hence why it is so white. A further 30,000 bricks were made for the 12 meter bell tower. The plaster was painted dark blue and mother of pearl shells were inlayed into the ceiling to replicate the stars and constellations of the night sky. A team of local women made the shell decorations for the church. The resulting work is a fusion of traditional Nyul Nyul, Mimanborr and Bard Symbols with traditional Christian symbols and European mosaic technique resulting in a unique expression of art and faith. I was in awe of the artwork and delicate work that was undertaken. You can see it was all preformed with such passion and love. If you ever have the chance to visit Beagle Bay please do as I could have spent hours at the church admiring the work and skill gone into this structure. Of course there have been cyclones and storms that have damaged the church over the years but the repairs that have been done, have been done with care.
This has been our most expensive purchase for our whole trip. But I must say it was a brilliant day and one we will never forget.
We chose to go with Go Horizontal Falls Tours, Go Beyond Broome. We were picked up from our accommodation around 7:30am and was taken to the airport with our pilot waiting for us. We boarded a Cessna caravan, such a tiny little plane, now I’m quite short and I certainly couldn’t stand up straight in it. Our one hour flight left from Broome heading north-east over Cape Leveque and the thousand island Buccaneer Archipelago. This gave us an opportunity to fly over the Horizontal Falls a few times before landing on Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island was abandoned many years ago and various other ventures have taken up residence such as the company we are touring with. There is an abandoned resort that Alan and Eileen Bond built in the 1980’s. All the houses built by Eileen and Alan Bond were painted pink. There is also an abandoned mine which was mining for iron ore. have been mining iron ore but recently the company went broke. The neighbouring island, Koolan is also used for mining iron ore, it really is a shame this has been allowed to happen here as it really has destroyed the landscape. However, the beauty is still there just not on these islands.
We were greeted by the lovely crew from Go Beyond Broome and then taken out to the boat which is a purpose built 750hp Air Rider. When you see how much force is built up with the rising tide that is forcing the water through the gap, you certainly appreciate having such a powerful boat. We undertook this tour during the spring tide and the tide height was 10.2m. When booking your tour, make sure you check whether you are going to be there on a neap tide or a spring tide. Your best opportunity is during a spring tide.
We sailed through Yampi Sound to Talbot Bay and then onto the Lalang-garram / Horizontal Falls Marine Park. We had the opportunity get off the boat when we pulled up to a sandy beach on one of the islands. Our luck was in when we also saw a humpback whale breach not far from our boat.
Our tour included morning and afternoon tea, drinks and lunch. At lunch time they drop the anchor near the falls so we can eat. Lunch was finished and we now have to put on our life jackets for the best part of the day. Going backwards and forwards through the falls was so exhilarating, a day we won’t forget in a hurry.
Our flight back to Broome flys over the Horizontal Falls allowing us to now see where we have been sailing all day and then back down the coast to Broome.
2 thoughts on “ElQuestro Station to Horizontal Falls”
Once again loved reading your Blog,
So pleased to hear you are enjoying reading it 😊