Day 6 – Waterfall Wonderland
Join us on Day 6 of an exciting 12 Day trip to the Kimberley Outback Australia, in North West Australia. Today we hike to a 30 metre waterfall, swim in two remote gorges, encounter tropical vegetation in an arid climate, and eat home made Damper bread with wild hibiscus jam around a blazing camp fire.
If you would like to read more about the Kimberley trip with Adventure Wild here are the links so far.
Day Two – Three Awesome Gorges in the Kimberley
Day Three – Wild Hibiscus and Bobtails
Day Four – 13 Reasons to visit Outback Australia
Day Five – Bubbles and Baramundi
The remainder of the 12 day trip, along with the first 5 days, what to pack, helpful tips about travelling to the Kimberley, and places to see will be available as a Free eBook to ZigaZag subscribers. Please subscribe below in order to receive your copy.
Morning has broken
I begin to ease myself out of my swag as Dave opens the tent flap and says:
“Good Morning El Questro!” as if he’s in a movie, and I’m reminded of “Good Morning Vietnam” with Robin Williams in the lead part. But before I can think about too much or take a long languid stretch, Dave’s giving me my marching orders.
“Quick! Up! Out! Yoga has begun.”
I stumble across the grass in my pyjamas, rubbing sleepy dust from my eyes, to where our yoga master is encouraging the class into warm up poses. We stretch and groan and laugh our way through 30 minutes of contortions (that we all enjoy) before enjoying a filling breakfast of toast, fruit and muesli.
Then we ready ourselves, pack our day bags and head off en masse in the bus to Emma Gorge, which is still on the El Questro property about 45 kms away.
On the way to Emma Gorge we notice that the yellow capok is in flower and I’m reminded how tuned-into small flashes of colour I’ve become during this journey. The gravel road soon changes to bitumen, and we are on a reasonably good stretch of road that has no doubt been upgraded over the years to cater for the increase in tourist vehicles.
“There’s a gap in the range we can see ahead, over there, see?” says Greg. “That’s Emma Gorge. You’re all going to love it.”
The sun is shining right into our eyes, there’s a lonely airstrip on our left, but sure ahead there ahead is the gap in the range we are heading for.
The gorgeous Emma Gorge
Emma gorge is on the south-eastern aspect of the Cockburn Range and it’s fed from the high plateau above with pure, freshwater. We’re all looking forward to setting eyes upon it and swimming in it, on this hot morning.
The walk to the gorge is just under 4 kms return and it’s rocky but it’s not too difficult. There are a couple of water crossings where the stones are a little slippery but although it’s a bit of a workout and we do work up a sweat it’s well worth the effort and most people of a reasonable level of fitness will be able to do it.
Greg tells us about trees along the way and other tidbits of information about the area; the bark of one tree for instance is used a cough, cold and flu medicine for Indigenous people.
“You grind it up and add it to water, then drink it – it tastes disgusting!” he told us before adding, “I tried it … and actually I did get better – although maybe I got better because it was so disgusting and I didn’t want to drink anymore of it!”
As ever, Greg’s information is frequently wise, but often funny.
The walk continues through stunning scenery and we wind our way through palms and grass vistas, rocks and steep escarpments where we come across small pools and mini waterfalls. It’s remote and very pretty.
The first pool we come too evokes an “Aaah” response because it’s called Turqoise Pool, which as the name suggests is really very turquoise. We spot a water monitor, a large lizard sunning himself on a rock below before we climb the hill towards the thundering water just audible now in the distance.
Approaching Emma falls is like entering another world. First you hear the thunder of water, then you see a vast amphitheatre with an enormous drop of water surrounded by roots that look like forgotten climbing ropes which now just dangle down from the russet red rock face that’s studded with masses of jade green ferns and aquatic plants– rather like you might imagine the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
This is a waterfall wonderland and I pinch myself that I really am in the dry Kimberley Outback Australia
The waterfall is 30 metres high and the surrounding rock face is covered with intriguing ripple patterns, which are actually ancient formations that give geologists clues into how the rock formed 1.8 billion years ago.
If the scenery doesn’t take your breath away, the water will. It is bracing. It’s also fresh, clear, rejuvenating and the water falling from its dizzy height above crashes down and slices the water pool below like shards of glass.
Lying on my back close to the thundering waterfall and looking up through the stream of silver aqua into the blue blue sky above the massive gorge feels like being in another world.
Greg show us a hot pool in the shape of a bath tub that’s fashioned between two rocks high up on the cliff face. Some of us scramble up the cliffs for the experience of lying in a hot bath, and then we see a spotted monitor lizard down below in the water, and then Choccy hands out chocolate Tim Tams. Heaven. It’s all happening at once!
Food glorious food
All too soon we change back into our shorts and head back to Emma Gorge Resort. We have morning tea and jam tarts under the shade of some small trees at a picnic spot and also have a squizz at the lovely swimming pool, the restaurant and the tented huts which cost about $240 per night.
It’s back to the camp for lunch – and we see that more travelers have pitched up, and I have an inward giggle when I see one person who resembles Crocodile Dundee. El Questro is a welcome relief for anyone on the Gibb River Road, and I can imagine someone like Crocodile Dundee hanging out here on the banks of the river.
Choccy has prepared yet another gastronomic invention. Fresh stocks are a little low by this stage but she is undaunted and although tinned food is coming to the fore, it’s not boring by any stretch of the imagination. We have, as our salad component, tins of four beans mixed with capers, capsicum and tinned sweetcorn – it’s a delicious mix. Additionally there are cold meats, cheese, wraps, salad, rice cakes, tuna, tinned beetroot and more. You’ll never go hungry on an Adventure Wild trip that’s for sure.
Later in the afternoon, seven people opt for the El Questro Gorge walk while the remainder decide to relax back at the camp, reading, swimming in the rock pool, and catching up on washing and camp chores.
The walk to El Questro Gorge
Four people complete the full walk – which is about 6.8kms, over rugged terrain, while three of us walk half way and stop to contemplate the universe at a clear pool which is called the Half Way Point. Here there’s a cool rock pool, and a small waterfall, plus of course a gorgeous russet gorge to look back on. The area is filled with palms and lush flora, set against the ever brick, red, gorge walls and it’s a pleasant spot to just ‘be’.
The walk to this point has been cool and shady through rainforest, the sun only slanting into the gorge on occasion. It’s damp, silent except for the trickle of water, or sometimes the gush of water – there’s lots of water in this lonely and deep, very narrow gorge which we continually have to criss-cross to avoid sinking to our knees.
The intrepid four will encounter a tougher hike to get to the extreme top of the gorge, and they return with tales of climbing along the edge of a waterfall and hoisting each other over large rocks and boulders.
Water Crossings abound during the early season
On the way back from El Questro gorge we stop to collect firewood for the evening camp fire before returning through a long and fairly deep water crossing that comes up to the step of the bus.
I think this is our 87th water crossing of the trip.
After a few glasses of wine, stories begin to flow. Dinner is a sweet and sour pork dish followed by Greg’s fresh cooked damper bread with freshly made wild hibiscus jam. We sit into the night playing a word association game which has everyone in stitches.
For the first time the night is cold. Some of us are pulling sleeping bags tight around us and putting on socks and sweatshirts over our pyjamas as we head for our tents.
I thought I heard a dingo howling as I clambered into my swag, but I fall asleep instead to the trickling sound of the Pentecost River.
What stories, memories or advice do you have about Outback Australia?
I’m linking this story with Travel Photo Thursday where you’ll find more awesome travel tales, and if you’d like to read two excellent novels about The Kimberley why not read “As The River Runs” and “Other Country” by Stephen Scourfield? Stephen, Travel Editor of The West Australian Newspaper’s travel section, has made over 100 trips to the area and knows this remote and intriguing region like the back of his hand.