An inside Guide to a Waterfall Wonderland in The Kimberley Outback Australia.

Kimberley Outback Australia

Emma Gorge on El Questro Station has a waterfall that drops some 30 metres.

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 One -Why you should escape to the Kimberley in Outback Australia

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.

The Kimberley Outback Australia

Yoga along the trail, Emma Falls and Turqoise Pool

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!”

We laugh.

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 Kimberley Outback Australia

Winding our way to Emma Falls through verdant scenery. Greg explains how sharp some palm leaves can be and encourages us not to grab hold of them for support on water crossings.

Turqoise Pool

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.

The Kimberley Outback Australia

Water monitor, a pretty bug, and two scenes from the lovely Emma Gorge Resort

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 Kimberley Outback Australia

Walking to El Questro gorge has some challenging moments

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.

The Kimberley Outback Australia

Swimming in Emma Falls, hiking to El Questro Gorge and waterfall, and our 87th River crossing taken from the bus.

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.

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Comments

  1. Simone Kapiteyn says:

    Hi Jo, you really do make it come to life. Love the photos & the memories. Thank you again!!

  2. Glad it comes to life through these words and pics, Simone and thanks for popping by. It really is a magical place :)

  3. I can still remember the stunning walk to Emma Gorge, hearing the falls and then seeing them for the first time. It really is one of the most beautiful spots in the Kimberleys. Good on you for doing the El Questro walk!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..The Queen’s Theatre at VersaillesMy Profile

  4. Jo with your words and pictures you have taken me back to our trip to the Kimberley a few years ago. The gorges and waterfalls of the Kimberley are amazing. And the good thing is you can have a swim and cool off for your walk back!
    Life Images by Jill recently posted..Grapes are not just for wineMy Profile

  5. Thanks Jenny, and yes I have to agree Emma Gorge is one of the most impressive spots.

  6. I’m so glad that the post took you on a pleasant trip down memory lane, Jill. Yes, the swim and cool off is welcome for the hike back in the heat :)

  7. I look forward to exploring the Kimberley in the future. There is nothing nicer than swimming in a cool pool at the bottom of a waterfall, and especially beautiful after a hot walk. I always want to stay.
    jan recently posted..Budget Experience – Madrid’s Retiro ParkMy Profile

  8. that looks lovely- I wouldn’t mind spending a little time in that water!
    jade recently posted..Chicago Architecture ToursMy Profile

  9. It’s pristine and very cold – magical! Thanks, Jade :)

  10. I agree Jan, once you are swimming in those Kimberley pools you feel as if you just want to pitch tent and stay.

  11. Great photos, especially the first one :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..The Moss-Covered GodMy Profile

  12. Thanks, Muza-chan. It’s an easy area to photograph, that’s for sure :)

  13. This looks like a real winner of a trip. I would never have guessed Australia looking at your photos. I’d love to be following your footsteps on this one.
    Leigh recently posted..Hiking in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy Range, ColombiaMy Profile

  14. The waterfalls are beautiful! This sounds like an amazing adventure. A swim in the pools of water reminds me of Hawaii.
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Keeping An Eye To The Ground In FreiburgMy Profile

  15. So inviting. I love waterfalls and these are beautiful. I could take a dip now.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Reach Falls JamaicaMy Profile

  16. Glad you enjoyed, Debbie!

  17. Thanks Leigh, and yes it was a thrilling trip!

  18. What a beautiful place! I had no idea that there was rainforest and waterfalls like that in Australia – a complete contrast to the images that I have in my head of what the Outback looks like.
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..One Day in GenevaMy Profile

  19. I was also really surprised at how tropical the Kimberley is in places, Lisa.

  20. Such beautiful photos! I’d love to visit.
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot recently posted..Photo Friday: Byron Bay View from the LighthouseMy Profile

  21. Jo, these are great photos! I think El Questro is definitely on my hit list for the future.
    Pretraveller recently posted..NEW! 3 Breathtaking Bridge Climbs of the WorldMy Profile

  22. Thanks A, and great that you’re putting El Questro on your future list.

  23. Thanks Annabel, and one of these days I’m sure you will visit :)

  24. Moira Parry says:

    Lovely memories Jo, 2 of the girls I work with are heading of to enjoy the” Adventure Wild” experience this May after hearing about our trip and looking at your site, Thanks so much.

  25. Ohhh that’s great Moira! I’m so glad that I’ve inspired them too – makes it all worthwhile. And thank you too :)

  26. Hi Johanna, what an incredible adventure and sceneries. The waterfall and the turquoise pool look and sound otherworldly indeed. The trek to the gorge seemed so challenging but a lot of fun. What a wonderful experience that must be for you. I hope to get to that place someday.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..The Streets of Hanoi’s Old QuarterMy Profile

  27. Thanks, Marisol, and visiting the Kimberley/ is an amzaing exerience. So glad that maybe ZigaZag has tempted you to visit :)

  28. Cj Thapa says:

    Well, i’m impressed by color of rock which is totally orange. And the picture walking through gorge really looks challenging and difficult. But whenever i see falls and ponds, i think anacondas are there. Great effort of you :)
    Cj Thapa recently posted..Announcement: Trekking Package for 2013 Spring (March, April & May)My Profile

  29. Thankfully no anacondas, Cj!

  30. We spent eleven months in a Winnebago road tripping around Australia and northern WA was one of the few parts of the country we didn’t visit. Australia is such a vast place and there is so much to see. You need more than a year to explore. Unfortunately our visa expired and we had to hop foot it over to New Zealand. The Kimberly Outback is still on our bucket list. Perhaps we’ll nip over before we head east.
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..Long Term Travel: Losing A CagouleMy Profile

  31. Great to hear your story Charli, and yes,it’s impossible to see all of Australia in a short trip, a year would be ok but still I reckon you’d only scratch the surface. Hope you get over this side,as it is magic :)

  32. Great photos Jo. We were there in May this year and had a blast too!

  33. Thanks Chico! Yep, fab place :)

  34. Bernadette says:

    Hi Joanne, what fabulous photos. I am an Artist (hobbyist) and I have spotted some of the most beautiful photos of Emma Falls on your blog.
    I was wandering if I could have your permission to paint some of your gorgeous photos onto canvas?
    Of cause I would give you a preview of my works as I paint them. You can follow me on “Pinterest” to see some of my paintings.

  35. Hi Bernadette, Glad you like our photos of Emma Falls. Thank you for requesting permission to paint them on canvas. I’m going to email you today in that regard.

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