El Questro el magnifico

The Kimberley region of North Western Australia is one of the world’s last unspoilt frontiers.  It is remote, it is rugged, it is still in pristine condition, it is huge, it is very hot, and it is magnificent.  Perhaps I’ve used too many superlatives, but when you go there and see it for yourself, you realise that there just isn’t enough superlatives in the thesaurus to do the land justice.

And yet, out there in the middle of nowhere, about as far out back as you can go, just a short way along the rugged, and often impassable, Gibb River Road on the Kununurra side is a resort that is contemporary, luxurious and which can offer you an unsurpassed outback experience.

The El Questro Wilderness Park has been attracting visitors for quite some time now.  Whilst the Homestead is five star, and exclusive, you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy El Questro.

At the Station Township (in Australia the huge properties, which can be spread over thousands of square kilometres are called stations, not ranches), you can rent a bungalow that is capable of sleeping 4 or 6 people.  There is the Black Cockatoo Campsite where you can pitch your ten, or, for no extra charge, you can enjoy a private campsite and have the wilderness all to yourself.

There’s also the Emma Gorge Resort at which there are 60 tented cabins, each with its own ensuite.

In order to use El Questro you need to purchase a Wilderness Park Permit, and the proceeds from the sale of the Permit go towards maintaining El Questro.  In fact, you’d be surprised just how much maintenance a Wilderness Park requires.  For instance, after each wet season, when the roads do become impassable, they have to be rebuilt, as does each walking track, which get cluttered with the debris from floods.  The Kimberleys has just two seasons wet and dry.  During the wet season, from about November to April, it is very hot, very humid and very, very wet.  In the dry season it is hot, but comfortably so without the humidity, and dry – allowing you to enjoy the waterholes, rivers and creeks that filled during the wet season.  

El Questro is still a working cattle station, but its potential as a tourist attraction was recognised in 1991, and since then many improvements have been made such as constructing new buildings, improving access and constructing walking trails.

One of the best ways to see El Questro Wilderness Park is by scenic flight, whether in a fixed wing aircraft, or by helicopter.  From the air you can truly enjoy its vast beauty.  Helicopter flights are more expensive, but the as they can get into some narrow gorges, and fly you closer to the ground, you do get a better experience.

You can fly into El Questro, but most people drive in.  To do that you first have to get to the Gibb River Road during the dry season, and that is no mean feat in itself, as it’s only about 4,400 kilometres from Perth, Western Australia’s Capital.

Of course, that remoteness is part of its appeal, it’s what makes El Questro Wilderness Park so breathtakingly special.

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