Although we were not going to join the others on their action packed walk to the Gorge, we duly got up at 4.30 and had breakfast as the sun rose just after 5.00. Birds flew over head, corollas screeching as they passed over. We decided that for our morning constitutional we would walk back to the road station, where the rest of the troops would be stopping on their way out of the National Park.
We set off at 6.00. The blue sky was cloudless and the day already warm. We set off along the dusty track..it was a lovely day to be out. The occasional car passed us and enveloped us in dust, but for the most part we had Australia to ourselves, with just the birds for company. It was about 7 Km’s to the road house.
Early on we saw some rather desultory cattle, whose big heads followed us as we came into view, drew level with them and passed by. I fear we were likely to be the most interesting thing to happen to them that day! Seeing them did at least resolved the mystery of the hoof marks we saw in the sand, which until their sighting had posed something of a mystery! We saw lots of birds, mostly unknown to us, but often of riotous colours. Another highlight was when a wallaby bounced across the road in front of us and, without missing a beat, bounced over a fence that had appeared unnoticed by us on our left hand side. Magic! It was a beautiful leisurely walk.
We eventually saw roofs on the horizon and soon the detritus of the road house back yard came into view. A couple of dogs appeared in the distance. A line up of old cars in various stages of dilapidation.
A rusting cattle crusher. We passed them all before emerging at the business end of the establishment. A couple of petrol pumps and a shaded veranda with a few plastic seats and tables in front of the all purpose shop.
There were lots of notices – some giving details of events that had already long since taken place, others advertised jobs. We arrived at 8.00, opening time, and settled down to await the truck. It was interesting to watch the customers. All appeared from nowhere – young chaps in four wheel drives, families on holiday (towing their homes, snail like, being them). An older gnarled gentleman with faded head gear and aged denim and a face as lined as a walnut, an aboriginal mother and daughter escorted by three dogs all very closely related.
Once the truck arrived and the usual purchases made and bags of ice were added to the watery wastes of the ‘eskies’, we were off. After several hours on the road we turned off into what looked like a stony field, but there under the rocks were amazing aboriginal paintings.
It was an aboriginal graveyard area. Whenever we come across these sights there always seems to be an air of silent dignity. Whether it is the place itself or just the knowledge of its historic use, I don’t know. There is a definite ‘aura’.
The next stop was a real aberration. It was the Ellen Brae Cattle Station.
Not only was it a green oasis in a straw coloured landscape, but it served hot scones with jam and cream!!! Quite extraordinary but very welcome! We put our orders in, had our truck lunch and then were show. To a long trestle table where the real thing was served. Scones still warm from the oven!
The young family who took over the station some years ago are quite remarkable. Husband, wife, small son and helpers run what is ostensibly a cattle station. Having found that they could not make it pay many acres and thousands of heads of cattle – they have found they can make money from scones and currently are making about thousands of scones a year! What enterprise!! Add to this the fact that they are effectively ‘locked in’ for at least 6 weeks of the year, often more, when the heavy rains come, making the roads impassable they are certainly an amazing family.
It was difficult to imagine the quiet waterways we were passing developing into such raging torrents.
Incidentally, as we were leaving, I noticed a memorial to the two brothers who lived at the station in the 1990’s – one died in a ‘plane he was piloting and the other died when his motorbike had a fatal accident. The brothers Terry who it said ‘died doing what they liked best’. Who could ask for anything more?
Our long drive was rewarded by a first sighting of the Coburn Ranges. I think one of the best best views of the trip and what I expected the Kimberley to look like.
We looked out from a high viewpoint over a vast savannah with the mountain range as it’s back drop. It was magnificent and awesome in the true sense of the word…….
Our sighting over and our awe duly quenched we drove on to our accommodation for the next two nights. The El Questro resort. Don’t let’s get carried away here – there was very exotic accommodation to be had here, but we were still in our swags. I would not have had it any other way – I don’t think 😳
Originally a cattle station, El Questro (no Spanish connection just a misinterpretation of a local word) was turned over to tourism in 1991 and is thought to showcase one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Crossing the Pentecost River, we found ourselves entering a well ordered establishment. We passed a helicopter pad on our right and approached a bar and reception area – a far cry to our recent haunts! Beyond this were chalets, caravan sights tents – and then our patch – a square patch of grass by the river.
We unloaded our luggage and swags (please note the neat rolling) and supper was soon on the go.
The showers were good and we had the opportunity to use the washing machine facilities and the clothes line – no pegs of course!