Home Valley Station

Tuesday morning five weeks ago I drove out to the Chamberlain gorge. For that I needed to ford the Chamberlain river. The river itself had just a bit of water, but the large stones severely shaked my car, even as I tried just with the L2 gear and be pretty slow. I even hit the rocks twice with something underneath. Afterwards the road was OK until Explosion gorge, the remaining track to Sandwich gorge was again a bit rocky. The Chamberlain Valley starts here and goes for more than 100 km straight into southerly direction. The rocky walls raising up left and right for more than 100 metres above the river bed. Everything is dry, except in the vicinity of the river, where there is still some water flowing, even at the end of the dry season. After that I went straight to Brancos Lookout. It’s another popular sunset spot at the El Questro station. Hence, during the morning, nobody else was there. From the top you can see the El Questro homestead, and the mouth of the Chamberlain River into the Pentecost river. After the lockout I needed to do again the rocky crossing of the Chamberlain river, and now I definitely understood what a man the evening before told me, about how that crossing shaked his boys across the car.

The Zebeedee falls closing at noon. Hence, I was a bit in a hurry to see them. And once I was there, I was a bit disappointed. They’re pretty small (sure it’s always a matter of perspective). Nevertheless, I took a quick bath in the warm water. The Livingston palms just near the falls, only grow in that small area. And it’s pretty surprising, that you suddenly stumble into that small forest. In the afternoon I went to the El Questro Gorge. In order to get there, I had to do a deep water crossing. But as I had a snorkel, and there were plenty of people around, I needed to test my car. Just use the L2 gear and let it drive with low speed, in order not to damage the fan of the radiator. The deepest point was probably 0.8-0.9m and it made some strange noise, when the front dipped into the water. In the end everything went good. The walk through the narrow El Questro Gorge provided shade during the hot afternoon. In the middle of the gorge there is a boulder, but to get there you’ll get wet feet, and I wasn’t in the mood to go further, as I needed to go back anyway the same way. Hence, I decided to turn around just in the middle of the way. Afterwards I drove out of the El Questro station and back to the Gibb River Road. I did the “famous” Pentecost river crossing, but at this time of the year, the river was already dried out, and this crossing wasn’t a challenge at all, compared to the one in the morning. I just drove a few kilometres behind the Home Valley Station to a nice lookout for the night.

Driving into the Chamberlain Gorge
Beside the Chamberlain River, a lot of green plants are growing…left and right, there high walls raising up
That’s just the start of the final section of the gorge from Explosion hole, the name comes from the former fishing technique 😉
From Broncos lookout, you’ll see the El Questro homestead, the Pentecost river and at the other side the Pigeon lookout, where I’ve been the evening before (the rocky Chamberlain river crossing is just a few hundred metres before the homestead)
The endemic Livingst palms only grow near the Zebeedee falls
There’re a lot of ferns and other green plants in the narrow and shady El Questro Gorge
A Boab tree infront of the escarpments of the Cockburn range
The Pentecost river crossing wasn’t that hard compared to the Chamberlain River Crossing earlier that day
View to the mouth of the Durack and Pentecost river near Home Valley Station during dusk…the view is a bit hazy also at this day

El Questro

Monday morning three weeks ago after filling up my fuel tank completely and having a nice last coffee in the local bakery I went off from Wyndham in Western direction. After a few kilometres I passed the dammed lake for the water supply of Wyndham and some nearby rock art work. I’ve to admit, that the rocks itself were more impressive for me. On my way to the Diggers Rest Station I passed an old Boab prison tree. I guess the hollow tree was used in former times to imprison people. Later on I need to discover that the Diggers Rest Station already closed down for wet season…I was just one day too late. As it was just noon I continued my drive along the Old Karunji road. This is an unmaintained and loosely marked track. The beginning was already a bit rocky, the middle part easy, as it followed a dried out slat lake, but then suddenly it become pretty rough and rocky in the last 10km. I ended up in two dead ends, the first was just behind a curve in high grass, so I needed to drive back for a few hundred metres to find the right tun off. But the second I directly followed the deep tracks through the soft sand, down a ridge to the Pentecost river, just to realise that this is going to nowhere, as there’s a creek bed from the left. So I lowered my tyre pressure further, and headed up again the ridge. Got stuck, but instead of spinning my wheels, I headed back and with additional momentum I got to the ridge. Then following the deep sand in the middle track, just to check what my car can do. I had a shovel and my expensive sand boards with me. The afternoon sun was shinning without any mercy onto my front screen, so I’m ending up in a greenhouse like car. Sandy dust all over, opening a window might not be an option, but in the end I only shortly stucked. Again reversing a bit, and with momentum, and a bit of slightly spinning wheels I made my way out of this bogggy sand, just to find the turn off. I stopped and put back three large stones back on the road, as I realised they layed there artificially. After three hours and about 50 km I finally hit the Gibb River Road (first I thought the name is related to the Gibbs fundamental equation, but it turned out that this wasn’t the case😉). The Old Karunji Road was probably the hardest track I drove so far. The 25km along the southern escarpments of the corrugated GRR were just a pleasant drive, compared to the experience I gained before. After checking into El Questro (as this is a private property and actual still a running cattle farm, you’ve to pay entrance fee. And if you wish to stay overnight, as I did, because I deserved a shower at this day, you’ll need to pay for a weekly pass, even if you arrive just 2 hours before sunset) I went for a pleasant drive to the Chamberlain Gorge. You’ve to take a boat tour, if you want to discover this 3km long gorge. But even the view into it was pretty nice. For sunset I went up to the Pigeon Lookout, one of three lookouts at the premises. It’s on a ridge where the Pentecost river made a U-turn around it. In the background to the north you’ll see the Cockburn ranges, whereas to the south you could spot the actual beginning of the real Chamberlain Gorge or valley, which stretches for about 100 km straight to the south. It’s one of the longest valleys of Australia. For the sunset I went to the Pigeon Lookout where the Pentecost River makes a 180° turn around the rock.

A statue of Aboriginal people from the Dreamtime in Wyndham
The rocks were actually more fascinating than the art work itself
Boab prison tree
The first mountains of the Cockburn range
The section along the dried out wetlands was the most pleasant at all
Cattle getting water at a dammed creek
Opening and closing numerous gates was also a task for this afternoon
The last section followed the nice western escarpment of the Cockburn range
The large birds got some water at a billabong
Finally reached the Gibb River Road after about 3 hours
Chamberlain Gorge during late afternoon
Pentecost river with Cockburn ranges in the background…
…seen also the Chamberlain Gorge from the Pigeon Lookout…
…and even spotted the Chamberlain Valley in the distance.