As far as remote holiday destinations go, El Questro Wilderness Park would sit comfortably near the top of the list. The one-million acre property offers spectacular scenery, seclusion and the promise of a true Australian adventure. El Questro is unlike any place I have ever been before. Even looking back at pictures now, it’s hard to believe the colours of a place could be so vivid. Each happy snap resembles a fine art painting.
El Questro Wilderness Park
How to Get to El Questro
El Questro is a real oasis set among the powerful landscape of the Kimberley region in the far north of Western Australia. The park itself is located about 110 kilometres west of Kununurra. That’s where you’ll likely touch down (via Darwin) and jump in 4WD for the rest of the trip. Travelling down the red roads, the beauty of the scenery will hook you on the drive alone.
El Questro Station Camping and Emma Gorge
El Questro offers 4 different types of accommodation that are spread throughout the property. Your choice will depend on your budget and the style of holiday you’re hoping for.
If you want to try a true Australian outback experience you can camp with the family at Riverside Camping. There are bungalows with air-conditioning (it’s a hot place so keep that in mind) at El Questro Station but we stayed at Emma Gorge Resort which is more of a glamping option in a quiet setting. The rooms are individual tented-style cabins, sitting in bushland. You really feel like you’re sleeping in outdoors, with a few added comforts like a bed, bathroom and lockable door (particularly handy for those travelling alone).
The cabins are about five minutes walk from the common area at Emma Gorge Resort. There is an alfresco restaurant and bar, a store where you can buy snacks, sunscreen or insect repellant if you forget to pack it. There’s also a pool in the common garden area but an absolute must is a short hike up to Emma Gorge. The walk itself takes about 20 minutes, depending on how fit you are. It really is a bush track though so go during the day and ensure you’re wearing comfortable walking shoes. Don’t forget to take your swimmers too – after you walk the track you’ll be rewarded with crystal-clear water and a stunning waterfall. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have it all to yourself.
El Questro Homestead
For those looking for luxury digs (honeymooners hunting for a destination with a difference), The Homestead is the spot for you. The five-star accommodation sits on the cliffs with undisturbed views of the Chamberlain Gorge and beyond.
There are only a handful of suites in what is really a big family home but each is quite private. There’s a pool and tennis court and you can even take a spa on your patio, relax and enjoy the panoramic view. The Homestead isn’t cheap but the price includes gourmet meals, full service and access to the wine cellar stocked with some of Margaret River’s best. The Homestead is open from April to October.
Things to do at El Questro Wilderness Park
The touring at El Questro is really adventure-driven. You need to jump in the 4WD to get to each spot, so make sure you’ve got a GPS and a good map (signs are not in abundance here). That’s all part of the adventure though.
I highly recommend having a go in a self-guided boat on the Pentecost River. The river winds through the Chamberlain Gorge. You’re not going to win any races in the boats, but it’s a fun, leisurely way to take in the view, including the stunning red rock faces. You may also spot a saltwater crocodile in these parts so be warned, this isn’t a spot for swimming – leave that for the safety of the pool.
If you want to stay off the water, you can jump on a horse, go hiking or fishing instead. Given you really are in the outback, make sure you chat to the local rangers if you have any concerns about heading off on your own, pack plenty of water and some snacks and tell your accommodation what you have planned, just in case you run into any trouble.
For those on a generous budget, there is also the option of seeing the property from a whole different perspective. A chartered helicopter ride will whip you up from The Station and carry you across over the Homestead, over the Chamberlain Gorge and beyond, to places you can’t get to by 4WD. It’s up in the air that you get an even greater sense of the vastness and isolation of El Questro.
Dining at El Questro
It makes sense that given there are different options for accommodation, the food varies too. If you’re camping you’ll need to pick up supplies and bring them in from Kununurra. You can buy food around the park but you’ll pay a bit more because they’ve brought it in themselves.
There is a steakhouse restaurant and The Swinging Arm Bar at The Station, so that’s a good option for those who want a bit of a party vibe. The pub puts on a BBQ on Saturday night (the restaurant isn’t open there). Expect some colourful characters and live music.
The restaurant at Emma Gorge Resort caters to all, with a modern Australian-style menu and options for the kids. Fresh, local fish was my pick. They’ll pack you a picnic too if you want to eat during your day out.
As you would expect The Homestead uses fresh, local and largely organic produce sourced from growers from the nearby Ord River Valley, in a very intently thought-out menu. You can even enjoy your 5-star meal under the stars on the cliff’s edge.
As someone who is slightly obsessed with sunsets, El Questro Wilderness Park was paradise. A quiet drink while the sun goes down is the perfect way to finish a day of exploring here and the colours are simply electric.
So if you’re looking for something a little different for your next getaway, consider taking a trip down the red dusty roads of the Kimberley.
El Questro Wilderness Park
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller.
She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health.
As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her appetite for adventure.
Read more about Skye’s story here.