Thursday, 9 August 2012

El Questro

A lazy pack up, a tyre rotation at a local workshop (best $30 I've spent) and a stock up of supplies and we were on our way. Finally we have arrived at the Gibb River Road, for us the catalyst of this trip, 600+ km's of dirt road, numerous water holes, breathtaking scenery, bush camps, fishing and camp fires. Unfortunately for us our first mishap was not 50 meters past the road conditions sign. Whilst airing down, one of the pins came clean out of the center of the tyre valve meaning that I couldn't stop the air esacping at a rate of knots when I attempted to remove the tyre deflator. We decided to jack the car up to protect the tyre and rim and then possibly put the spare on to drive back to Kununarra to have it repaired. I recalled that the tyre plug kit I purchased had some other accessories in there that I though I'd never use, upon checking we found a few parts that may resemble the missing piece and a tool to install them...success, valve fixed, tyre pumped up, car dropped, van back on and away in fifteen minutes we were on our way....however it took 45mins to arrive at that last 15 mins.

The road was obviously corrugated yet it was comfortable traveling at around 60kph which was an acceptable speed on the dirt with vans in tow. The first river crossing was fairly small yet being Pete's first time and not being aware of the walking pace rules he decided to take the aqua plane approach instead as seen in Jeep commercials. Upon entering the station we had to cross the Pentecost river with the vans which was pretty cool, and at a much more comfortable pace for Pete.

We opted for a private campsite down the river away from the homestead which had a long drop yet a drive for showers. The camp itself was right next to the river and quite secluded. Being off power we cooked all of our meals on the camp fire with the grill or camp ovens, which was great fun. Our three dinners were satay lamb shanks and rice, curried snags and potatoes and steak and potatoes.

After noticing a school of mullet swimming around upstream I decided it was time to try out the cast net I had purchased a few days earlier. It had been giving me the eye for the past few days "c'mon try me, you know you want to, but you also know that I will beat you, like many before you, hahaha". So I found a spot of grass upstream near the mullet and started the process. The first few casts saw the net land in a heap and I thought that maybe I would be able to knock out a few of the mullet with it rather than trap them. After a bit of thought and attempting to mimick what the guide had done in the Ord a few casts started to open up a bit. After 20 mins the net was not landing in a perfect circle, it was landing in an inconsistent irregular shape of no name that did however cover an acceptable amount of surface area. Time to try my luck in the drink. I managed to successfully spook the mullet with a few haphazard casts and started to throw at some spangles instead. The school came past again and as luck would have it I flicked out a ripper cast which snagged almost a dozen 5 to 8 inch mullet, time to fish. Only had about 30mins till dark so I popped one of the livies out at camp, within five minutes I was hooked onto a size barra, unfortunately it spat the hook at the surface, have to buy bigger hooks tomorrow....I had no idea I would be using 8inch bait. Popped a fresh bait back out but got nothing before dark, I had to quit as I don't like the idea of trudging around a croc river under torch light.

To put a dampener on Zoe's day she unfortunately has been ill with action at both ends and has had to hang around camp whilst the others have been off swimming etc.

Pete and I hired a boat the next morning and toured around Chamberlin Gorge.

We met up with the others as Zebedeen Thermal Springs which was amazing, cascading waters into pools, no camera was taken though. We left there at midday as it is only open 7 till 12 to reduce the amount of "human pressure", yet all it does is cram the same amount of people into a smaller window to allow for the private tour groups that get taken in there after a price. This El Questro station makes a considerable sum of money off the tourist. Then we ventured onto El Questro gorge which was an interesting drive in on rock, sand and water.

The gorge itself was an amazing walk with Zoe leading the way on the way with a lot of rock hopping, the reward was a swim at the end. It was good to see that she was on the improve, yet we would find out in days to come that this was not quite the case.


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