My First River Crossing

Mon. 17th June 2019

Water crossings, easy!Why didn’t we wake earlier? It was already unbearably hot and it was only 8am as we packed our tent away. On the plus side, our washing dried overnight on the line. With our bonus day in El Questro we asked the bored receptionist what we should do and see. After a few perfunctory answers she said the easiest lookout to get to was Pigeon Hole Lookout. So off we set past the packed public camping and on past the turnoff to the private camping, which are apparently amazingly secluded by the riverbank.

Pigeon Hole lookoutAs we turned off the main track, our route got narrower, windier and steeper as it climbed up to the top. It was definitely a 4×4 track through water and a steep incline so Dave now feels he has had a proper off road experience. The surprise was at the top where the vista just opened out over the river gorge with amazing views. I just sat to take it all in. There are many other places to see in El Questro, but we have to prioritise as we want to see Emma Gorge which is a two to three hour walk with little shade and is best walked early. Bit late for that then.

Just loving the sceneryThe 16km rough track out from El Questro Station to the tarmac road is tedious as we were stuck behind a slow vehicle with no way of overtaking. With the dust cloud he created we just had to hang back and match his speed. It was 11:15 by the time we reached Emma Gorge and so set out in the heat of the day. It is a Class 4 walk so clambering over rocks and crossing the river on stepping stones is required. Being dry season, the river level is low and the path is partly along the stony riverbed. Under foot is much rougher than the walk on “Being sensible” day, that was nothing compared to this. We are glad we have sensible walking shoes on but as always we spot the mad Aussie in thongs (flip flops to you and me).

Five minutes peaceWe rested in the shade at the first pool and enjoyed the little peaceful haven. Walkers coming towards us had told us walking in the heat was worth it but make sure you do get to the end pool as that is the best view. Rest over, we scrambled up the valley side and continued making our way to the far end. The route, like most trails are clearly marked with blue reflective triangles so if you walk for too long without seeing one best to check that you are still on track as we did make a few detours on the way.

Hurry up, the water is coldThe path is only 1.5km long and took just under the hour to get to end, but boy was it worth it. A lovely shady pool at the bottom of a sheer rock face with an almost dry waterfall descending the height of it. We had been told that it was safe to swim so it was not long before we were tentatively entering the cool water. We were so hot from the walk in the heat that it was very welcome. If you need some warm water there is a thermal spring in the right corner. Dave managed to swim under the waterfall but my back is not happy with all these rough roads and so it hurt to swim far. We headed back in wet swimmies and this kept us cool as the sun beat down. We were also lucky in that there were a few clouds around for the sun to be hidden behind giving us some respite from the heat.

Pentecost River crossing is dryI felt it was my turn to drive so leapt in the driver’s seat forgetting we had driven through two river crossings on the way to Emma Gorge. So stop, engage four wheel drive and off you go keeping it steady. Easy and quite tame really as the water only came half way up the wheels but still outside my comfort zone! I then had 32km of unsealed road to drive, which I am getting more confident at. However when we got to the Pentecost River Crossing I decide it was time for Dave to finish the drive. Not because the river crossing was as scary as some of the videos we had seen but just that concentrating on these roads is tiring as you cannot relax for a second watching for bumps and ruts. So the river crossing we had worried about – it was bone dry!! Worthy of a few photos and the birds found enough water to feed in.

Heron enjoying the little remaining waterOn booking this part of the tour we had selected Home Valley Station over El Questro as it had better reviews and cheaper rooms. On that basis we had splashed out and booked a Grass Castle room with creek view. The room was huge and the front terrace had chairs overlooking the creek, a great place to sit once the sun was going down. It even had a fan and air conditioning, luxury. There was a swimming pool for exclusive use of room residents, much quieter than the general pool full of screaming kids we passed on the way in.

Meteorite Range just after sunsetIn view of the location we felt we just had to find a good spot for sunset and on checking out the booklet of walks we selected Cockburn Lookout Trail which also included Meteorite Valley Lookout, one of those must work for us surely. off we headed on what we thought was the right route to the start of the walk. Nope, missed it. Our excuse is that the booklet was unclear on the directions and not consistent so we headed out through the gate instead of turning before the gate wasting about 20 minutes and so missed sunset.

View from our terraceThe Meteorite valley looks interesting and it may be worth a longer linger if we had the chance. If this walk is anything to go by we are in for a good day tomorrow walking the trails. On returning to the station, we then found that we had also just missed the full moon rising over the Cockburn range. Aaarrgghh! Dismayed, we headed back to our room and I think the best view was from our terrace!

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