Glamping at Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge

Sleeping under canvas is a great experience especially when it’s glamping and everything is set up.

Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge is an hour off the GRR. Lots of creeks to cross as we bump along. Chris prefers to drive as it helps his back to be holding onto the string wheel. At least that’s what he tells us!

Steve sits as co driver and sometimes in the afternoon sleeps on the job.

Breakfast was in the screened dinner area. Very rustic. Cereals and toast. No big fry up!

The chef had prepared a picnic lunch for us to take to Bells Gorge.

Back along the bumpy one hour drive turn back toward Mt Leopold Range. Half an hour later we turn left and head towards Bells Gorge. We pass Silent Grove and keep going.

The car park at Bells is full of dusty 4 wheel drives, vans, small tour buses. One caught our attention yesterday Manning River. It’s a big duel cab full of gear, a motorbike , a generator, various bits of equipment & it’s decorated with finger drawings in the dust. Very carefully done. Today the van is missing. Must be in the caravan park.

We start the track and it didn’t take long to get rocky. We’ve talked to other travelers about Bells. It sounds wonderful but it is described as tricky to get into.

We walked for about 2km into the gorge over rocks with about three water crossings. Little stepping stones across small creeks. We arrive at a series of ponds all swirling towards a ledge which becomes the waterfall. Stunning.

We walk across the sloping rock shelf up the side towards the top to look down on the water fall.

Decision time. Continue on over the pond up a steep set of rocks then over the top and down down down to the sloping rocks leading to the water.

I decided I would risk a slip and damage my arm – recovering from a bad break last Dec. I couldn’t go back to an arm in a sling.

So the others pressed on and I got into the pool closest to the edge if the waterfall. Careful not to go over the edge!

They took it slowly and arrived safely and we waved and took photos and I watched as they swam in the big pool of water towards the waterfall.

Steve, Jill & Chris in the lower pool

I know they were having fun. But so was I, pottering in the pools and watching people crossing over, slipping, helping each other and those returning from the bottom of the falls.

A satisfying afternoon. The others arrived back full of smiles and we walked back through the rocks to the top.

We sat under the trees eating our picnic lunch before heading back to the lodge two hours away.

Washing on, showers, bed rest and finally the bar opened. We were very dry and ready for a game of cards before dinner.

The gong called us and tonight the dinner was chicken and sticky date pudding. Beautifully presented and so tasty. We met the chef. He used to cook for miners but has been here at Mt Hart for seven years. It’s a feature for this place. I hope he stays on.

Yum. Steve’s sticky date pudding.

Our canvas tent called and we headed to bed. It’s slightly cooler tonight so sleeping will be easy.

And it was!

A Long and Dusty Road: the Gibb River

The morning was still and quiet. The horse riders had left for their jog through the countryside as we were having tea and planning our day.

Today we continue along the road everyone talks about. We’ve heard about the corrugations, the dust, the river crossing.

I think the our drivers Leyland Brothers are excited to get going

We leave and immediately get stuck behind a bus. Oh no more dust. But at the end of the 16 km into El Questro he turned right towards Kunanurra and we turned left towards Derby.

Todays drive us about 5 hours. Not that the distance is great. It’s the dusty bumpy road!

We planned a stop at Ellenbrae Station. The people here have cleverly put on a Devonshire Tea. Yes …….scones, jam and cream on the Gibb River Rd.

The turn off to their property is 5km. Yes 5km of anticipation along a very rough rough road. But then. There it is.

A green oasis is surrounded by red dusty grassy scrub.

The sign welcomes us and we make our way to the shed / cafe open to the lush green gardens scattered with tables and chairs under the trees.

There is plenty to look at as we wait for our Devonshire tea.

We’d love our grandsons here with us on this trip. So many things to do. Crocodile huntings, swimming in gorges, fishing, sandpits, rocks, machinery! Boy heaven.

We bumped along the GRR for another hour or two. Dust, mud holes, river crossings.

The Pentecost River was rocky and the tide was down. The Durack River was small and rocky.

The road into our overnight stay at Mt Elizabeth was both surprising and fun.

Our ensuite cabin was actually old miners donga’s now fitted with air con! Small and stuffy when we entered the aircon went in so we headed to the lush garden to enjoy the last of the afternoon We stayed there while drama unfolded. Jill wanted wifi internet. Not possible unless you pay. That still didn’t work so as Jill claimed she had something she needed to do had been so nice to the hostess Chantelle she whispered’ you can use the owner’s internet but don’t tell anyone and only for a few minutes!’

As it turned out it was lucky. We had an urgent email from our travel agent. Our Horizontal Falls trip and overnight stay on the houseboat is cancelled! There was a bad jet boat accident about a week ago. All trips were cancelled until 10. We were to go on the 11th but now it’s been put off until further We have been offered an extra night in Broome and flight up to Cape Leveque with a visit to the Pearl farm for lunch and a flight over the falls. We’ve taken that but we’re sad as we miss the night on the boat. We didn’t really mind missing the jet boat.

With drama over it’s time for a drink. Lucky we brought some as there is no alcohol on sale here. Time for dinner. It’s a shared table which gave us a chance to meet other travellers. Always a good idea as you meet some interesting people and get some great tips.

Next to us were two men marine engineers from Perth. They had worked in many interesting places overseas. They were on a big trip from aperture across the Nullarbor and then straight up the centre of Australia

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Dinner was prepared by Patrice. Home style cooking. A big rissole with a green pepper sauce and a bowl of veggies. Delicious. First night I haven’t had fish. Dessert as well. Cream caramel. Needless to say the new managers of Mt Elizabeth Station are former restaurant owners. They are busy preparing the rooms. There are 8 with ensuite and the same with shared bathrooms. The rest is camping.

We went back to our donga to find a frog in the toilet, and the aircon didn’t work. Lucky there was a large window with screens as it would have been too cold with air con on in this small bedroom!

We were initially disappointed but it was clean, friendly with a good meal provided. A fine overnight stay on the Gibb RR. But not a place with waterholes and great walks.

Glorious Emma Gorge Walk

I have to admit to feeling just a little apprehensive about the Emma Gorge walk. We’ve heard all kinds of reports about it.

My sister did it a few years ago and said it was challenging. Other people we’ve met on our travels made comments ranging from ‘its very difficult’ to ‘take your time and you can do it. ‘

I was only worried about my arm that I broke back in Dec and is still recovering and wouldn’t handle a fall and Steve’s new knee 6 months ago.

But we did it! Nice and slow with lots of scrambling up and over rocks, rock hopping over creeks, and a steady climb.

We left the Emma Gorge resort around 8.30 with plenty of water , a muesli bar and a bag of lollies. We walked through grasslands, started to gently climb and then got to the scrambling stage.

We passed the turquoise waterhole.

The reward was a swim at the falls. It was magnificent. Beautiful clear water, a waterfall that massaged your back if you positioned yourself underneath it correctly and the perfect temperature for cooling.

The walk back wasn’t as bad as we thought. All downhill and hard in the knees but we were quicker than going up.

Perhaps this sign was just for us!

We went straight to the cafe for a delicious iced coffee!

Hair wet with sweat! And a delicious drink

We got back to The Station at El Questro which is about a 25 min drive away and had another swim in the waterhole just near our cabin.

Water not as clear but a beautiful setting.

The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading before our pre dinner gin, a bbq dinner, music and a game of cards before an early night.

Perfect!

Our cabin behind the paintings.

El Questro Here We Come

Steve and I started the day with a swim. This really is a magic spot. Our little villa was wonderful so feeling rested we walked up the green grassy hill to the pool

On a hill nearby a group of 20 were gently chanting and doing yoga.

Feeling cool and just a little sad to be leaving this beautiful place we headed off towards Argyle Homestead.

This homestead has been rebuilt. It’s the home of the famous Durack family. It’s 5 minutes from Lake Argyle and was relocated because the original site is now underwater. It is now Lake Argyle.

It’s made of stone and is really quite big for a home built on an isolated property so many years ago.

The history of the Durack family is told and what a history it is. Patrick or ‘Patsy’ drove cattle from Queensland taking two and a half years before settling in land in the Ird River area.

We decided we had time to go to Wyndham the very big port right at top of Australia. It became the port all cattle exports left from. We expected a bigger town but it was small with not too much happening.

We started with a view of the town from Five river lockout. S sweeping view of the area showing the effect of an 8 metre tide rise and fall.

W got a few more supplies at the only supermarket in town and a few beers at the bottle shop.

We’d been told the bakery was a must so stopped and had a laugh at the roof decorations.

The woman who owns the bakery is a little pocket rocket who loves a chat as she rushes around clearing plates from those of us who sit inside to enjoy our pies! she’s also a joker teller as he two signs outside the shop declare ‘two wifi engineers got married. The reception was fantastic.

Jill and I shared a crocodile pie and a lemon pepper barramundi pie. Quite delicious and filling.

Two more stops , the first at the huge bronze statues the next at the Afghan cemetery.

These statues are huge and wonderful – the hair is curly wire.

Arriving at El Questro was full of anticipation. It’s 16 from Gibb Rd and crosses several creeks. It’s bumpy, it’s dusty and excitement outside.

It looks like tent city circling around reception, a bar, a few cabins, a cantina food truck and a big grassy relaxing area leading down to some creek ponds. Our swimming pool.

Our station room is next to the restaurant which made me think ‘oh no it will be noisy’. There’s no worry about that. Because

1. Everyone I’m camping areas go to bed early 2. The restaurant is closed. They can’t get enough staff. If anyone reading this can cook I’ve found a job for you.

Enjoyed a grilled Barra a game of 500 and a good sleep.