We heard great things about El Questro, which is in the far eastern top corner of Western Australia, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Doing El Questro with kids can be challenging, as many of the hikes are full of huge boulders and rocks you need to scramble over.
We still managed to see the main spots we wanted to see, and didn’t feel as though we missed out.
As the entrance to the Gibb River Road, it gave us a taste of what the Gibb would be like, even if we didn’t get a chance to explore it this time around. (But we have promised ourselves that we will get to it one day!)
Here is our two-day itinerary for El Questro with kids:
We left Kununurra bright and early to get into El Questro before it got too hot. We had planned to do everything in one day, but it turned out to be too difficult when we arrived at Emma Gorge and realised if we hiked it we wouldn’t have time to visit the hot springs.
So we left Emma Gorge and headed to Zebedee Springs for the morning, as it shuts at 12pm. Unsure as to why it closes at lunchtime – although it’s possibly for private tours? You can stay in accommodation that costs $3,000 a night (yes, you read that correctly) in El Questro, so I’m guessing they let those people use the springs on their own!
Zebedee Springs is in a beautiful setting underneath palm trees and in the mangroves, giving it a truly tropical vibe even though it feels like you’re in the dusty desert in places.
When we went it was quite busy although we did get a few moments to ourselves in certain sections of the pool.
There’s a short ten-minute walk to get the springs, so it’s very easy to do with kids.
El Questro Gorge
After a dip in Zebedee Springs, we headed to El Questro gorge. I noticed on the map it said there was a river crossing, but when we got there we were surprised to see it was actually a very deep river crossing. More than 600mm deep.
We had hardly done any proper river crossings at this point, so we were a bit nervous as we made our way across. The water nearly came up to my window and went over the top of the car’s bonnet!
We were thankful for our snorkel, although if you don’t have one you can probably hitch a ride across, as lots of people were doing it.
The gorge itself was quite a challenging hike with a two-year-old, because it’s rocky with both small and large boulders. I’ve no doubt Ruby could’ve hiked it on her own but it would’ve taken until nightfall so we decided to carry her.
It’s a hike you can complete at any time of the day, as most of it’s shaded. When we arrived at the first pool, we waited an hour or so, eating snacks and resting. Then the pool cleared out and we had it to ourselves.
You can carry on the hike from here to an upper pool, but it involves a scramble up a waterfall and I don’t think we could’ve managed it with Ruby.
The pool we made it to was the halfway point of the whole hike and took us about an hour and a half one way. Without Ruby it’d probably take an hour.
If you haven’t been 4WDing before, I’d avoid the lookouts at El Questro because they are quite extreme. We chose to do Saddleback Ridge and it’s extremely steep and rocky. There are a lot of switchbacks driving up to the top of the ridge and the corners are very tight. Sometimes it felt like we were going to roll off the mountain, but we made it!
We came up for sunset and were rewarded for the tough drive with breathtaking views over the El Questro lands.
You can also walk up this track – I think it takes about two hours return – but I’d avoid sunset when the dozens of 4WDs make their way up there.
El Questro Station
After sunset, we headed to El Questro Station for happy hour at the bar. There was live music but disappointingly we were there on a day that didn’t serve food – you had to to the restaurant next door for that.
We stayed a couple of hours with friends and then drove back to Kununurra in the dark – which I wouldn’t recommend doing. Ruby was asleep in about two minutes after getting in the car.
On your second day in El Questro with kids, we would recommend hiking Emma Gorge, which is probably the most well-known hike in the area.
It’s best to complete it early in the morning, as the tour buses start arriving by 9am and it gets hot on some parts of the trail as it isn’t all shaded.
Like El Questro Gorge, there is a river crossing to get to the trailhead, although the water depth is a lot lower than El Questro.
The hike starts off on a simple bush path, but after awhile you are scrambling up rocks and boulders again.
There are two pools on this trail and I would recommend hiking to both. The smaller one is first, and is a lovely swimming spot. The more adventurous were climbing on to the big boulder at the back of the pool and jumping off, but we weren’t brave enough.
A short, five minute walk further and you’ll come to the end of the trail, at a huge pool with gorge walls all around you. It feels as though you’re in a giant sinkhole and the light shines down in streams. It truly is a magical spot, especially when water trickles down the wall’s sides and creates mini waterfalls.
When you enter the water, you will see some boulders on the far right. Swimming up and into this area and you’ll be treated to a little hot spring pool – relaxing on the bones after the larger pool’s frigid waters.
After our hike, which takes about two hours return (without Ruby!) we had a picnic in the grounds of the El Questro Emma Gorge accommodation which has a restaurant if you didn’t pack your lunch.
What we missed at El Questro
We didn’t get a chance to do all the hikes at El Questro and I think some of them would be too challenging with a two-year-old. However, if we had more time we would’ve attempted the Amalia Gorge Trail and the 4WD track up to Bronco’s Lookout.
El Questro entry fees
It costs $22 per adult for a seven-day pass to El Questro. You can also pay less (I think it’s about $10 a person) for a one-day pass. Children under 12 are free.
You can read about all the El Questro hikes on their website here.
Have you been to El Questro with kids? Did you love it as much as we did?
Read more about our other adventures in WA here.