Day 19: Emma Gorge

Author: Mrs A

We had a lazy start to the morning before heading off in the car back up to the Gibb River Road and backtracking towards Kununurra about 11km to Emma Gorge. 

Emma Gorge is another resort area, predominantly cabins and a restaurant – no camping. In the 1990s it, along with El Questro, was purchased by a couple for $1 million Australian dollars – 1 million acres, a dollar an acre – as Mr A mentioned yesterday. A million was probably small change for that couple, one being an heir to the Penguin books empire in the UK and the other being heir to the Myer department store network in Australia. They built up the business and sold it on for about $13 million in about 2005 to a resort management company which also manages Uluru (Ayers Rock).

Our visit, however, was not to the resort, but rather the gorge behind it, named after one of the daughters of the original land owners. It does feel somewhat uncomfortable thinking about the ‘owners’ of land around here, given the evidence of the indigenous land custodianship we see about. There is little mention of that here, though we hear there are many discussions happening with the aim of clearing the bad blood between the populations. We have heard of mass murders of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley (like in many areas of Australia) in the 1800s that remain raw.


Our initial impression was that this gorge would be far easier to tackle than El Questro Gorge, with the start of the track being relatively flat and sandy. It soon changed, however, back to clambering over river rocks, often slippery and the pathway challenging to see as it cris-crossed across the creek. As always the scenery was stunning, surrounded by sandstone walls and rocks which had fallen and often showed fossilised ripples from the shallow sea they once made up. The rocks in these parts pre date any life on earth, so other than ripple-rock there is little other fossilised evidence.

As we climbed, the gorge walls began to close in, initially bringing us to a stunning turquoise pool, and then after final clambering, the final pool, with several waterfalls spilling over the sandstone cliff edge into the icy cold water. We stripped off and waded to knee deep, our lower legs feeling numb, considering a total immersion. Fortunately we were saved by another gorge visitor who told me there was a hot spring waterfall on the right hand side of the pool, with a toasty 30 degrees – perfect! We sat under the waterfall there in total bliss.


Back at camp, I managed to spend a couple of hours painting in the afternoon sun, while Mr A pottered around getting things packed up ready for our departure tomorrow. Unusually we had a little cloud this evening, making for a lovely sunset, and we are about to head over to the resort bar for their BBQ dinner. All is good at El Questro as we prepare to depart. 

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