El Questro Wilderness Park, East Kimberley WA
The Cockburn Range
(I'm not making this up)
in the East Kimberley
where El Questro is
The El Questro
perched above the
surrounded by lush
green lawns this is a
5 star resort in the
middle of nowhere.
This is, or at least was,
and may well still be
the reception area
complete with general store
staff quarters and all the
necessary bits and pieces
that go to make up a
resort and camping area
as well as a 1 million acre
cattle station (ranch)
The search for the elusive
Barramundi in the Chamberlain River
There are lots of waterfalls
in the Park, this one is at
For any readers who have followed the trip to WA that Wazza and I did in 2002 you will have read his account of our adventures in the
We did not visit the El Questro Wilderness Park as there had been severe cyclone damage to it a few months prior to our trip, Emma Gorge is a part of this property, we did visit there.
The next few paragraphs which deal with the background of the young Englishman whose dream became El Questro have been gleaned from various internet sources and are included as background.
Will Burrell bought El Questro 15 years ago as a 23-year-old for a dollar an acre.
With his wife Celia they built up the property from an overgrown wilderness to an internationally acclaimed wilderness retreat.
Will was born in 1967 and had a privileged British upbringing. Educated at
Will met Celia Shelmerdine, a
In 1991 Will and Celia scoured the northern outback of
Will Burrell is an English born entrepreneur who bought, developed and recently sold the multi award winning 1 million acre El Questro Wilderness Park in
Will Burrell was the Western Australian Young Achiever of the Year in 1994 and was appointed a Member of the Order of
The internationally acclaimed cattle station El Questro, in the
Back to real time.
In 1992 when Julie and I did the trip through The Kimberley we spent a few days at what was then the infant development that was to grow into the fabulous El Questro Wilderness Park.
To get there we took a rough dirt road, off The Gibb River Road
which was , and still is today, one of the premier 4WD destinations in Australia, El Questro was at this time only just beginning to be developed but it was located in such a beautiful natural setting that it’s future was assured.
We had a small “Tinnie” boat which allowed us access to the river, “YES” there are crocodiles in it but only the freshwater variety which are not considered dangerous, from the homestead/resort which is built on a cliff some 40/50 feet above the water they fed and encouraged the Barra to congregate and perform as they fed.
There are many gorges in the area, carved out over the years by the raging flood waters that occur each “Wet Season” so the scenery is spectacular, bird life is prolific and there are many variety’s of Kangaroo and Wallaby.
As well as this there are several thermal springs which bubble forth lovely clear water at blood temperature, these are located in natural bush surroundings which while we were there were private enough to dispense with the need for clothing, which added a tinge of excitement to the dip.
The reception area which at that time consisted of a group of buildings that blended in with their surroundings so well that as we forded a small creek and drove through a clump of paperbark (Melalucca) trees we suddenly found ourselves back in civilization which after a few days on the Gibb River Road was a surprise.
A little beyond this was the previously mentioned Homestead/Resort that has had some famous guests stay there, Prince Frederick of Denmark and his then fiancé Mary, Kylie Minouge, to name a couple, but El Questro is by no means exclusive – there’s probably very few Kimberley residents who haven’t rolled out a swag there over the last 15 years.
The resort had a resident foreman/ramrod to keep the day to day things running smoothly, his name was Buddy and he well could have stepped out of the pages of a western book or movie, tall thin but muscular with the bow legs of a man who has spent his life on a horse he was dressed in jeans and an immaculate white shirt cowboy boots and hat, Buddy told the most amazing tales of life in the Kimberley as a cattleman that I have ever heard.
There were stories about swimming herds of cattle across flooded rivers, most with the ever present saltwater crocodiles in them, of mustering wild cattle from country that had never before seen man or horse, droving the cattle hundreds of miles to the ports of either Derby or Whyndham for shipping to overseas markets.
I have no doubt that over the last 15 years many changes would have been made to the very early version of El Questro that we saw, but I know positively that the beauty of the place will still be there, it is one of natures gems as well as a tribute to the imagination of the very young Will Burrell.
There are many fine
examples of aboriginal
rock art in the area.
Will and Celia are
pictured here with some.