"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

El Questro.

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
Chamberlain River
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
Emma Gorge

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 Kimberley area of northern Australia.

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 Eton he went on to become a young associate director at London based city firm Charles Barker. Working in London, New York and latterly Sydney, the firm specialized in corporate and investor relations.

Will met Celia Shelmerdine, a Melbourne based Art Director whilst she was working in London, they married in 1994 and have 2 children with a third on the way.

In 1991 Will and Celia scoured the northern outback of Australia for a large land holding with the primary objective of creating a Kimberley wilderness holiday experience for all budgets of travellers alongside the secondary business of a cattle operation. El Questro was ideally located and blessed with mountain ranges, river systems, thermal springs and gorges; most previously undiscovered.
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
Northern Australia.

Will Burrell was the Western Australian Young Achiever of the Year in 1994 and was appointed a Member of the Order of
Australia this year for services to tourism and regional development in Northern Australia.

The internationally acclaimed cattle station El Questro, in the East Kimberley, has been sold for more than 17 million dollars to a hotel conglomerate.

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.

The beautiful Chamberlain River runs through the property and offers excellent Barramundi fishing, this was one of the many spots we fished successfully for Barra.

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 fiancĂ© 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.


c'est moi said...

Those are gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wouldn't mind spending a vacation there. Thanks, Peter.

Val said...

“YES” there are crocodiles in it but only the freshwater variety which are not considered dangerous

Yeah right! ONLY the freshwater variety...?

Hats off to these people with their vision, looks like a great place to visit and learn to appreciate the wonders of nature.

Lee said...

Fabulous pictures, Peter. I'd love to visit and stay at El Questo...every photo or documentary I've seen depicting it shows it to be a stunningly awesome place.

Shannon said...

What gorgeous pictures!
I dropped by to say thank you for the kind words. I'll come by again soon!

kenju said...

Wonderful photos, Peter. That looks like a gorgeous place and I would love to see more of the aboriginal art.

Jeanette said...

Great photo's peter. Getaway. showed "El Questro" on there show before xmas, it looks an amazing place to visit and there were a couple of large salties shown there.

Gwen said...

Hi Peter.
Great shots the art and water falls are amazing thanks you for dropping in.Had a visit with MerleSaturday past.

Jack K. said...

Great story. Great photos.

Thanks, Peter.

Hale McKay said...

Peter, in my post of 5/5, I have created some music videos of Bush, Hillary, and a famous performer from Oz.

(I am anticipating reprisal.)

Puss-in-Boots said...

My brother and sister-in-law holidayed at El Questro about nine years ago and absolutely loved it. My brother is the golf playing, fine dining type and my SIL loves the outdoors and wildlife. They reckon they had both there.

Phils Phun said...

G'day Peter
Hope you don't mind
But have pinched a couple of these great photo's

wazza said...

Gidday Peter,
Like Merle, I too saw the programme about El Questro on "Getaway" and it looked fabulous. With only a month for the trip we did, we couldn't see it all, and as you know from a earlier trip you did with Julie, six months would still not be enough to see all of the Kimberley, the rest of W.A and the Northern Territory. I think it was quite remarkable for what we did see and do in the amount of time we had.

Jamie Dawn said...

After you mentioned your little boat AND THEN said there WERE crocs, I went into a catatonic state out of sheer fear.
Crocs scare me to death!
A small boat would NOT do if there were crocs.
I would need a much bigger boat in order to brave those waters. Also, I might need to wear a diaper in case I get the pee scared out of me.

The photos are gorgeous. That five star resort sounds wonderful to me! I love to be pampered!!

JunieRose2005 said...

Wonderful pictures, Peter!


Meow said...

Looks like an amazing place ... I have read about about El Questro. It is another of those places that I want to visit sometime.
Thanks for sharing, Peter.
Take care, Meow

bornfool said...

Just one of the many places i want to visit in Oz. Great pictures and story.

Vickie said...

Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures Peter. As always I enjoy my visits each time I come here.
I have always wanted to visit your country---thank you for allowing me to see it through your eyes.

Dave said...

Wow Pete... AWESOME pictures!!

Jim said...

Thanks Peter, for telling us all about El Questro. I have been reading Warren's and your adventure, it sounded really nice!
Yes, the resort is in the middle of nowwhere, in fact the whole place looks like a 'nowwhere' that is 'somewhere' I would like to go to.

I like the way you did my picture at the truck stop--with me in the green coldweather Pioneer Seed jacket. Great, I maybe should even use it for my proficle picture.
Thanks, too, for keeping me in your computer. As of Tuesday my blogging will cease until the middle of June. We are going to the Mother Country--more than half my blood is British with English and Manx mostly for the British part.

Karen and Billy may post for the blog occasionally while I'm gone, I might say hello from and Internet cafe here or there.

On the e-mail. I don't have a G-mail address, my Google account address is my same old Yahoo.com one that comments always automatically come to. Maybe you could change back and never use the G-mail one for blogging?

Joy Des Jardins said...

Gorgeous pictures along with your story Peter...what a place. Thanks so much.

Walker said...

Oh man I know where I want to live.
The pictures are beautiful
Mother Nature's cradle is something to behold isn't it?

Have a nice day

Cliff Morrow said...

The 'tinge of excitement' would be competely dependent on the current company. Right?
I would someday like to visit there. You did yourself proud.

Margaret said...

Great post, I also visited with the getaway crew along with Merle and Warren
Cheers Margaret

Rebecca said...

How beautiful that is....it's time to start saving my money for a trip there.....

Katherine said...

Wow. I can't believe someone so young was able to develop that land into the resort pictured. Truly amazing.