El Questro Homestead Review
The Elevator Pitch
A luxury couples retreat. Perfect for food and wine lovers. You can spend the whole time relaxing by the pool, but to be honest you would be a fool to not take in the sights, which can make this an adventurous and unforgettable holiday. The Homestead can accommodate a maximum of 18 guests and guests have to be aged over 16. When you combine this with the scenery, it makes this a particularly exclusive destination.
Bring an extra set of eyes to see everything this place has to offer.
When you arrive it is all about the view, you walk in through the grand doors at the entrance and just keep on walking straight out the back door to breathe in your view for the next few days. And why wouldn’t you? The Chamberlain Gorge looks as though it was carved by some magical glacier leaving behind beautiful deposits of red ochre formed into breath taking cliff faces and chasms with an incredible river of majestic blue (or orange depending on the time of day) water flowing through it. Not usually one for geology, you can’t help but admire the varying shades of the sedimentary rock, the impossible angles of the various sprees or the sheer drama of the escarpment in this sandstone rich ground. The entire surroundings feel wild and raw, like you have uncovered some ancient land. However the lush expansive lawn brings you back to reality and you get the feeling that you are at home… a very impressive home.
You barely stop to take in the small yet capacious reception area with its’ colonial style open beamed wooden structures. A large skylight bathes the room in a beautiful natural light. The expansive fireplace, deep lounges and large red urn reflecting the colours of the landscape give a very homely feel. And a fully stocked bar never goes astray. However these lovely features of the common area you will come to appreciate throughout your stay.
The rooms all have names relating to their surroundings and you want one with a view of the Gorge. As soon as you walk in to the rooms, you want to jump in the free standing stone bath with a glass of bubbles, admire the panoramic view and keep your eye out for crocs (though you are much more likely to fresh water crocs than salt water ones here). The AESOP bath products and the view make you feel like you are permanently in day spa throughout your stay. There is plenty of glass to admire the view making the rooms feel light and airy, but the drapes are heavy enough to cut out the light when you sleep. Plenty of wood and stone in different textures and shades make the rooms feel rustic and charming, just how you would expect a homestead to feel.
Don’t forget to look up. I know a resort can’t claim the sky as one of its’ carefully designed features, but if you could you would. From the clear blue skies by day and the sparkling mass of stars at night. The milky way stretches for an eternity above you, the southern cross assuring you that you are in the right place – figuratively and metaphorically. And somewhere in between day and night if your lucky you will get an amazing sunset and a gorgeous view of the belt of Venus.
Leisure & Activities
Many of the king beds are feather topped for your comfort, while for your audio comfort, there is a Bose Wave sounds system and a great mini bar for your tastebuds. There is limited wifi, which is a great excuse to immerse yourself in nature and forget about the worries of the world.
The pool is ensconced by the remarkable view of the Gorge. You would struggle to find a pool anywhere in the world with a view like this. It is not a huge pool, but for the small number of guests it is more than sufficient. I particularly liked the red towels. It added a touch of difference and the hints of red around the property were the right mix of subtle and bold to keep the colour palette interesting. The palm trees were in line with the feel of the ancient palm trees around the natural waterfalls and springs in the area.
There is no day spa, but with natural thermal springs, there is no real need for one.
Meet The Family
The staff are incredibly friendly and each one is as unique as the surrounding landscape.
You are made to feel exclusive and important throughout your stay, so it is a great trip for the ego. Everybody knows you by name and is eager to ensure that your every whim is catered to.
Even the local freshwater croc’s are friendly. More inclined to eat the bread you can literally feed to them over the edge of the gorge than the fish that have amassed next to them to consume the aforementioned bread. This night time ritual (if you are lucky enough to get a croc, which we did) is a great way to bond with the other guests, you are sharing something pretty special together.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
The property is managed by a husband and wife team, who work fantastically together, she makes you feel right at home and he cooks up the delicious fare. The cuisine is modern Australian and locally sourced mainly from the Ord River Valley. The wine selection is varied despite being patriotic to the State. All wines are sourced from Western Australia, but to be fair they do know how to make a good drop in WA.
There are various destinations for enjoying your meals either on the veranda with views of the gorge, the communal dining table in the shade or on a private location under the stars. You can even grab a picnic for a private lunch in one of the beautiful surrounds.
Let’s Step Outside
While I could prattle on and on about the homestead, I just have to get to the attractions, because you will be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world that has so many incredible attractions at their doorstep… OK not quite their doorstep, but when you are talking about the Kimberley, a vast landscape covering over 400,000 square kilometres (about the same size as California), then relatively speaking these sights are just there on your red dust covered doorstep. Just don’t call it The Kimberley’s (as I did), you will be quickly reprimanded by the locals. It is ‘The Kimberley’.
It is a particularly humbling experience if you make your presence known to the traditional aboriginal land-owners, a practice that is not necessarily a requirement, but a beautifully respectful way of acknowledging the traditional land owners and thanking them for allowing you on their land.
While the rangers assure you that the freshwater crocodiles are OK to swim with, I am not so sure, that is until I met the local freshwater croc at the Homestead. These guys are just like fluffy little bunnies, compared to their more ferocious relative, the salt water crocodile, though I am still not 100% convinced I want to swim with them. While the salt water croc’s are definitely around, they are a little harder to find. Other interesting animals include Wallaroos and Bullocks. This is also one for the twitchers with plenty of brolga’s and jabirus. We didn’t make it to the Bungle Bungles, but this is another place of interest to visit.
The numerous plump Boab trees look like they are from another planet, imagine a tree, then strip back everything you think you know about trees and woolah – you have a Boab tree. Some of these trees are over 1000 years old. It is no wonder they are held in high spiritual regard. The aboriginal legend is that the Boab trees were so proud and arrogant that they were punished by dreamtime spirits and replanted upside down with their roots in the air.
The amazing smell of spinafex, like toffee apple in summer permeates the air wherever you go. These spiky ankle high friends (or foes if you are not wearing protective socks or boot covers) contain a delicious smelling resin that the aboriginals used for fixing spearheads to sticks.
El Questro Station:
Make sure you visit The Homestead’s little cousin The Station, although after the Homestead it feels more like you are visiting the extended family. This is a buzzing little alcove of camping and entertainment from the basics to a little more upmarket bungalow style accommodation. This is much more family friendly, set on the Pentecost River it has a great swimming hole and a lovely Steakhouse Restaurant.
Go there early to beat the crowds and the heat. The walk is about half an hour, but leave yourself an hour to stop and admire the colours of the gorge against the sky, the many beautiful swimming holes along the way. You will need to navigate large boulders, so embrace your inner mountain goat. We loved the natural phenomenon of the swimming hole, where the left part of the swimming hole beneath the waterfall is warm and the right is icy cold. The Campsite at Emma Gorge is the smaller, more distinguished, upper class cousin to the El Questro Station with safari style tented cabins and a basic restaurant. The Homestead is like The Queen – refined, distinguished, polished. Emma Gorge is akin to Prince William, still refined but a lot more approachable and the Homestead is Prince Harry ready to party.
This place will capture your heart and your imagination. It feels so ancient, yet has the luxurious feel of a five star spa treatment. You pass through ancient Livistonia Palm trees, Pandanus and red dirt. You can almost imagine dinosaurs frolicking here.
The butterflies make way in the drones to announce your arrival, like a remarkable natural ticker tape parade. The water is crystal clear and the thermal springs are the perfect bath temperature 28-32 degrees Celsius. It is the perfect place to fall in love again with that someone special. From walking on fallen logs over the water to sitting in the pools that cascade down to chasing butterflies you cannot help but access your inner child.
Miri Miri Falls:
You can only access this majestic waterfall by helicopter, well I didn’t research the fact, because hey if someone says you need to get a chopper anywhere I am all in. I won’t lie, the water is ‘turn your toes blue’ fresh, but having an incredible natural waterfall to yourself with palm trees to boot in the middle of Australia, I will take it no matter what the water temperature.
There are endless trails, gorges and lookouts, such as Branco’s or Buddy’s Point, for enjoying sundowners. I know I said the staff at El Questro were unique, but I haven’t left myself enough room to describe the guides – they are little galaxies of individuality. They have the equivalent of all the knowledge that Stephen Hawking has on quantum physics, on their local flora, fauna and history. Every question you ask however always seems to come back to ‘so tell me about the salt water crocodiles’, because we can’t help but be curious and slightly morbidly obsessed with the killer instincts of these ancient animals. Don’t miss out an unabridged story on the Kimberley Killer, a campsite fire thriller – only real.
There are group boat trips you can do and the fishing illuminati love this area for the incredible barramundi. Though there are only certain areas that it is allowed. Aboard a boat, we were able to meander our way through the waterways, spotting rock wallabies with beautiful markings. At the culmination of the point of the river where the boats don’t go any further, we were able to hand feed the metre long barramundi. My Hubby thought he was so brave, but he nearly fell back in the boat trying to pull his hand out of this very impressive fish’s mouth.
Show Me The Money
Rooms start from about $2000AUD per night. As the Luxury Travel Gold List Winner for Best Luxury Eco Property you wouldn’t expect this place to be cheap. Take into account that this price is all inclusive of an open self-serve bar and quality cuisine.
You are mixing with some pretty fancy company at El Questro Homestead. Famous Guests include Ewan Mcgregor, Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman. For a luxurious stay, the Homestead is your girl, but if you want to enjoy the region and keep your bank balance intact, then head down the hill to El Questro Station.
Set A Date
The Homestead is closed during wet season from November to March. Floods can block the roads in for up to six weeks, so you want to make sure you go there in the right season.
Soundproofing. The guests staying next to us came to our door and complained, albeit very nicely, about the noise we were making. We were literally just having a conversation about who was going to put their clothes in which side of the cupboard. They were staying in the Chamberlain Suite, which cost a lot more than our Homestead Room (about $1000 more per night), so I understand, I would want some peace and quiet for that kind of money too. We were a little on eggshells for the rest of the trip, trying to have short showers in case the noise of the plumbing disturbed our neighbours. We were later moved to one of the free standing Cliff Side Retreats, which we felt a lot more comfortable in. We figured we could laugh and talk and not disturb anyone here with our lovely stone garden walls.
Support the local community by volunteering or riding in the Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge. A 660km relay ride. Money raised goes to charities such The Royal Flying Doctor Service and finishes at El Questro.
Donate to the EON Foundation to help provide edible gardens in remote Aboriginals schools and communities to improve health.
To see more images of this beautiful resort visit our Discovery section by clicking below.