The magnificent Boab Tree

If you want to see a Boab Tree, head to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This unusual looking tree is found everywhere across the region, from around Kununurra all the way down to Broome you will see these incredible trees.  They are quite the sight to see and we really love these beautiful ancient trees.

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Boabs are a very slow-growing tree and it takes many hundreds of years for these to grow.  They love well-drained sandy soil and the Kimberley region is the perfect growing environment for Boab’s as they receive plenty of warmth and water during their growing season (which happens to be the wet season) and then during their dormant period (the winter months / dry season) they prefer the drier conditions.

The boab tree is deciduous and loses all its leaves during dormancy in winter.   As these winter months are the ‘dry season’ this is the time most travellers are in the area.  Therefore, it’s generally a bare brown skeleton of a tree that is seen.   The new flowers usually start to open around November.

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Every boab tree is unique and some of them are said to be over 1500 years old.  As for the history of the trees, the Aborigines used them for shelter, food and medicine.  Once the white settlers arrived they were more commonly used as meeting points, or as described later, prison cells.

We’ve heard a few stories of why the boab tree looks the way it does, but one such story is that, initially the boab was one of the most beautiful majestic trees ever created.  After a while it began to boast of its beauty to the other trees.  It was after this that a higher being decided to punish it and turned it upside down to expose its roots and hide its beauty forever.

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Food

Boab trees have a ‘nut’ which grows and inside the nut are seeds.  As mentioned previously, the indigenous people used this tree as a food source as most parts of the tree are edible.  Apparently parts of the tree are very high in Vitamin C content.

Nowadays boabs are grown commercially and the boab roots are sold and make their way into many gourmet foods.  We actually purchased the most amazing mango and boab chutney while we were in WA.


Art & Craft

The nuts themselves are covered in a fine hair which, once scraped off, reveals the dark brown boab nut.  In many of the art galleries and craft stores around the Kimberly you will see the most amazing carvings that have been carved out on these nuts.


Boab Prison Tree

While on our Western Australian trip a few years ago we visited to Boab Prison Tree in Derby (pictured below).  This tree is said to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres.  It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.  This tree is now a registered Aboriginal Site.

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As the trees age, their trunks become hollow.  It was said that this tree was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners over night, on their way to Derby for sentencing.  It’s recently been reported that there is no evidence that this particular tree was ever used as a prison, but there was also another similar one at Wyndham.

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We really do love these trees, there is just something about them.  At the end of the day it is just a tree, but they are all so different and there is something slightly magical about these ancient creatures.  We even brought our own boab home with us which sits proudly on our front entrance.

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El Questro

IMG_6575At just over 700,000 acres in size and just over 100km from the nearest town, El Questro is one of Australia’s unique little treasures.  It’s located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and is accessible from the Gibb River Road.

After turning off the Gibb River Road it’s a short drive until you reach Emma Gorge Resort, the first of the properties of El Questro, and home to the spectacular Emma Gorge. 

A further drive along a dirt road and a few river crossings later you will reach The Station, which is the main hub of El Questro.  IMG_6576IMG_6577El Questro offers accommodation suitable for everyone and every budget, ranging from the luxury 5 star Homestead, to bungalows and powered and unpowered camping at The Station to the safari style tented cabins at the Emma Gorge Resort.  We chose to stay at The Station on a powered camping site.  It was convenient and close to the amenities, the shop, the bar and the swimming hole.  It was very busy, like your typical caravan park, but everyone was so friendly and excited to tell you about their holiday and where they had explored that it didn’t really bother us too much!  If you really do want to get away from the other travellers though, they do offer private secluded campsites along the river.IMG_6593IMG_6598It really is worthwhile spending a few days at El Questro and exploring the property.  We absolutely loved our stay.  It wasn’t cheap and it’s very busy, so not to everyone’s liking, but we highly recommend it.  They really have done a great job with this property, the amenities were great (you see a lot of bathrooms and toilets whilst camping and for a campground in the middle of nowhere, these are 5 star!).  The outdoor ‘Swinging Arm Bar’ has a great atmosphere and we spent a night there sitting by the campfire listening to live music.  They also have a restaurant which overlooks the river, offering great views with your meal.  IMG_6578 As most of the waters in this part of Australia tend to be filled with crocodiles, it’s never a good idea to duck in for a swim!  Although the Pentecost River runs through the property, they have a couple of fairly shallow rocky sections where they advise that it’s safe to swim.  IMG_6592IMG_6579This area is so diverse and after taking your time to explore you will see the landscape change from rugged sandstone ranges to rainforest areas and permanent waterfalls, as well as numerous beautiful gorges, it really is a magical place with so much to see. IMG_6581IMG_6586We spent quite a bit of time exploring the 4WD tracks around the property and the signage on these tracks was perfect.  So often you are left wondering where the track goes or if you should have turned somewhere, but not at El Questro.  The tracks are well maintained and there is just the right amount of clear signage that you were never left wondering where to turn next.IMG_6591IMG_6599IMG_6582Now yes this is a very popular place and during the peak tourist season it is full to the brim with excited tourists undertaking the iconic Gibb River Road!  But whilst in the ‘township’ you are always surrounded by people, noise and activities, the property is so large that there are times whilst out exploring that you feel like you are the only people on earth.  To stand on the edge of a cliff overlooking the remote rugged landscape below it is an amazing feeling, you feel so small in the middle of this enormous wilderness park.  IMG_6583During your stay you will never be bored, there is so much to do.  Whether you are driving a 4WD track, trekking to one of the gorges, taking in one of the organised activities (for a cost) like barramundi fishing, horse ridding or exploring the remote areas by helicopter, or just catching up with fellow travellers at the bar, there is always something to keep you occupied. IMG_6587IMG_6589I would have to say that my favourite place at El Questro was Zebedee Springs, absolutely loved it.  IMG_6600IMG_6602This is one of the most popular places to visit and is always very busy so you need to get there early.  It’s only open to the public from 7am to 12pm daily, as after that it’s available for private tours or homestead guests only, so you can understand how popular this is.  IMG_6604Zebedee Springs is a permanent thermal spring which is fed via a fault line from a permanent supply of water from deep within the earth.  The water temperature is between 28-32 degrees Celsius all year round.  The surrounding cliff faces are up to 1800 million years old and are known as ‘King Leopold Sandstone’.IMG_6606We left camp to drive out there just before 7am to ensure that we’d get in!  From the car park it’s a walk of approximately 750m to the Zebedee Springs, via a beautiful trail lined with Livistona and Pandanus Palms until you reach the thermal pools.  Here you can sit in the warm spring waters in a series of rock pools and waterfalls that cascade down from the forest.  This is an incredibly beautiful site and take one visit here and you can see why it’s so popular.  We spent an hour or so here just taking in the beautiful surroundings and chatting with other tourists.  George didn’t go into the springs, but Shelly enjoyed a relaxing soak in the natural warm spring water.IMG_6608As for the history of El Questro – back in 1903 a lease called “Spurling’s Pocket” was taken up on the land, but due to the rugged and rocky land, it wasn’t successful as a cattle station and ownership subsequently changed hands numerous times.  In the late ’50’s it was first called El Questro.  As well as cattle, the new owners grew and sold vegetables to the up and coming Kununurra township.  After this it changed hands a few more times, finally having El Questro Wilderness Park open to the public in 1992.IMG_6610After a couple more changes in ownership, El Questro was sold in March 2010 to the current owners, Delaware North Parks and Resorts, who are a member of Delaware North Companies, a nearly 100-year-old organisation whose family owned companies are innovators in hospitality, entertainment, food service and retail.  Apparently this company has upgraded many of the facilities and continue to do so, so whilst it may not be Australian owned, they do seem to be spending the money and looking after the property and you can’t ask for more than that.IMG_6611IMG_6617The views around this property are truly breathtaking and there are so many different places to see.  It is a stunning place to visit, you will be surprised at what you experience in this little oasis in remote outback Australia.  We definitely recommend a visit to El Questro.IMG_6622

Tanami Track (part 2)

Surprisingly enough, our second night camped on the Tanami was our warmest night yet. There was a little chill in the morning until the sun was fully up, but it quickly warmed up for another beautiful day.

Sunrise on the Tanami


We crossed the border into WA (wanted to get a photo but someone had stolen the sign!!). 
On the way to Halls Creek we took a detour to see the Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater and we are glad we did, WOW! It’s huge and it’s amazing to see.

Years ago we went to see another crater in Qld and after a long hot walk to get to the top, I can’t say we were impressed. But this one is totally different and definitely worth seeing.  
The Wolfe Creek meteorite crater is the second largest crater in the world from which fragments of a meteorite have been collected. The crater is 880 metres across and almost circular. It’s believed that when the meteorite crashed to Earth around 300,000 years ago, it weighed more than 50,000 tonnes and would have been travelling at 15 kilometres a second.


Although the crater was officially discovered by Europeans in 1947, the Aboriginal people knew of it and called it ‘Kandimalal’. Their story is that two rainbow snakes formed the nearby Sturt and Wolfe Creeks as they crossed the desert. They believe the crater is where one snake emerged from the ground.

Now, onto some not so nice parts of the trip ….. 

George had mentioned earlier on that the brakes on the trailer didn’t seem to be working, we’d tried a few things out and couldn’t work out what was wrong. We weren’t sure if it was the brakes or the brake controller so we decided to continue on to Halls Creek (didn’t really have any other option anyway!) and deal with it there. We rang Cub Campers back in Sydney and asked them if they had any ideas. After telling us what to look for, George found that the wire connector for the electric brakes had been cut (obviously to do with the rocks and corrugations on the track). Cub called us back within about 5 minutes with approval to get the repair done wherever we could and they would reimburse us under warranty.

It was after this that we also realised that a chunk has been taken out of one of the trailer tyres, so we headed to the Toyota service centre to get another tyre fitted. Of course we have spares with us, but thought we’d buy another whilst we were in civilisation! 

We then went in search of someone to repair the brakes! We have to give a big shout out to the boys at Baileys Auto Repairs in Halls Creek who dropped everything to fix the trailer when we randomly rocked up at the store!

Oh and in case you were all wondering …… another 30 degree day!