The next few days were all about hiking and swimming. A tough life, I know! In all fairness, the hikes were quite difficult at times and always sweltering hot. The ice cold watering holes we dove in at the end of each gorge were worth the sweat! Each hike and gorge was so different than the previous as the terrain varied from lush rain forests, to dry dusty arid plains.
We tried to get up early to do a morning hike, nap in the afternoon, drive to the next gorge to hike and swim in the late afternoon.
We left El Questro gorge in the morning, stopping for a quick soak at Zebdee Hot Springs. We then drove a few miles off Gibb River where we did a short 45 minute bush walk to find stunning Emma Gorge hidden within El Questro’s Cockburn ranges. Emma’s waterfall was flowing into a large chilly turquoise pool. We could have stayed here all day but the gorge had a closing time which we found quite strange.
We drove along the Gibb River Road until we came upon the famous Pentecost River in which we had to cross over in Hercules. The Pentecost was the most daunting river crossing of our journey as it is 100 feet wide with a fast flowing river that salt water crocodiles inhabit. You do not want to get stuck in the middle of this river! I happened to be driving at the time and admit I was a bit freaked out as I felt the car lifting as I tried my best to drive slowly and steadily! A large truck approached the other side and the Aussie bloke said “Good on you girls for crossing that massive river!”
The hike to Manning Gorge was the most grueling of all the gorge hikes on the Gibb. We got a late start which didn’t help as the mid-day sun pounded upon us, the dry arid plains offering no shady spots to rest. Annoying flies were everywhere on the trail, pestering us as they tried to go into our eyes, nose, and ears. At one point Stacy counted that I was carrying 30 flies on my back!
The hike took 1.5 hours each way. When we finally made it to the water we were pleased to find we were the only people in the gorge (the only 2 dumb enough to make that hike mid-day!) Neither of us wanting to get out of the water and make the trek back through the heat.
Below is a short 360 video from inside the pool.
On the way back I took a big sip out of water from my cambelbak noticing something besides water inside my mouth. To my horror I pulled out a white worm/maggot looking creature from my lips, the other half dangling out of the end of the tube! Spitting, squealing, and jumping about I was completely grossed out! Stacy had also taken some sips earlier from my hydration pouch, but is still in denial that she could have also eaten whatever it was living inside the pouch. I squeezed the end of the tube and noticed several other white crawly creatures inhabiting the valve. We were both totally disguested and I couldn’t imagine how I would make the hike back without water!
We had to drive a few hours further along Gibb River and another 45km off the track to reach Belle Gorge. Belle is said to be the most famous of all the Gibb River gorges and usually the busiest. There were no cars except Hercules when we arrived late in the afternoon. We found the path to the gorge was much more enjoyable and scenic. Surpassing the rugged cliffs is a beautiful waterfall cascading down layers of cliffs into a deep cool pool. We were content to swim in the cool water and lounge on the rocks surrounding the pool until sunset drove us out of the gorge.
Again, Stacy and I had the entire gorge to ourselves!
We saw no one all day except for this cute little critter, we guess a cousin to the roo family?