The Kimberley boasts some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world – from its vast red dirt to its awe-inspiring gorges, it’s a place that is at once varied, magical and untamed.
Within the iconic (celebrity favourite) El Questro Wilderness Park, Zebedee Springs is a particularly special destination, and luckily it’s one of the park’s more accessible landmarks.
What is it?
While we can be guilty of only associating the Kimberley with vibrant red dirt and wide open skies, there are also pockets of dense, tropical vegetation – particularly surrounding the spectacular swimming holes and dramatic gorges.
Amongst sheer cliffs and prehistoric palms, Zebedee Springs are a tiered series of hot springs and waterfalls, fed from deep underground reservoirs and brought to the surface via ancient fault lines. The spring water is warmed by the hot rock deep within the earth’s crust, meaning that the pools stay a toasty 28 to 32 degrees Celsius year-round.
Where is it?
The springs are found within El Questro Wilderness Park – 700,000 acres of magnificent, unspoilt rugged Kimberley landscape. Near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, El Questro’s vast terrain is spread across two groups of Traditional Owners, with the northern part of the park on Wilinggin Country, and the southern portion (where Zebedee Springs are found), on Nyaliga Country.
The park itself is located along the Gibb River Road, 120km west of Kununurra. If you’re Beyoncé-level luxe (or you just like to arrive in style) you can arrange to arrive at the park via chopper or plane – but if you’re on a stricter budget, 4WD is the best route. 2WDs can also access the property, however there are two rocky water crossings that can be up to 500mm deep, so be prepared that you may have to park and walk the remaining 300 metres to the Emma Gorge Resort (which is 30 minutes drive from El Questro Station). If you haven’t got wheels or wings, there are also scheduled transfers from Kununurra town centre and airport twice a day.
Zebedee Springs are approximately 15 minutes’ drive from the Station, with an easy 750m walk from the carpark through towering Livistona palms – just be careful on any slippery rocks as you approach the pools! The springs are accessible by 2WD, you can also get there directly from Kununurra.
What to do?
The springs are extremely popular, so we recommend either arriving when gates open at 7am, or booking in for a guided tour in the afternoon. Open to the public between 7am and 12pm (although they will restrict entry numbers if there are too many cars arriving), the afternoons are reserved for Homestead guests and guided tours – if you’re really lucky, you might happen to get a few minutes with just you and the pools.
You’ll need a Visitor Permit to visit any sites within El Questro: seven day passes are $22 per adult and $11 for kids between 5 and 15 (ages 4 and under are free), or day passes are $12 for adults and $5 for children. If you’re staying at the park, these permits will be automatically added when you book through the El Questro website, but if you’re arriving for a day trip you can purchase your permits at reception.
Once you’ve made it to the springs, you can soak all your worries away in the relaxing, warm water!
What not to do:
You can only visit during dry season – which runs between May and September. During the monsoonal wet season, flooding cuts off access to many locations, and many visitor-oriented services are closed.
While we’re big on being sun safe, in order to keep the pristine marine ecosystem of the springs in tact, this probably the only time we’ll tell you not to wear sunscreen!
As with all visits to our natural spaces, adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles: meaning don’t leave any rubbish out there, don’t pick wildflowers and try your best to look after the surrounding area. Make sure you also adhere to any fire restrictions or bans that might be in place, and follow instructions given by guides or signage.
El Questro is a strict no drone zone, with heaps of helicopters and small aircrafts flying overhead – so as tempting as it is to capture the stunning landscapes from above… Don’t do it!
Header Image Credit: Shutterstock / Matt Cornish