Thursday, 3 August 2017

Emma Gorge in The Kimberley: There is something you need to know!

Emma Gorge Pool
Have you ever been to Emma Gorge? Only an hour's drive from Kununurra in Western Australia's Kimberley region, it is one of the easiest gorges to get to and one of the prettiest - but there is something you need to know. Before you start imagining yourself floating alone in a perfect rock pool under the southern sky, revelling in the warm waters of the Australian outback (it never gets cold in Australia - right!) consider this. Emma Gorge Pool is deep, very deep - and it is in a gorge. The red rock cliffs surrounding the water hole are 65m high - much of the pool never sees the sunshine. All this means that stunning as it looks, Emma Gorge Pool is cold, very cold - icy is a word which comes to mind.


David doesn't swim. He can swim. He just doesn't. I, on the other hand, am drawn to water wherever I find it. Unless it is likely to be inhabited by man eating crocodiles, and sometimes even then (Did you read my post on Would you go swimming with a crocodile?), whenever I come across a body of water the first thing I want to do is get my gear off and dive in.

For once however David got it right. Our Emma Gorge trail fact sheet said the water temperature varies between 15⁰C and 25⁰C - yeah right! On the day we visited, I estimate it was just marginally above freezing. Two minutes after plunging in I turned blue, then purple, then I think I just went numb because I quite enjoyed it after that. And don't let anyone fool you with the line that there is a thermal spring which seeps through the rock on the far right hand side and warms up the water around it. It doesn't! If it does, the extra warmth is so marginal I couldn't feel it. Perhaps I was so anesthetized by then it didn't register.

Emma Gorge Pool
Emma Gorge Pool

There is one other thing about Emma Gorge - you won't be alone. Like Zebedee Springs, Emma Gorge has been discovered. We arrived at the pool about 12.30 p.m., having hiked for about an hour to reach it. Although we passed a few other people on the way, most of them were on their return leg. I was quietly confident that having chosen (foolishly) to attack the gorge in the heat of the midday sun we might have the place to ourselves - not a chance! The pool was like Pitt Street on a Saturday morning with people everywhere. Just finding a spot to spread out my towel was a challenge. Word had obviously got around about how cold the water was though, because there were a lot more people clambering around the rocks at the edge of the pool than in the actual water. Once I took the plunge I more or less got the place to myself.

Emma Gorge Pool
Notice from the photo above this one how most of the people aren't actually in the water!

Fast Facts and My Tips:


Where is Emma Gorge?

Emma Gorge is an hour's drive from Kununurra in Western Australia's Kimberley region. 

How do you get there?

You can reach the gorge by ordinary car. Unlike Zebedee Springs, Chamberlain Gorge and Amalia Gorge you shouldn't need a 4WD. The road from Kununurra is sealed, including the first part of the Gibb River Road, until you get to the Emma Gorge turn-off. From the turn-off it is a couple of kilometres on a good dirt road.  Just before the car park we had to negotiate a small body of water. I was glad we had a 4WD but I don't think it was absolutely necessary.

Can you stay at the gorge?

Yes. Emma Gorge Resort has what they describe as 'safari-style tented cabins with en-suites'.

Emma Gorge cabins
Emma Gorge cabins. We didn't stay at Emma Gorge so I can't tell you what they were like inside. They didn't seem to have much in the way of ventilation which makes me wonder whether they are hot.


How long does the walk take?

Without stopping for photos or having a swim at the end, the walk takes about two hours for the round trip. 

How difficult is the walk?

Some sections of the walk involve scrambling up and over large rocks. It isn't difficult but if you are old or infirm this isn't the walk for you.

The trickiest bit is staying on the trail. The trail is signposted by small blue triangular flashes attached to the occasional rock. It is easy to lose sight of them. At one point on the return leg we failed to notice the trail crossed to the other side of Emma Creek. On our side of the creek the boulders got harder and harder to negotiate until we realised we must have gone wrong somewhere. David slipped and, unusually for him, got a bit stressed but we back-tracked, found the trail and no real harm was done. Unlike our much more frightening experience getting lost at  Amalia Gorge we had plenty of daylight left.

Emma Gorge Creek
Emma Gorge Creek. We crossed this several times on the walk.


Are there crocodiles in the pool?

No. There are two swimming holes: Turquoise Pool, about 200 metres from the end of the trail, and Emma Gorge Pool where the trail finishes. As far as I know there are no crocodiles in either pool so you can enjoy the water without worrying about being eaten. Have you read my post on Amalia Gorge: Would you go swimming with a crocodile?

The Turquoise Pool, about 200 metres before Emma Gorge Pool, was in the sunshine so the water was probably warmer. We pressed on to swim in the icy, but stunning, waters of Emma Gorge Pool.


What do you need to take?

Take plenty of water as well as a hat and sunscreen. This is outback Australia - the sun is hot and unforgiving.

You will also need an El Questro Visitor Permit. A day permit costs $12 for each adult. You can pick up a permit at Emma Gorge Resort next to the car park. While you are there grab an Emma Gorge Trail Fact Sheet. This has numbered paragraphs corresponding to signs along the trail which tell you a bit about the walk.

Would I recommend Emma Gorge?

Absolutely! The scenery is lovely on the walk and stunning once you get to the end with its towering red-rock walls.


Click on the links below for my previous posts on the Kimberley region: -

Click on the links below for posts on the Coral Coast and  south-west of Western Australia, from Perth to Esperence:- 

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Emma Gorge



42 comments:

  1. Oh this looks stunning - what a beautiful place for a swim. Relieved to hear there are no crocs. It looks idyllic #FarawayFiles

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  2. Too bad it has been discovered, but I can really see why. It's beautiful up there. I think I like the red rocks even better than the waterfall.
    #FarawayFiles

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    1. The red rocks are fabulous. There are waterfalls all over the world but not that many places you can see such stunning red rocks towering above you.

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  3. Looks like an amazing swimming hole, even if you have to share the views! #FarawayFiles

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    1. I didn't really mind sharing the view. It was stunning.

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  4. The water looks stunning! However, I don't do icy cold water, so I would just be admiring from the shore. #farawayfiles

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    1. Haha - I know what you mean but it was actually a lot of fun surviving the plunge.

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  5. I think I would go for the walk and not the icy cold water. The water does look very clear.

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    1. You could have kept David company on the rocks!

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  6. it looks amazing! I used to swim in very cold waters as a child, so I would give it a try :)

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    1. I got used to it after a while. It was certainly refreshing - lol!

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  7. Haha, how many people were at the pool when you visited?! Funny, thing in the Aussie outback your can feel so isolated at times when exploring then all of a sudden be surrounded by stacks of other adventures. I love your photos... Annette #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. I know what you mean. We are in the Coral Coast right now. Today we drove for hundreds and hundreds of mile and hardly saw another soul. It was amazing.

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  8. There are a lot of people there even though the water is freezing. I would be fine walking around, taking pictures and siting around. I cannot swim so a deep pool freaks me out. Plus, I do not think I can do that water temperature. After all, I am from the Caribbean. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. It was really bracing but lots of fun too. I can't imagine what it would be like not to be able to swim. I grew up at the beach and swimming was a bit like walking - you just learned to do it.

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  9. What an amazing watering hole! I've always wanted to visit such a place! Glad to hear there aren't any crocodiles there! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
    (www.caliglobetrotter.com)

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    1. You should come to Australia and see the Kimberley. It will blow your mind.

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  10. I think I'd take a dip in there - just to say I had. It would be quite refreshing after such a beautiful walk. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

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    1. There was a large element of 'just to say I had' in my decision to take the plunge - lol!

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  11. That's stunning - the colour of the water!

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    1. Have you ever been to The Kimberley? The whole region is just beautiful.

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  12. Firstly, thank God there are no crocodiles in the water pools! Even if there are fresh-water crocodiles, I wouldn't even dare to dip my toe in the water haha..Your photos of Emma Gorge are beautiful - I can imagine how freezing it must be - no wonder most people hang out at the edge of the water rather than immersing themselves in the middle of the water. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Haha - People do swim with freshwater crocodiles, sometimes, but I am definitely not one of them.

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  13. Wow! It looks like a stunning place - and I am always drawn to water - but I'm not sure I could do it. Of course, if I traveled all the way there I would have to. I've slid down a rock in the mountains into one of the coldest pools I've ever been in and I've swam - ok, really just put my feet in - in the Atlantic in Maine when it was very cold. But they both sound warmer than Emma Gorge. Guess I'd just have to summon the courage and do it!

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    1. I was warned about how cold the water was before I went in but as you say I 'had travelled all that way'. The Kimberley region is remote even for someone like me who lives in Australia so I knew if I didn't go in I may never get another chance.

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  14. I think the turquoise pool looks beautiful, too. I love the contrast with the rocks. I am usually a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold water, but after a walk and in the heat of the day I might be persuaded. Sometimes you just have to go for it!

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  15. Lyn, Photos are gorgeous! Like you, I would be in the water. A gorgeous watering hole is too hard to resist for me and especially during a hot hike! Tom, like David, doesn't go in the water but he does swim. As you know, he will go in to scuba dive though. Sorry we missed this area on our 2 months in Australia. Sounds like our kind of hike. If we ever come back, we'll go. Thanks!

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    1. The thing about Australia is, as you know, it is so big. You saw a lot more than most people on your trip. It would have been the wet season when you were in northern Australia. I doubt you could have even go through to Emma Gorge at that time of year.

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  16. It looks beautiful, but I have plenty of cold water at home in Minnesota, so I think I'll stick with the others on the beach if I ever get to the Kimberly!

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  17. I am not a fan of being in water, but love being near it or on it, so this was a great tour for this landlubber! Beautiful photos!

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    1. I am a real water baby. I love to look at water but enjoy diving into it even more.

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  18. Emma Gorge Pool looks absolutely amazing! It will definitely be on my wish list when I visit Western Australia.

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  19. Well it looks absolutely beautiful! We are water babies, too, but tend to stay out of the really cold stuff - being born of tropic and hot desert areas. I think we'd be perfectly happy on the shore with the (sensible) crowds. ;)) Sure looks worth the work, even if you don't go for a dip. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard and #WeekendWanderlust!

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    1. The weather was wonderfully warm which made the water look inviting = even if it was freezing.

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  20. I, like you, would be in the water. And Tom, like David, would be viewing from ashore. Emma Gorge looks very cool!

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    1. Haha. David and I are now in Coral Bay and the same thing is happening, although here the water is a lot warmer.

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  21. I, like David, love to look at the water, but rarely get in. I admire you for giving it a go though especially since it was so cold!! Your photos certainly relay how beautiful it is and why the hike is well worth it!

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    1. David grew up next to the beach in Sydney so he has no excuse for not being a water baby. It should have been a game-breaker when we first met but after 33 years I have got used to his aversion to swimming - lol!

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