The East Kimberley covers about 200, 000 square km’s of Western Australia and is one of the most remote areas pf the country. This is rugged ranges and escarpment country. Waterfalls, gorges, river crossings, and somewhere out there is coastline as well. It’s remote stations and hidden aboriginal culture. It’s big sky, and intense heat. And we’re driving straight into the heat of it. On the iconic Gibb River Rd.
This is Australia’s frontier country … The Kimberleys. Crossing the Pentecost River and looking back at THAT view was amazing. And we’re hungry for more!
All heart – Home Valley Station
Their glasses are raised high. Their hats tipped at such an angle that I marvel they are still perched atop their heads. Their shirts worn soft with sun and sweat. Their laugh is loud and lusty. There are 8 of them in total. Nuggety, handsome, ageless blokes and one healthy, happy sheila. They’re toasting the end of a busy season mustering stock and tourists. They are Home Valley Station staff, enjoying a quiet moment together at sunset by the Dusty Bar and Grill.
Tim, one of the station staff tells us later that it’s been a long one, but he’s loved it. Thrives on it. He’s energised by the people he meets and the animals he cares for. Including Timmy the pony, who the Squids equally fall for as Tim harnesses Timmy up and takes them out for a sulky ride.
He’s impressed that in the heart of cattle country our squid called Clancy is keen to hop on a horse. Coincidentally Tim’s horse also a Clancy. The name, like the region, is as iconic as they come.
This is Australia. The place and the movie!
Baz Luhrmann and his production company selected much of this area to film his blockbuster “Australia” here with the Cockburn Ranges and the Pentecost River as stunning backdrops. My guess is a number of the locals we are drinking near were probably riders in the film as well.
Home Valley Station (HV8) is a working station and an Indigenous employment and training station. It was bought in 1999 by Indigenous Land Corporation on behalf of the Balangarra people, the area’s traditional owners.
From hospitality and admin staff, to horse riding tours and stock handling – this level of indigenous opportunity and connection adds a very different layer to the experience.
And one which in my opinion makes it a far more authentic and Aussie experience compared with the renowned El Questro station back along the Gibb.
We’ve set the camper up in the top campground (it’s hot, we’ve got Squids, it’s closer to the pool!) instead of the bush camp down by the River. It also affords us a bucolic view of guided horse treks coming and going, the odd chopper heading out for sightseeing and access to some hardy and happy-go-lucky staff.
We arrive with our first flat tyre of the trip and a swag of endless Gibb River fire update questions.
The HV8 staff are obliging, offering local tips, accommodating with mechanic assistance to repair the flat and jollying the squids along when they hear them grumble. The amenities for campers are clean and easy to access, and the sites grassy. The Station is far superior in its accommodating kids than anything else we encounter for ages – a covered playground, a giant chess board, a swimming pool and the sulky rides. These features don’t detract from the shades of honest, hospitable Australiana that HV8 offers.
The artistic wrought iron gate entering the property is in the shape of a boab with the welcoming aboriginal proverb etched into it:-
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. “
We’ve had a beautiful time at HV8, using it as our camping base to explore this section of the Gibb River – we are so glad we passed through Home Valley.
We’ve got our track access info, fire updates and road condition reports all up to speed, we’ve taken a day trip to smoky El Questro nearby and a dip in Zebedee Springs (other tracks were closed) and we’re off to experience more of the Gibb River Rd tomorrow.