After our stay at El Questro Station, a highly commercialised establishment focused on the creature comforts of home, we sighed with relief as we pulled into Ellenbrae Station.
Located about 230 kilometres west of Kununurra along the Gibb River Road, or 70 kilometres east of the intersection with the Kalumburu Road you’ll know you’re getting close when you start to see the scones with jam and cream signs enticing your taste buds.
We turn into the dusty driveway complete with a small water crossing for some fun, and we past by the ‘Ringers’ and ‘Jilleroo’ campgrounds before entering the main homestead gates. A couple of the free range cattle laze under the shady trees, while a makeshift grader made from a large trye and old chains, sits at the ready to be hooked up to a vehicle and smooth out the driveway.
Chooks cluck in the nearby pen, while a memorial to the two young Terry brothers, Thomas and Edward, originally from Queensland, who started to bring life back to the rundown station in the early 80s before they were both killed in separate accidents; first Thomas in an aircraft crash, while Edward died in a motorbike accident on his way to Lake Argyle.
Today, the lower prices for cattle and the high cost to muster them and get them to market from this isolated part of the world, just hasn’t made it worthwhile to sell stock. But now five years on, the wild and free-range cattle roam the property and fend for themselves. The cattle prices have come up and this year several head of cattle will be heli-mustered and sent to market.
Back at the actual homestead we walk through an archway to a glorious oasis in the desert. Green grass, lush gardens and shady trees surround the original old rock homestead. To one side is the bathroom, with only three walls. That’s right, the bath side of the building is open to the back of the garden and overlooks the creek running through the back of the homestead. Talk about a rustic bathroom complete with million dollar views! But this is just for the property managers to enjoy.
We are warmly welcomed into the home and main living area of Ellenbrae by property managers, Larissa and Logan. Today it is still the kitchen and living area and now houses the ‘reception’ desk.
We head back down the road to set up camp at the ‘Ringers’ campground. We collect firewood and get the campfire going for marshmallow toasting – much the delight of D-Man. Red enjoys the ‘raw’ marshmallows as we can’t be bothered cleaning up the sticky mess he makes with the ‘cooked’ ones.
But we needed have worried too much about the mess as we could have cleaned him up in a proper bath. Hands down, the bush bathroom here at Ellenbrae is the best we have encountered! The old washroom comes complete with old bathtub. The garden hose pumps hot creek water into the tub and the boys love splashing about. The water is heated via a wood fired donkey-heater. D-Man was super intrigued at the fire and followed the pipes from the creek, to the heater and into the bathroom. The Husband and I loved the bath too, as we finally get to shower sans Red in our arms. Bath time for Red is such a pain at campgrounds – read all about how we manage it here.
The next morning we take a walk from the campground along the creek back to the homestead to enjoy morning tea of those scrumptious scones, complete with Chantilly cream too!
So many people simply stop in for the scones, but we reckon an overnight stay here provides a great opportunity to stay on a ‘real’ working station; one that hasn’t smoothed out the rough edges for the tourists.