Enjoy soothing thermal waters of Zebedee Springs in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Another reason to add El Questro onto your road trip itinerary!
**Please note, this article has been re-shared across from my other travel blog which I share with my partner. Visit www.DirtyDrifters.com.au to read more about our 2018 road trip around Australia.
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Our sunburnt country boasts some fascinating thermal spring hotspots, with Zebedee Springs in Western Australia being at least in Australia’s Top 5, in our humble opinion.
Zebedee Springs is a permanent, natural thermal spring found in El Questro Wilderness Park in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. If you are not familiar with El Questro, it is a well-known West Australian destination that encompasses more than 1 million acres of untamed natural beauty and unique landscape you will not find anywhere else in Australia, or for that matter, the world.
With no active volcano activity in Australia, Zebedee Springs is fed via a fault line from a permanent supply of water deep within the Earth, giving it a constant water temperature of 28-32 degrees Celsius all year round. Large, green and lush Livistona and Pandanus palms brush the clear waters here, with spectacular 1800 million-year-old cliff faces and scree slopes (known as ‘King Leopold Sandstone’) surrounding the springs. This is all thought to have originated as far as New Guinea.
And it’s not just humans that like it here either. Recent scientific research has discovered a rare, ancient aquatic isopod crustacean (a white crab-like creature) living in the water here, the only place in the world where this isopod is found. I wonder what other rare creatures live and thrive in abundance here? There is much more to this beautiful place than what meets the eye.
Zebedee Springs is a remarkable natural attraction for visitors staying at or passing through El Questro and for that, it is incredibly popular and busy. Read on for our personal experience of the place and get the insider tips.
After several days of driving along Western Australia’s iconic Gibb River Road to get to El Questro, we were very much looking forward to escaping the dusty and dry outback for Zebedee Spring’s warm and welcoming tropical oasis. Even more so after a rock hit our air suspension near the end of the Gibb, which Adam thankfully resolved temporarily until a part got flown into the nearby town of Kununurra.
After signing in at the El Questro front desk and registering our vehicle, we set up camp for the evening before making Zebedee Springs our priority numero uno visit for the following morning.
It is important to note that Zebedee Springs is closed to the public in the afternoon (apparently to reduce environmental impact), so you must plan your morning to visit. And a bonus tip – if you want to miss the onslaught of large tour buses that also arrive in the morning – may I suggest you get there very early (be at the gate just as it opens) so you get first dibs on prime real estate to lounge and bathe in! Be warned though – it gets fast busy and packed here!
Getting to the springs from the carpark is very easy. It is a Grade 2 walk trail and is only 600m return from the carpark. It is a mostly flat compacted terrain with some elevated sections and loose rocks. The track is well signposted and is suitable for most walkers with the estimated time required being 30 minutes (without the swim).
Arriving here truly makes you gasp and marvel at Western Australia’s landscape and how such a tropical oasis even exists in the dry outback. At Zebedee Springs, the naturally heated water gently cascades down on rock culverts to form various size pools as the stream descends. We really enjoyed our hot springs experience, amidst dense Livistona palms that are at the base of 1800 million years old cliff faces and scree slopes.
It was a soothing and relaxing experience… until Tahnee had her first encounter with a leech! After seeing one try to attach itself to her finger, she lept out of the water with incredible speed before jumping up and down -much to the amusement of the predominantly grey nomad on-lookers lounging around these natural pools.
Don’t let the idea of leeches deter you though, as they can apparently be avoided by going ‘higher up’ to the top pools.
For Your Safety at Zebedee Springs
Zebedee Springs is one of the easier natural attractions to get to in El Questro, being a short walk on flat terrain from the carpark. As such, it is a very popular and busy spot, especially with the Grey Nomads (mature-aged travellers with a caravan or motorhome) and those with limited fitness.
Despite the location being reasonably easy to get to and rather safe, freak accidents can still occur, so please take note of safety information. Wear adequate footwear, be aware of dangerous animals (freshwater crocodiles, snakes, spiders, and cattle), be aware of falling rocks, take with you sufficient drinking water and generally, be prepared with a first aid kit in your vehicle. You will find many signs in the top end that warn of freshwater crocodiles, and though the rangers do their utmost best to clear out the area before tourist season – croc’s can (but rarely) unexpectedly slip through.
Don’t be worried about croc’s though – you have more chances of slipping over and hitting your head – so do mind your step on rocks! The rocks at Zebedee Springs are very slippery (as they are algae-coated) with some being quite sharp, so take great care entering the water and be careful moving around the springs.
Also, be aware leeches do reside here, as Tahnee found out.
If you love natural places like Zebedee Springs and want to see them still open to the public for years and years to come, please do not wear sunscreen at Zebedee Springs. It pollutes the water and disrupts the marine ecosystem. Considering the springs is engulfed by a variety of giant palms and trees, it is very shady here and sunscreen is not needed.
We immensely enjoyed ourselves at Zebedee Springs in El Questro, splashing around, exploring the thermal rock pools, mingling with other travellers and taking seemingly hundreds of photographs.
Though it wasn’t the hottest of hot springs we encountered on our road trip (that award goes to Tjuwaliyn (Douglas) Hot Springs Park in Northern Territory – the water there was boiling), Zebedee Springs has a unique charm that we did not find elsewhere in Australia. There is something almost other-worldly about this outback gem, and while you lounge in the thermal springs amidst Jurassic-dated palms, you may also feel that deeper, spiritual connection to this wonderous place as we did.
Would we go back here? Absolutely. Plus, we loved that there were even more natural attractions to see and do while in El Questro afterward!
Your Stories and Comments?
**Please note, this article has been re-shared across from my other blog which I share with my partner. Visit www.DirtyDrifters.com.au to read more about our 2018 road trip around Australia.
We would love to hear our fellow travellers’ stories on their experiences at Zebedee Springs.
What did you think of the place? Or perhaps you are planning to visit Zebedee Springs and you would like further tips?