Karijini National Park, nestled in the Hammersley Ranges in the heart of the Pilbara. That means it is made out of this stuff…like the rest of the surrounding hillsides!
It is yet again another beautiful place, where the harsh Australian landscape surprises with hidden beauty. The beautiful gorges and pools found in Karijini NP are more hidden than you might think. Unlike many of the other gorges we’ve visited, such as the MacDonnell Ranges and the Bungle Bungles which tower above the surrounding landscape, these gorges seem hidden within the surrounding landscape – you may not even realise they are there till you stumble close to the edge…
We arrived around the middle of the day, Thursday 18th, and set up camp at Dales Campground in what is referred to as the Dales Recreation Area. Though the park is large (second largest NP in WA), the tourist stuff is all concentrated in two smallish areas – the Dales Recreation Area and Weano Recreation Area, which are about 50km’s apart. After a rest, we set off around mid arvo to explore the Dales area.
The park information brochures are a bit weirdly done, so not easy to follow. Track gradings and time estimates are done in a typical NP conservative manner, but all the walks and pools were linked so I figured we should be able to do the area in one walk (the actual distances aren’t large). That we did easily enough, and with time for some nice swims and photography. Morning sun would have been better for photographing two of the major pools however, so we went back early Friday morning for more swimming and photography. Here are the photos from the Dales area (taken either Thurs arvo and Fri morning).
From Fortescue Falls, it is a short walk up to the Fern Pool. A beautiful place…
It was then a class 4 walk down Dales Gorge. Such a contrast here:
Then we come across the Circular Pool…
Mid Friday morning we headed over to the Weano area. There is a direct road between the two, but it is dirt and heavily corrugated so we did the longer trip back to the main road and around. The final 13km’s is dirt anyway, but we (or more correctly, the motorhome) survived that.
There are a few gorges and walks in the Weano area, and we started with the walk to Kermits Pool in Hancock Gorge. This was a cat 5 rated track, the hardest the NP lets you do without requiring qualifications or expert guides. Not surprisingly it wasn’t that difficult really, but it was a fun walk. The boys thought the spider walk section was great, and we could jump off the rocks into Kermits pool. The rock walls and formations in the gorge are great.
Though the temperatures were in the 30’s, we were quite comfortable walking in the middle of the day. Probably in part due to spending some time down in the gorges, which are cooler, but also I think we’ve become fairly acclimatised to the hotter northern parts of Australia!
Then it was off to do the Weano Gorge itself, both the upper and lower walks in one. Heading to the upper area, it isn’t that obvious where the gorge itself is (see second photo in this post)!! Once you get down into the gorge it starts off fairly wide, but as you go further downstream it narrows and deepens. More walking through water with beautiful cliff’s either side.
The gorge opens up to a largish pool at the ‘handrail’, where we went for a swim. The boys and I also explored a little further downstream (goes tunnel like again), which was pretty cool (though I didn’t take the camera), and freezing cold!! Safety/authorisation only signs prevented us going further into even more interesting look areas though…
Even the smaller rocks/gravel in this area can have a bit of a hard metallic tinkle sound to them when you walk around on them (this is iron ore country, what iron/steel is made from; not that it’d be correct to call the rocks metallic…). In one area of this gorge there were piles of thicker slabs of this rock to walk across, and they were a bit wobbly. These also caused that same tinkle noise, to which Jonathan aptly remarked that we were making ‘rock music’! Just a more natural and peaceful sort than the more widely listened to version!!! This version is most fitting/suitable for a NP….
View from the nearby Oxer Lookout, where 4 gorges in the Weano area meet.
Well that’s it for Karijini NP! We didn’t get to Hamersley George (looong way on dirt roads) or Kalamina Gorge (also a drive on dirt), but had a fun time and saw most of the attractions. On the way out, there is Mt Bruce – the second highest peak in WA!! Doesn’t look that high, but it is ‘starting’ from an elevated range. The highest peak in WA is also around here.