Captivating Karijini

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, August 14, 2011

We were excited to be heading inland and deep into the Pilbara. We had a new audio book to listen to and placed the first CD into the car stereo. As the story started to unfold we listened intently, all the time admiring the passing countryside.

We had not been prepared for the splendid natural beauty of this area.  We were headed for Tom Price and Karijini National Park knowing that Karijini would provide us with spectacular scenery, we just weren't expecting the drive to be so scenic.  The roadway was bordered with the most gorgeous wildflowers, it looked like a team had painstakingly planted them all, such was their consistency.

Our eyes drifted from the natural flowerbeds along the side of the road, splendid with their tones of purple, yellow and the occasional red, over the spinifex and snappy gums up to the bold crops of red rock which reached into the clear blue sky. Oh, how we love the colours of the Pilbarra.

On route to Tom Price we camped overnight by a dry creek bed under the shade of the most exquisite gum trees, their smooth silver trunks complemented by the green leaves brought to life as the rays of sunlight filtered through, this was the Australian bush at its best. We drifted off to sleep with the faint sound of dingoes howling in the distance and an occasional cow making their presence known.

We stopped in Paraburdoo for a coffee before arriving in Tom Price and checking into the only caravan park.  Whilst the park itself was old and dated, it was set in the shadow of Mount Nameless and the outlook was spectacular.  As the light projected onto the rich red rock of the mountain it produced the most stunning display of colour.

I had been particularly excited when Rod had organized a Wine Tour not having expected there to be any vineyards in this harsh, hot and dry environment.  It was not until we had to don hard hats and safety glasses that I realised there had been a breakdown in communication and it was in fact a Mine Tour!  Just kidding… was a tour that had been recommended and we were keen to see the resource boom close up.

It was interesting to be taken inside the mining area and watch the machinery at work, hear the numbers and get an understanding for the industry that rules the Pilbara. (I still think a piccolo of Sparkling wouldn't have gone astray!)

Tom Price itself is a nice town, well laid out and offers the basic necessities.  We lucked in with a team of final year Chiropractic students in town to give free consultations and treatments.  Both Rod and I got some adjustments and felt all the better for it.

We drove out to Karijini and settled into a campsite at Dale’s Campground in Euro Loop.  The national park campground was well set up with large expanses of bushland between each site.  It was a short walk over to Dale’s Gorge and it wasn’t long before we were hiking around the rim admiring Circular Pools.

We took the steep pathway down deep into the gorge to Fortescue Falls.  It was stunning; the rock ledges stepped naturally down into the pool below like an amphitheatre.  The fresh water cascading down these ledges in a small section created a stunning centerpiece.  As the sun shone down into the gorge against the east wall the water glistened and the pool below radiated a hue of green.

We continued further along the base of the gorge to Fern Pool where Rod could not resist the urge to take the plunge and lower himself into this inviting body of water.  He swam across to one of the two waterfalls and sat on the ledge underneath enjoying the warmth of that water as it came cascading down before meeting the cooler water of the rock pool below.

On day two we drove out to the Weano Gorge area where four gorges all merge together.  We enjoyed a walk down to the base, again just in awe of the size and shape of these gorges carved out over millions of years.  The light overhead changing the outlook as it moved slowly across the sky. 

It was so tranquil sitting by the water’s edge in Weano Gorge.  Rod once again took the plunge into the rock pool whilst I cooled off by dangling my feet in this pristine mountain water.  We sat there watching people make the steep descent down into the gorge, the rich red rock contrasting once again against the azure blue sky, the lush winter greenery and the stark white trunks of the Snappy Gums.

We dragged ourselves back up out of Weano Gorge and enjoyed lunch before deciding to walk over to Hancock Gorge.  All the walking tracks are rated 1 to 6, 1 being easiest and 6 involving abseiling.  The walk into Hancock Gorge started as a rating 4 and then progressed to a 5 before eventually becoming a 6.  We decided to walk for as long as we felt comfortable.

We are so glad that we did for this became the highlight of our Karijini experience.  It was a steep climb down over loose red rocks and we were pleased to see a couple of solid ladders had been installed for the last drop into the gorge. 

At the base of the gorge we continued along, at points easing our way along narrow rock faces above water, the rock faces had such a beautiful smooth hand feel.  With water gushing between these walls for millions of years the rock faces had become polished and also offered a nice cool relief from the heat of the afternoon sun.

Eventually we got to a point where the ledge above the water had ended and it was time to wade through water, not being dressed for the occasion I stayed at the end of this body of water whilst Rod (ever in his boardies) continued on to the end where it dropped further down into a slim long pool.

The stillness of the gorge seemed to instill such a calmness in us as we sat and enjoyed the surroundings.  Again the sun was moving across the sky overhead so the colours up the walls of the gorge were ever changing.  Whilst the top of the gorge was rich with red rock, here at the base it was more of a slate like colour, the texture and patterns built up over so many years were intriguing.

All good things must come to an end and we made our way back up out of the gorge.  Back on the road we stopped at several other gorges and admired them from the lookouts before heading back to our campsite.

We had encountered a strange and foul odour throughout the night and in the light of day found it to be a leaking gas bottle.  Having swapped it over the previous day we were now effectively out of gas. (One bottle empty and the other leaking)  It was a return trip of about 200kms to replace it, so having accomplished all that we wanted to at Karijini we decided to push on.

Once again the drive back toward the coast was breathtaking.  We stopped to admire the Munjina Gorge before pulling into the Auski Roadhouse to refill the gas bottle.  Having one operable gas bottle again we were able to continue on to stay at Indee Station.

A working cattle station about 70kms South East of Port Hedland, it was an ideal stop over for us.  We drew to a stop out the front of the homestead mid afternoon and when we went in to enquire about a site for the night they offered us a cup of tea and homemade biscuits.  A delightful country welcome!

We were invited back to the homestead for happy hour which is held in the homestead at the long dining table every evening between 5.30 and 6.30pm.  They kindly supply some nibbilies and guests just bring their drinks. It was so delightful that we decided to spend another night and drive into Port Hedland for the day.

A serious shipping port, we enjoyed our day in Port Hedland watching the massive Iron Ore Ships pass through the narrow channel at the end of the main street to load up and head off to Asia.  There was constant traffic along the waterway and an occasional helicopter overhead.

Back at Indee Station we enjoyed another happy hour in the homestead, waking the next morning to the sound of cattle requesting their feed.  It was time to pack up and head back to the coast having had an amazing inland Pilbara experience.

Highlights of inland Pilbara:

-          The stunning landscape throughout the Pilbara

-          Karijini National Park

o   Fern Pools

o   Stunning gorges – Oxer Lookout

o   Weano Gorge and the pool at the base

o   Hancock Gorge walk

-          Indee station stay
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Kaz on

Seriously - is the weather ever shit up there??? xxx

barrythepug on

any crocs in those waters?

Val S. on

Can life get any better????????

Browns on

The weather is fabulous all of the time!
No crocs at the inland gorges... mind you north now and crocs abound so no more kayaking for a while!
And no, life can not get any better we are loving every moment of every day and cherish it all.

Dave and Merle on

We are increasingly jealous and not just because of the carrots. If you are anywhere near Newman watch out for a grey bearded Scotsman by the name of Bill Wilkie.

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