If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see. Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara. Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip. I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind. We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things. Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none. I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.
We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini. Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough. We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware. As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through. This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.
We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights. Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.
DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL
Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge. This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool. As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails. For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them. I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe. As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland. The kids loved it. After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’! And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?
HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK
HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL
After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge. We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids. If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.
On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground. We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation. This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts. In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.
DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL
We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip. It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers. Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.