Before we hit the road on our recent trip around Western Australia, we were asking around for some must visits in the state. One comment we kept on hearing was ‘Karijini, you have to go there’ ‘if you go nowhere else go to Karijini’ and so on. Well of course we had to put this place high on our list, and oh did it not disappoint!
Where Is it?
Karijini National Park is pretty much ages away from anywhere populated. Located in the Pilbara region it is around 1500km from Perth and a whopping 2800km from Darwin, however there are
many small towns to explore along the journey. Tom Price, a prominant iron ore mining town is the closest which is small, but has a supermarket, fuel station and a few other stores.
The park itself is centred on the Hamersley Range and is the second largest National Park in WA. The main features of this park and the draw card for all its visitors are the deep and magical slot canyons that fall away into the relatively flat the landscape.
We had allowed 1 and a half days to explore here as our trip was on a tight schedule but we could have easily spent many more.
There are many gorges and walks in the park but the highlight of the area for us was Hancock Gorge.
Graded as a level 5 for experienced bushwalkers which made us think twice (and we are very experienced bushwalkers), but I can understand why National Parks has given it this grade as there is an abundance of the older generations out on the road, and the walk has its dangers for the unfit or those lacking coordination.
Hancock Gorge is absolutely spectacular. It is a steep walk down to the bottom of the canyon and as you follow the water downstream the walls get higher and closer together. There is a bit of wading through shallow water, then you get the option to get more wet (chest height/swimming if you are short) or you can skirt the deeper parts around the rocky edges (be careful as it can be quite slippery).
Eventually the walls get less than a meter apart at the Spider walk, where as the name suggests you walk with your hands and feet out on the walls and make your way down to the end of the tourist walk at Kermit’s Pool. The Pool is beautiful and makes for some great swimming and jumping if you are that way inclined. This marks the end of the tourist canyon, at the edge of the pool there is a chain just before the water plummets over a waterfall.
The whole canyon is very picturesque and there are many photo ops along the way.
There are two options for camping in Karijini. One option is to stay in the Karijini Eco Retreat, where they offer Glamping style eco tents and unpowered campsites. There is also a restaurant and a kiosk.
We chose to stay at the Dales Gorge Campsite as it was cheaper and we were self sufficient, it was also closer to Dales Gorge that we wanted to check out the next day.
Run by National Parks it was large and basic with semi private sites. The toilets here were drop toilets, but they were clean and well maintained.
As a quick note: Please be careful and heed the warning signs. If you are not sure of your abilities choose an easier walk. As you will see on most of the signage, do not go in rain or if there is a forecast for rain. People have died.
Even though Karijini is a long distance from lets face it everywhere, it is well worth the trip. It a paradise for so many outdoor recreation activities, that for adventurous people it just must be on the list.
Have fun be safe, I know for sure that one day I will go back.