1st - 3rd August 2012 (Tom Price - Karijini National Park)

Published: August 10th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Days On The Road = 35

Wednesday 1st August 2012

Only a short trip today as we head from Tom Price into Karijini National Park and our three night stay in the bush. We are staying in the National Park at Dales Campgrounds which is just lovely but very busy. You can't book here so it's first in best dressed. Charles looks at all the different gorges in the park and sets about organising our next few days.

Two billion years in the making, Karijini National Park is one of the largest national parks and arguably one of the most spectacular in the State. Haunting in its rugged, red beauty and unbeatable for adventure, the park is famous for its natural attractions, sheer gorges, amazing hiking trails, waterfalls and cool swimming holes through ancient gorges.

Thursday 2nd August 2012

On the itinerary today is a walk through Dales Gorge, we set off on foot along a path near our campsite with plenty of water on board and off course our bathers on. We've heard that the swimming holes at the bottom of the gorge are spectacular, however, a little on the cool side.

We arrive at the gorge and look down from the Gorge Rim Walk lookout and see Circular Pool waiting for us at the bottom, we only have to navigate ourselves down the gorge rock face to get there. The terrain is not too bad and involves a loose steep descent which we all managed quite well. I think the gorges in Cape Range National Park gave the girls a good lead into how to manoeuvre themselves down and up difficult rock faces. We reach the bottom of the gorge to then walk along the base to Circular Pool. WOW, it is amazing and the colour of the water is pristine aqua and the contrast against the red gorge face was just breathtaking.

We touch the water and realise that was absolutely freezing as the pool only gets approximately two hours of sunlight a day. However, we didn't come this far to say we didn't go for a swim so off go the clothes and one, two, three we're in. Oh s**t it was colder than I thought, it was like swimming in ice cubes and my body was tingling and my heart rate was doing weird things, I think the body was in shock. There are warnings that say that hypothermia can occur so I take this into consideration and make sure that we don't stay in too long.

We then head along a four kilometre walk trail along the bottom of the gorge towards Fortesque Falls and Fern Pool stopping regularly to take in the magnificent scenery and ensure that our fluid levels are up. The girls are doing really well and are really enjoying the challenges of the gorge. We arrive at our last destination for the day, Fern Pool. It's now late afternoon and the sun is not high in the sky and sends the pool into shade, it's a lovely spot and just as magically as Circular Pool but Charles and I opt to not go in. The girls are another story and next minute they're in if only for a short while.

Feeling absolutely shattered and full of red dirt, courtesy of the Pilbara, we muster our way up the gorge face to the top and head home. I think we will sleep well tonight.

Friday 3rd August 2012

We awake ready for another wondrous adventure and venture deeper into the National Park. Today we're off to the Waeno Gorge area which is home to quite a few gorges. First stop was the Karijini Visitor Centre which is very interesting.

This impressive centre was opened in June 2001 and is operated in associated with DEC, by the local aboriginal people of Karijini. Within the centre there is information on natural and cultural history of the park. A range of static and interactive displays on geology, plants, animals, early settlers and Aboriginal people and their culture. There is also a sign with an aboriginal saying which I love.

Wirlankarra yanama. Yurlu nyinku mirda yurndarirda.


Go with a clear, open and accepting spirit, and the country will not treat you badly.

We then head off along a dirt track kicking up the red dust behind us for 29km to our first stop "Joffre Gorge". We opt only to walk to the lookout of this one as our big walk today will be Hancock Gorge.

Rock steps, took us down to Joffre Gorge lookout where we view the spectacular curved waterfall which formed a natural amphitheatre, which apparently is especially impressive after rain.

We then make our way only a short distance up the track to Knox Gorge lookout where we could watch the view spreadout into the distance, just amazing.

Onto the next gorge which is a further 17km up the track, Hancock Gorge. This gorge walk down to Kermit Pool is a Class 5 which is the highest class you can do without having a nationally recognised accreditation to abseil and climb on natural surfaces. All other walks we had done previously were only up to Class 4 so Charles and I were very mindful that we maynot be able to complete this walk in keeping the girls safe.

Hancock Gorge is a spectacular gorge and is one of the most difficult to explore but also the most rewarding. The extremely smooth rocks were very slippery and some narrow passes required careful and slow negotiation. After climbing down a ladder, we wandered into the gorge which narrows into a huge chamber and an attractive setting of small rocks pools and marbled walls.

We come to a section that requires us to either scale and crab walk along the edge of the gorge or wade through chest high water through a narrow passage which was the width of one arms width. We decide that the safest option would be to wade through the waters to the other side of the passage. We strip off to our bathers and leave our backpack and clothes behind but keep our walking shoes on so as to not cut our feet on the rock bed. The water was cool but nice and refreshing and the kids really enjoyed going through the passage which was sometimes deep in parts and required finger gripping onto the gorge wall.

The next section is just amazing with more pools of water, however, we weren't there yet. We had another obstacle to work through. This one was in sections, with each section dropping down to the next with running water and slippery rocks. The sign at the top of the gorge says that to move through this section you need to put one foot on one side of the gorge and one on the other and then move forward that way. Easier said than done! Especially with little people in tow. Charles is hesitating and thinking that this is too hard for the girls and that we won't be completing the rest of the walk to Kermit Pool. We couldn't actually see how far we had to go down this section so I decide to go and tackle this section on my own to see whether we could continue down with the girls. Thank goodness we were wearing our shoes as without them we wouldn't have been able to do this. After venturing down this section which wasn't as bad as it first appeared we slowly take the kids down to the next level.

We arrive at our destination "Kermit's Pool" which is just sensational. We had one more section to cover before we could see down to the bottom of the gorge "Regan's Pool". We had to swim across Kermit's Pool that was really deep so we sent Charles across first, with my eldest next, then my youngest who was abit nervous as it's not like swimming in a back yard swimming pool but she swam really well with a sigh of relief from me, my turn to swim across.

Regan's Pool was located beyond this point, named in memory of SES volunteer rescuer 'James Regan" who lost his life trying to save someone in the gorge. There's a sign to say to not proceed beyond this point or penalties will apply. It also says that rescues could take several hours and visitors may have to wait overnight to be rescued. This is the end of our trip down this gorge and we're chuffed at our achievements and now had to head back. Once we get to the top of the gorge it is late in the afternoon so we only have time to go and view a couple of other gorge lookouts.

Our next lookout is Junction Pool which had breathtaking views some 100m down into Hancock Gorge. This is where all four gorges meet. Just a short precarious walk down a narrow trail we come to Oxer Lookout which is an ancient uplifted seabed. Where we was standing was actually the sea floor over 2500 million years ago.

The sun is starting to move lower into the sky so we decide it's time to head back home. We were absolutely shattered but fuelled with excitement at what we had seen and done that day.

Watch out for the boulders..........................

I was sad to be thinking that we were moving out the next day as I just loved staying in the bush without any form of communication with the outside world. Back to Basics.

We're off to Onslow tomorrow but realise that we could have stayed in the national park for a whole week to cover the remainder of gorges that we hadn't explored yet. Another time.

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