I’m thankful to report that my fears of being disappointed as per my last post were unfounded and the hype surrounding the Pilbara and Karijini is most definitely deserved. Settle in with a cuppa and I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking…
Although my overall impression of the Pilbara was that it was red and dusty, the landscapes that greeted us on our drive out to Karijini were just stunning. The colour that hits the those rolling hills makes the range of the Karijini National Park come alive.
We checked into Dales Campground and with a bit of help from the camp host volunteers, ended up in the campsite next to our new friends Richard and Fiona and their two girls… #stalkers. But there wasn’t much time for sitting around when there was just so much to explore. So rather than read my ramblings, I’ll tell the story through pictures of each of the gorges we explored.
Dales Gorge incorporating Fortescue Falls, Fern Pools and Circular Pools.
This gorge was rated as a class 4 walk (out of 5) along the bottom and a class 3 walk along the top. We’ve not shied away from hard walks before so were keen to give it a go and so we made our way down to Fortescue Falls via the stairs.
We met a Ranger on the way in who warned us to keep our eyes open for snakes on the path – most likely the Olive Python or Mulga snake – as there were a few around.
The pictures definitely paint the picture much better than I can, although they don’t even come close to the real thing:
We did end up seeing a snake. Corey noticed it about a foot from his feet and picked Miss B up and got out of its way. Cutting us off, Miss A and I waited for the snake to cross the path, but instead of crossing the path and then continuing into the bushes, it decided to follow the path, and so it took around 10 minutes (and a backlog of about 15 other walkers) before we could get past it. Can you see it?
How about now?
We happened to bump into the same Ranger at Hancock Gorge later in the week and after checking out my phone pictures, he confirmed it was not the Olive Python (which we suspected it might be) but that it was a KING BROWN!!!!
But the snake didn’t deter us and we were happy for it to do it’s thing. Once we got past him, we had continued on – slow and steady wins the race for us. The estimated 2-hour return trip was a 5 and a half hour trek for us, but the girls loved it. We ended the gorge walk at the Circular Pool, which were stunning. There was lots of clambering over rocks and jumping over puddles and streams but it kept the girls entertained.
Miss A was a bit over it by the end but she did an awesome job with encouragement (and the bribe of a lollipop when we got back to the caravan – you do what you gotta do!). She charged up the steep rocky stairs to get out of the gorge like a trooper.
And nearly made it all the way back to the car park before needing a piggy back ride.
And our first full day and gorge walk was complete! The girls were super proud of their efforts and covered head to toe in red dust, wanted a pic of themselves with the gorge walk sign!
Weano Gorge, Handrail Pools, Oxer Lookout, Junction Lookout
With so many gorges to explore, we had to plan out our days and the next two were spent in an area around 50km away. This area covered the Weano, Hancock, Joffre, Knox and Kalamina gorges. We decided to give the Handrail Pools and the Oxer and Junction Lookouts at the Weano Gorge a go first. With only two days allocated in this area, and knowing that the Hancock Gorge and Kermit Pools was going to be challenging, we couldn’t fit it all in, so the Weano, Joffre and Knox Gorge walks were put onto the ‘next time’ list.
The view at the Junction Lookout was amazing – such a big drop and the depth and texture of the rock cliffs made it so impactful. Unfortunately the shadows made it really hard to get good pics!
Oxer Lookout was not as impactful but still gorgeous.
We wanted to try and get into the Handrail Pools, but a big group had gotten there before us and having to factor in a water crossing and some cliff scaling, not to mention a super slippery handrail, we decided to pass and save our energy for Hancock, as we’d had recommendations to definitely make it to Kermit Pools and knew it would be challenging.
We left the Weano Gorge area and headed towards Joffre Falls Lookout and Knox Gorge Lookout. We decided that it was still early enough to fit in another walk so we decided to skip the lookouts and check out Kalamina first. We’re glad we did as it was a great walk and we met another family with kids similar age and walked our way along the bottom.
We got to the end (well, we thought it was the end – turns out it wasn’t, but we weren’t far off it) and skimmed rocks on the pools there before heading back.
By the time we got back to the top, it was nearing dusk but we stopped for a beer with our new friends Dave and Sherry whilst the kids played.
We made it back to camp around 6pm when it was dark. Richard ended up giving us a call on the UHF to make sure we were ok, but luckily we were only five minutes away. A big day but heaps of fun!
Hancock Gorge, Kermit Pools, Joffre Falls Lookout and Knox Gorge Lookout
Well what an experience Hancock Gorge proved to be! We said farewell to Richard and Fiona and the girls who were leaving Karijini before heading back over the red dirt road to Hancock Gorge. Our friends Natasha and Richie had recommended this gorge to us and recently Natasha had sent me a message telling me to give it a go and not to give up – to keep going because it was worth it and so we really wanted to give it a red-hot-crack.
From the beginning, the super steep descent set the tone for this class 5 walk. Very rocky and uneven, we made our way down the rocky steps to a steel ladder, which both girls got down themselves. Not that we had a choice in the matter given Miss A refused to be helped and wanted to do it all by myself.
We walked along the gorge for a bit until we came to a section that could not be passed without getting wet. It only came up to our thighs, but I’m glad I’d worn lycra active wear as it didn’t feel as cold as I know it would have if I’d just been wearing shorts and the water had been on bare skin.
We negotiated the water crossing quite easily and that’s when it started to get challenging. This picture doesn’t really show the degree of difficulty, but the two options were to swim or clamber over the top of the cliff on the right hand side like mountain goats.
We didn’t really want to get the girls wet as the water was quite cold, but we weren’t sure if we could get them… and us, all over safely by climbing up and over the top. Corey sussed out the water and then decided to take Miss A and give it a go. I followed suit and we tried to inch our way along the edge which got us about half way, but then the submerged rocks narrowed (and were very slippery) which made it hard to continue.
I decided to take Miss B up and climb over but Corey kept shimmying along with Miss A on his shoulders. I didn’t see what was happening as some other climbers were standing before us and had kindly taken our backpack to the other side, but I heard a big splash and all the other climbers were looking over the edge, where Corey and Miss A had fallen off and into the water. They got Miss A out and wrapped a towel around her. Corey was fine and could stand up, but he lost his sunglasses in the process.
We all got to the other side eventually and I changed Miss A out of her wet clothes (thankfully I had the foresight to pack dry clothes!). We stopped for a snack and then continued on. This is a pic of ‘the other side’ and somewhere in that narrow section are Corey’s sunnies!
Clean and dry and enjoying the sunshine, the girls had a snack in the ‘Amphitheatre’.
We got to the start of the ‘Spider Walk’ (where you have to use your arms and legs against the cliff walls to get through – like Spiderman), and Corey started going down into it with Miss B but as I got closer with Miss A she wasn’t having a bar of it. She decided that she was not going to get wet again and refused to go.
So in the end, I put Miss B on my back and we went through the Spider Walk and made it to the Kermit Pools.
We made it!
I couldn’t get across the narrow ledge to check the next pool out, but we were just happy to have reached the end, even if we didn’t get to see over the edge! We did it Natasha!
We then went back to the Amphitheatre to wait for Corey to go and check it out. While he was in there, we went back to see if we could find his sunnies, but alas, we couldn’t… they are gone forever!
Heading back was a lot easier than coming over. We decided to try climbing over the top and found that to be a lot easier than we thought it would be. Slow, for sure. A bit hair-raising? Yes, at times.
But we did it!
And it was time to make our way back.
We waded back through the water crossing.
And back to the steel ladders.
And back up the cliff face.
“Mum, another picture at the sign – we did it!”
And back to the car for lunch.
Once we’d finished lunch we decided to have a quick look at the Joffre Falls and Knox Gorge lookouts. But Corey and I ended up having to go individually as it seemed the morning antics had knackered our two little gals.
The Joffre Falls were gorgeous but hard to film due to the shadows.
The Knox Gorge lookout were amazing. The Junction Lookout really made you go wow, but the view from the Knox Gorge Lookout was incredible. Such a shame it was hard to get any great pics.
During our last day in Karijini, we had planned to go back to Fern Pool for a swim, but it was quite windy and cold so we decided it would be a quiet day. The girls were a bit tired and happy just to play and hang out, so we spent the day reading and chilling out ready for pack up the next day.
We had such an awesome time in Karijini. It is seriously a magical place with landscapes and vistas that were even better than what we were expecting. Those hills on the way out just speak to you, with their ever changing colours!We’ve already decided that when we come back again, we’d tackle all the gorge walks. We always knew that we couldn’t do it all, given the age of our kids but we’re quite proud that they are happy to give these big walks a go and we do get to experience a lot!
Is Karijini National Park on your bucket list? (It should be!) Do you like to try the challenging activities that most people would say are too hard for your littlies?