If there was just one thing I could recommend to someone – Australian or visitor – wanting to see a spectacular part of Australia, it would be to visit Karijini National Park. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful place in Western Australia and a few days will leave with you with memories to last a lifetime.
After leaving the Pilbara, and driving through the mining town of Port Hedland we stopped to see the view at Albert Tognolini Lookout. We continued on our way, through the Hamersley Range, past Mount Bruce (Western Australia’s highest mountain) and onto Karijini National Park.
We spent three nights camping in small tents at Karijini Eco Retreat. I hadn’t camped since I was a kid so roughing it in the red dirt and eating in the moonlight was a great experience. The rising sun and chirping of birds is far better than any alarm clock. As we were so far out of town I had no phone or internet service which was tough going at first, but I soon learnt to appreciate the forced detox from social media.
Karijini is fabulous for star-gazing. It was a real treat every night to simply look up as there were SO MANY stars and the sky was completely clear. And on our last night, a couple of astronomy enthusiasts who worked at the Retreat treated us to a tour of the stars with their huge telescope. Seeing so many stars took me back to a night I spent aboard a boat in Halong Bay, where we lay out on deck chairs looking up in wonder at all the sky. It’s a great reminder of how big this world is, and just how small we are.
Our first walk, to check out Joffre Gorge, was quite steep and rocky. My fear of heights has been well documented so I found this hike a bit challenging. After making our way down to the bottom of the gorge, and tip-toeing over the small sharp rocks, we swam in the beautiful cool pool. After a relaxing swim it was time to make our way back to the top. I must admit, all the high lunges up steep and rocky inclines was a bit tough on my creaky ‘old lady’ bones.
An interesting stop was Karijini National Park Visitor Centre which features a small display that documents the fascinating history of the area.
The next day we took an all day hike to some of Karijini’s amazing and very beautiful gorges, at Dales Gorge. This was a more manageable (and less steep) walk, easy enough for families with small children who were also out enjoying a sunny day of swimming in the natural pools.
It really is hard to capture in a photo how amazing the pools are – they just don’t do them justice. Our first swim of the day was at Circular Pool, and after hiking the rocky gorge in the heat, it was a well-deserved dip. Entering the water is a cautious affair, as the rocks are covered in moss which makes them quite slippery. Steady as she goes – falling would hurt your butt and your pride.
Our second relaxing swim was at Fortescue Falls, a large pool with a permanent and calming waterfall. The cool water was perfect for a long and refreshing swim. I could have happily spent all afternoon floating in the clear water.
We may have saved the best for last. Serene Fern Pool is set among lush green trees, and you can swim right up to the rocks and sit up under a small waterfall. If you stay still in the water long enough, little fish will bite the dead skin off your legs and feet – how about that for a free spa treatment!
Have you been to Karijini? I’d love to hear about your favourite adventure there.
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