For those of you who don’t already know, we have extended our trip again! The family renting our house are building their own and asked for more time as it wasn’t ready, we had always said that would be fine, but would then be moving back and living at our parents for about 7 weeks. We were already pushed for time to finish the last part of our trip when needed so of course it made sense just to make the most of our trip and extend until we can move back into our house. This is why we have had more time to spend around Coral Bay, Exmouth and now places like Karijini, which were not possible before.
So after leaving Exmouth, we were excited for some more hikes around the amazing Karijini National Park. Karijini is the second largest national park in Australia and has stunning gorges that are over 2.5 million years old. To be able to explore so much of this park is something special, we spent 3 jam packed days here and we were so glad we had the chance to enjoy this experience.
The park is broken up into 2 main areas, east and west, as we came from the west we started here on day 1, there are 4 hikes to do in this area. The east side is where most people camp, Dales Gorge Campground and holds 1 main gorge with a waterfall and 2 other swimming holes. It is basic with only toilets, no power or water and is $11/p/night. There is one other gorge in the middle of these 2 areas, and you can also stay at an eco resort on the west side if you’re not camping or keen to pay more $ for more facilities. Maybe this map will help you understand.
On the first day we thought it would be best to stay on the west side, so we stayed at a roadside free camp, but found out it was a little frowned upon so moved the next day to the east side to a cheap paid camp and traveled from there for the remainder of our stay.
Hancock Gorge – leading to Kermit’s pool
Our first hike in the National Park and it was one of our favourites, not that we knew but we decided to do the 2 hardest hikes on day 1, they were both grade 4 and 5 but were more tricky than tiring. It was a steep climb down, basically rock climbing down the natural rocks that form the gorge, no simple man made steps at all. Most of the gorges in Karijini also still have water in the bottom of them, so there were a few times we took our shoes off and had to wade through sections of water to get to the next part, yes the water is cold! We always put them back on when we could as the rocks were quite slippery and you had to climb your way around edges and through obstacles. You had to pay attention the whole time, hence it being more tricky than a tiring climb like a lot of other hikes we have done. This kept us on our toes and we enjoyed the whole experience, cooling off at the end at a beautiful water hole called Kermit’s Pool.
Weano Gorge – leading to Handrail pool
Our first experience of Weano gorge was a little boring, we took a wrong turn and walked along the unpopular area of the gorge, up the side and back along the top, coming right back to the beginning so we could start it again to then go the right way. We found the right track and soon after beginning it was time to take our shoes off to basically swim through this section, it was a little deeper than expected so we got more wet than originally planned here. Similar to the first hike, it was quite tricky in some areas, making it more fun and one to remember. The gorge itself is just stunning, they are so massive it is really hard to explain or even give it justice in our photos, it is something you have to see the really appreciate. At the end of this gorge there was also a swimming hole, this one a lot bigger and the name Handrail Pool showing its reason with a steep decent down the waterfall into the pool, climbing down with a handrail to make it.
Camp Location: Roadside Pull Over, Opposite RIP Lookout
Cost = FREE
Travelled From: Exmouth, Pull over area
Distance Travelled: 549 kilometres
We have now moved camp and it is right next to the only gorge on the east side, Dales Gorge, the waterfall and swimming pools are at each end of the gorge so with everything in one place, we spend the day here with no travel needed.
A steel staircase from the carpark to the bottom of the waterfall leaves this hotspot easy access for all ages, a beautiful large waterfall within the Dales Gorge.
A short walk from the waterfall and you come across a stunning blue water hole, a smaller waterfall you can sit under and little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet if you sit on the pontoon
You double back the same path, pass the waterfall and enter the Dales Gorge track. Walking along the bottom of the gorge, capturing how massive these rock formations are, and what stunning colours of bright orange and red they are. Hidden rock pools and mini waterfalls, all leading to the other side where you find another stunning waterhole.
We reach the end of Dales gorge and find this magnificent gem, it feels like you’re in fairytale land with our stunning this spot was. We were lucky enough to score this spot all to ourselves so a brave dive in the cold water was worth it.
Last day to smash out the last few hikes in the area because there is some bad weather heading our way, we drive 45 minutes on corrugated road to get to the west side again as there is still more to explore here.
This hike is only 2km return, which is quite short, but perfect because you can get in and out, see what you came to see and move on to another site, this is what we also loved about all the hikes around Karijini. Another steep climb down what we would call nearly vertical rock climbing, this one was tough to get back up. It is amazing how different each gorge is even though they are all relatively close to one another. This also has a few nice water holes to swim in if you choose, but we could make it the whole way there and back without taking our shoes off so we hold off on the swim.
Wow, a massive waterfall that you can walk over at the top, hike down to see the beauty from the bottom as well. This was quite difficult to work our way down the vertical cliffs, they really make you use the natural rock formations for most hikes to not interfere with manmade tracks, which is great but definitely testing at times.
Another massive gorge to explore with a little less water and a bit more rugged, we wiz through this one quite fast. Awesome in its own right but we have been very lucky with our other explorations and we feel we are now all gorged out.
Camp Location: Dales Gorge Campground
Cost = $11/person/night
Travelled From: Roadside Pull Over, Opposite RIP Lookout
Distance Travelled: 88 kilometres
You can see we did a lot in 3 days, you could definitely spend a couple of more days here to take it a bit slower, or if you’re in a rush, you would have to choose your favourite as you wouldn’t really fit much more in less days. Two main tips from Karijini would be: 1. To wear togs or clothes you would be happy to swim in, no privacy to get dressed into togs so it’s strip and dip, haha. 2. Stock up on petrol and water (and anything else you need) because the closest town is Tom Price which is 1.5hrs away from any gorges or camps.
Karijini National Park was absolutely amazing, we were left in awe most of the time and loved every single part of it. Now to make our way north east, trying to fit in some more new stops like Broome, Lake Argyle, Kakadu and some of the Kimberly before hitting Darwin by the 21st June. We have a lot to get done still so are very happy we now have the extra time.