For sheer rugged beauty and a diversity of gorges, waterfalls,
rockpools and canyons, few areas of Australia come near this region.
International tourists are unanimous in naming their visit to Karijini
National Park as a highlight of their trip to Australia.
Stretching for more than 400km through the Pilbara region of Western
Australia, the Hamersley Ranges contain many spectacular gorges have
been carved by the waters of the Fortescue and other rivers. Sheer
walls of rock are layered in colours from red to green and blue to pink
in the changing sunlight, forming wild and magnificent panoramas. The
gorges are up to 100m deep, with the water flow at their bases
sometimes only one metre wide. Others have wide crystal-clear pools
reflecting the blue skies. Lush green vegetation thrives and the gorges
are cool oases to swim in and escape the brilliant sunshine.
Karijini National Park protects the many different wildlife
habitats, landscapes, plants and animals of the Ranges. Wildflowers
vary with the seasons. In the cooler months the land is covered with
yellow-flowering cassias and wattles, northern bluebells and purple
mulla-mullas. After rain many plants bloom profusely. It is also home
to a variety of birds, red kangaroos and euros, rock-wallabies,
echidnas and several bat species. Geckos, goannas, dragons, legless
lizards, pythons and other snakes are abundant. Huge termite mounds are
a feature of the landscape and the rock piles of the rare pebble mound
mouse may be found in spinifex country.
In the north of Karijini National Park, small creeks hidden in the
rolling hillsides - dry for most of the year - suddenly plunge into
sheer-sided chasms up to 100 metres deep. These are the Park's famous
gorges. They are spectacular but can be extremely dangerous. Further
downstream, the gorges widen and their sides change from sheer cliffs
to steep slopes of loose rock. Rocks exposed at the gorges originated
as fine grained sediment which accumulated on an ancient sea floor
2,500 million years ago.
Every gorge is different, and each one is worth a visit but to
explore these gorges in detail it helps be fit and prepared at times to
submerge in near-freezing water, follow narrow paths and cling to rock
ledges. If you'd rather play it safe, a visit to Oxer Lookout at the
junction of Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre Gorges is a must. Tiers of
banded rock tower over a pool at the bottom of the gorge. Wow. It's
nearly impossible to describe how overpowering these gorges are, and
the view from Oxer Lookout is quite staggering. Photos just don't do it
justice; staring down to the water some 100 metres below as it meanders
past giant vertical, red cliff walls. Stunning stuff.
The Park is the traditional homeland of the Banyjima, Kurrama and
Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range
is Karijini. Evidence of their early occupation dates back more than
20,000 years. During that period, Aboriginal land management practices
such as 'fire stick farming', resulting in a diversity of vegetation
types and stages of succession, have helped determine the nature of the
plants and animals found in the park today.
A crystal-clear stream, pools, waterfalls, and ferns contrast with
the red, terraced cliffs weathered by centuries of exposure are
highlights of this wonderful gorge. The occasional snappy gum can be
seen perched on rocky ledges. A 4-kilometre return trail runs along the
bottom of the gorge. Allow 3 hours for the return walk. After a loose,
steep descent, another track leads to the hidden gardens of picturesque
Circular Pool (800m return). This is an arduous walk, so you allow at
least 2 hours return. A 1.2-kilometre return trail runs along the rim
of Dales Gorge to Circular Pool Lookout.
Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool
Fortescue Falls is a rare year-round waterfall in Dales Gorge in
Karijini National Park. It tumbles some 20m over a series of red rock
steps into a deep plunge pool at its base. This pool is one of the most
popular swimming holes in Karijini National Park. Walk down through the
changing vegetation of the iron-rich gorge walls to the waterfall. (800
metres, 2-hour return walk.)
The 100 metre high Joffre Falls is at the head of Joffre Gorge. A
short track runs from the carpark to the lookout overlooking the falls,
which are often dry, and the plunge pool at their base. (100 metres, 10
minutes return.) Follow the marked route into the bottom of this
picturesque gorge to the first pool downstream of the waterfall. (3
kilometres, 3-hour return walk.) Peer deep into the Gorge from Joffre
Lookout at the unusual curved wall which forms a natural amphitheatre.
It's particularly spectacular after a rain when a 100 metre waterfall
cascades down its face.
There is a 30-minute return walk into the gorge's lush, shaded pool.
Alternatively, walk within the gorge along a stream and small ponds (3
hours return). There is a small seasonal waterfall sitting at the head
of Kalamina Gorge. The falls itself is a 5-minute walk from the car
Kermits Pool Spider Walk
Of the many adrenalin adventures awaiting you at Karijini National
Park in the State's north west, The Spider Walk is one of the most
challenging. This entails navigating your way through a very narrow
gorge, approx one metre wide, with hands and feet on either side of the
gorge walls as water flows underneath, very cool indeed! The reward at
the end is a swim at Kermits Pool. Walk on a little a little further to
the gorge opens out again - is simply breathtaking.
ourney to the 'centre of the Earth' down this steep, narrow gorge.
After climbing down a ladder you wander into the gorge which narrows
into a huge chamber and an attractive setting of small rock pools and
marbled walls. Feel the highly polished rock on the way down to
Kermit's Pool. Simply stunning, but best appreciated with a guide. (1.5
kilometres, 3-hour return walk.)
Hancock Gorge Chute
This is one of a number of narrow rock chutes in the gorges of
Karijini National Park, however it is one of the few that is considered
safe enough to traverse. The Chute drops about 35 metres down through
some of the oldest rocks in the world, cascading into Regans Pool.
Guided tours use a safety line to provide each participant with
cowtails to secure themselves as they traverse about 20 metres above
the pool. Care is needed here since the much-used footholds can be wet
and slippery. Regans Pool is named after a volunteer rescue team
member, Jim Regan, who was swept to his death in the Chute by a flash
flood that occurred while he was participating in a rescue in Hancock
Weano Gorge is one of the three gorges which meet below the Junction
Pool lookout. A short walk down steps and along the floor of Weano
Gorge brings you to the stunning Handrail Falls and Pool, which is
great for swimming.