Karijini is a unique landmark and iconic travel destination. The remoteness of the place and the individual nature of each gorge make Karijini a special place.
Karijini National Park is central to the Hamersley Ranges in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and lies over 1000km north of Perth. As a tourism destination it deserves at least a week of your time and if you can manage to self-drive yourself to the area your trip will be even better.
The approach to Mt Bruce, at the outskirts of the park, is reminiscent of Mt Augustus looming from the landscape, but it is the gorges, carving downwards from the rugged landscape that hold the real attraction.
Many people arrive in touring coaches and have limited time at Karijini. It is sad to see a bus load of people clambering about one of the park lookouts without having the time to discover the secrets of the gorges below.
And while the views from the lookouts are spectacular and the drive around the National Park is noteworthy – Karijini is one of those places that you really need to get involved with. It’s a place to get dirty and scratched and wet.
Karijini is a series of walks and gorges and each descent is unique and this is the real attraction of Karijini. Walk trails are unobtrusively delineated by small plastic markers and it is possible to ignore or miss them and thus create a sense of discovery as you wait to see what greets you around each new corner.
The walk/climbs into the gorges are best timed for early morning. If you manage to be the first down you will find yourself alone in a pristine rock environment capable of changing every 100 steps. Water will be coursing over small ‘falls’ and seeping through the walls and the gorge vegetation has a rainforest feel while the bush above ground is pure Pilbara – sparse, rugged and enduring.
You will encounter deep rock pools where you can swim and rest before pushing on to explore further. At times you will need to shed your shoes in order to wade through chest high water to gain access to the rest of the trail (- open, waterproof, technical sandals and bathers are perfect for exploring Karijini’s Gorges).
The next corner may find you ‘spider-walking’, above water, between two high rock walls or picking your way across shale-like red shelves of rock.
At times you will be unsure whether or not to continue, but push on until it is not physically possible to go any further. It will become obvious you have reached the end of the track when your gorge terminates 300 metres above the rock floor of the next gorge, or: the professionally installed abseiling hanger plates indicate proper climbing gear is needed.
Each one Different
Each gorge in Karijini offers a unique experience and no two are alike and this is why 5 or 7 days can easily slip away here. Walking many of the gorges can be a reasonably strenuous exercise and a swim in a rock pool at the base and something to eat is a pleasant way to spend half a day. Many people will question the need to tackle two gorges in one day, especially if they are to be enjoyed and explored, and if the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius - (common in summer).
Staying at Karijini National Park means camping or ‘resort’ style accommodation and services are virtually non-existent. It is usually best to try and take most or all of what you require. The town of Tom Price and Auski Roadhouse are close by and can provide supplies or limited shopping. Tom Price is a ‘Mine Town’ and Auski is just a roadhouse. Don’t expect too much in the way of services or choice.
A visit to Hamersley Gorge and Wittenoom make for an interesting deviation in a week’s schedule. Hamersley is a particularly nice spot for a day visit and a relatively easy walk and the abandoned town of Wittenoom offers a little history and insight. Hancock and Weano Gorges provide standout exploring experiences and should be top of a limited itinerary while Fern Falls is a great spot for kids.
Karijini is a place you can keep returning to. It changes throughout the year and dramatically after rain. It lies in a visually magnificent part of the world and the contrast of the landscape, the gorges and Mt Bruce and the ability to explore the area, without too much regulatory intrusion, make it a very special place.
◄ The Complete
Guide To 4WD
The 4WD ►
To Outback Touring