Friday, July 24, 2015

Karijini National Park 16-18 July

Karijini is a large Park about 200 km south of Millstream Chichester NP, and is one of the most popular parks in WA,  despite being fairly remote. The main campground is about 100km from the nearest town, Tom Price, so you need to watch your fuel fairly carefully. There are no food supplies either, except ice creams at the Visitors Centre.

We drove from Millstream Chichester NP to Karijini along the railway service Road, a private road owned by Rio Tinto. To use the road you need a permit. To obtain the permit you need to watch a road safety video then pay a gold coin for the permit. It's a relatively good dirt road that cuts off quite a few km from the trip.
Private railway from the mine

Hamersley Gorge, in the north western corner of Karijini was the first gorge we visited. It has fantastic folded layers and colours in the rocks, which have been twisted under pressure. I liked it the best because of the wonderful rock formations. There was a big pool of water and a waterfall at the bottom, but no swimming today.

Karijini has many gorges and is a mecca for those younger and fitter than we are. David woke early one morning and did a walk for about an hour, which was very energetic and out of character for him on this trip. The next walk we both did was to Fortescue Falls. This is the same river as at Millstream Chichester NP. Down some fairly steep and uneven steps to the top of the falls I struggled, past workmen installing a new set of steps which will be finished in a month or so. The botttom part has already been done. There was a fatality on this walk in 2011 and the safety really needed upgrading.

From the top of the falls is an easy walk to Fern Pool, a very pretty place. There are massive fig tree roots entwined in the rocks, but also ferns growing in sheltered spots in the gorge.

We could have continued down the gorge in the opposite direction but rock hopping down the rocks next to the falls seemed a bit unsafe for me to attempt, my flexibility being somewhat compromised. Instead we viewed the bottom of the gorge, and Circular Pool at the end, from above. Circular Pool looked deep and forbidding and I'm sure was very cold as it hardly receives any sunlight.

Most of the rest of the gorges are towards the others of the park, about 50km from our campsite so we tried to see as many as possible in one day. In hindsight we should have stayed at least one extra day and moved our camp closer to the other end of the gorge. However we made the most of the time and elected to view some gorges from the lookoutss at the top, and do only one walk, into Kalamina Gorge. This gorge was quite wide at the bottom and was generally fairly easy to navigate as it was mostly flat. You could see how many other rocks have been worn smooth over time through the action of water.
Crocidilite, better known as asbestos

We stopped at the lookout for Joffre Gorge and watched nimble young people slide down rock faces with ease. Not for us any longer. At Knox gorge there were wonderful columns of deep red rock, but as time was running short we decided not to do the walk.

Our next stop was Oxer lookout where 4 gorges meet. Although the labels didn't specify the names I think Hancock, Joffre, Knox and Oxer Gorges meet at Junction Pool. This is a very deep gorge and the trees at the bottom look tiny but are river red gums over 20 metres tall.

We decided not to visit Weano Gorge as it was getting too late and we were getting a bit gorged out.

Our final stop in Karijini was at Mount Bruce. This high point overlooks Rio Tinto's Marandoo mine, but the view was a bit disappointing. However the wildflowers there were quite varied and possibly the best we have seen. Pictures to come

We also met a young family there who recommended we stay at Parraburdoo rather than Tom Price. Not only was the park much cheaper but there were lots of washing machines and dryers and they were all free. This was a great incentive, but an added bonus was that we could wash the car and camper there, something we haven't been able to do, due to park regulations or lack of water. Everything now looks quite a bit cleaner, but we will never get rid of all the red dust.

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