Not long after arriving in the Pilbara, Neal has some time off work so we headed of to Explore Karijini National Park. It’s wasn’t the ideal time of year to visit as it was coming into the hot summer season where temperatures can reach over 40 degrees celsius. It was the end of the dry season and the National Park is surrounded by desert so we did not expect to find much water but we took our paddle boards anyway because you never know.
Our journey took us south along the inland route of the Warlu Way named after the Dreamtime Serpent Warlu who upon emerging from the sea, travelled through out the land creating water holes and water ways along his path.
Karijini is Western Australia’s second largest National Park and is located in the Hammersly Ranges, but it is the stunning gorges that draw people to visit which seemingly appear out of nowhere.
The land in the region is made from some of the earth’s oldest rock formations which were forced out if the ocean, buckling under the pressure of techtonic plates. This formed a series of mountain with clearly defined layers which almost look like the ruins of giant ancient castles and battlements.
Our destination was the Karijini Eco Lodge where SUP Bloke was treating us to a couple of nights glamping. As we get closer to the camp the land appears to flatten out. You’d be forgiven for thinking there were no gorges or water holes anywhere near by.
What amazes me since I’ve been in Western Australia is just how different the birds, lizards and trees are. It’s a strange dichotomy of being both familiar and a totally new environment. It almost reminds me more of my time travelling through Africa than in Australia.
We arrived to find our tent with a nice shady tree oriented to make the most of viewing the setting sun from our verandah. The tent itself was nice and roomy with plenty of space to relax and had it’s own ensuite open air bathroom. It was almost like showering outside in nature.
Even though the days were too hot to get too active we were surprised at just how much it cooled down at night time so much so that I was glad we brought some warm clothing.
The next day after a buffet breakfast at the restaurant we visited Dales Gorge and hike the short but steep descent to the Fortesque Falls. The pathway down is a raised walkway with stairs, an easy enough climb but we decided not to bring our paddle boards down with us. As we descended we caught tantilising glimpses of the falls and pool which looked like the perfect spot to cool off with a swim.
There was a tranquil serenity about the place and we were glad to see the other visitors respecting the traditional custodians request to keep loud noises to a minimum. The gorge walls towered above us cathedral like and it was easy to see how this ancient landscape has a sacred energy to it.
The following day we visited the Hancock Gorge and were treated to a beautiful vista at Oxer Lookout. Making our way part way along the gorge track we found ourselves walking into some of the hottest and driest conditions we’d ever experienced. The air was so hot that it almost seemed to burn the back our our throats just from breathing. Deciding we weren’t adequately prepared to make the walk in these conditions we turned back. Now that we are based in Western Australia we figured we would happily return when the weather was a little cooler.
As for places to paddle board in Karijini National Park, from where we went the best place would be Fortesque Falls but it didn’t seem big enough for much of a paddle. If was busy I think it would also be unfair on other visitors sharing the pool. There is so much more to Karijini we will definitely be back!
Watch our video of Exploring Karijini National Park
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