When we first started planning our journey from Broome to Perth and asking around for recommendations, a few people told us we should check out Karijini National Park. We did a bit of research and decided it was something we didn’t want to miss! We added it into our itinerary and while it meant an extra day of travelling, it was well worth it…
After a great stay at Discovery Parks Port Hedland, we got up bright and early to begin the drive. The National Park is a big area and there are a few different places you can go depending on your vehicle and what you are interested in seeing. Since some of the roads aren’t sealed and since we don’t have a 4WD, we made sure to do a bit of research on the roads and routes beforehand and found out we would easily be able to get to Dales Campground. We arrived at about lunch time and stopped in at the Visitor Centre to pick up some insect repellent and pay for our pass- it was just $13 per car and $11 per person to camp at Dale’s and you can either pay by cash at the entry point if you have correct change, or just by card at the Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre itself is also worth a look at- it’s almost like a small exhibition in itself, with lots of photographs and information about the area’s indigenous history.
We had a quick bite to eat, parked in our camping spot, and then laced up our shoes to begin a big afternoon of walking! After consulting our map we worked out we could explore Dale’s Gorge and the Circular Pool, followed by Fortescue Falls and the Fern Pool, and each one of these took our breath away.
Dale’s Gorge is huge, and it’s difficult to really articulate or capture the sheer size of it. The photos really don’t do it justice, but it is one of the biggest of its kind that we have seen. It was also VERY hot. We brought one big water bottle with us for the walk, but next time we would definitely take two!
There are two ways to walk down into Dale’s Gorge and we opted for the trickier one, but if you aren’t confident or if you’re travelling with kids there is a an alternative option. After a combination of walking and climbing we made our way down to the Circular Pool for a much-needed swim to cool down. The rocks were very slippery and the water was a little green but that wasn’t stopping us- the fresh water was refreshing and the mini waterfall offers a great photo op if you’re looking for that perfect Instagram pic!
We then made our way down to Fortescue Falls, which felt almost like swimming in a large pool surrounded by mountains! There are plenty of rocks around to climb or sit on, and it would be a great place to take a picnic. We felt that we came at the perfect time of year- it’s technically the off season which meant we almost had the place to ourselves but it’s warm enough that the water is lovely, and it’s sunny without being too hot.
After swimming around in Fortescue Falls and both being bitten by what we think might have been a horse fly (ouch), we wandered down to the Fern Pool. This was possibly the most magical- with ferns draped around, stooping trees, clear blue water and fish nibbling at your feet, it almost looks like something out of a story. If you are into photography and travelling with a camera, this would definitely be a must-see!
After a good few hours of exploring we finally made our way back to our campsite where we met Gavin, a traveler who has been on the road on and off for a year! We swapped stories and looked at the stars for a couple of hours and then had a quick dinner and fell asleep. This was our first night in an unpowered site and we had thought it would be a bit hot, but again we were lucky with the weather and it was unseasonably cool that night so we had no issues and a great night’s sleep!
We were up early the next day and watched the sunrise over the Pilbara. There have been amazing sunrises and sunsets almost every day of this trip but they never get old. We then packed up and drove for just under an hour to get to Joffre Gorge, another area of Karijini which we were able to access via sealed roads.
To get down to Joffre Gorge there was a short walk and then a climb down- we didn’t find it too difficult, but if you aren’t confident or haven’t done this kind of climbing before it might not be for you. Whether or not you opt to climb down though, the view is spectacular.
The water was perfect as well- crystal clear and surrounded by a thin canyon. You could just imagine what it would be like in the wet season with rain pouring into the gorge and water flowing through the canyon. Of each of the places we swam at Karijini, this one was probably our favourite.
All in all, we were so happy that were able to fit in the trip to Karijini National Park; it is truly an amazing part of the country. This trip is taking us to some incredible places that we would never have visited otherwise. We left Karijini with dirty shoes, sore legs, big smiles and memories that will last a lifetime.
–Jess and Ridge
November 13, 2018