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    Karijini National Park is located about 17 hours north of Perth, but it’s well worth the drive to the place often considered one of Australia’s best national parks. Karijini is home to a number of incredible gorges to climb, hike and explore and waterfalls to swim beneath; all set amongst an ancient landscape, it often feels like a natural adventure park or playground.

    Explore Weano Gorge and Handrail Pool

    Located at the end of Weano Gorge is Handrail pool, and getting there is half the fun – wade through a waist-high section of water, scramble over rocks and boulders, then make your way down a narrow section of the gorge to emerge at the top of a waterfall. Then, holding on tightly, use the handrail fixed to the gorge wall to access this picture-perfect pool.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    Swim in Fern Pool

    On the eastern side of Karijini National Park is Fern Pool, located at the end of Dales Gorge. The spring-fed pool and waterfall is a significant place for the local aboriginal people. It’s one of the most accessible places to swim and also one of the prettiest; to get there, follow the stairs from the car park to Fortescue Falls, then it’s another 300 metres past the falls on a well-defined trail to the deep, turquoise pool.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    Explore Dales Gorge

    Also located in Dales Gorge is Fortescue Falls, the park’s only permanent waterfall. From here you can make your way to Circular Pool which is located further along Dales Gorge. You can either follow the trail along the gorge rim or continue on exploring along the base until you get to the end where the small blue pool is a perfect spot for a quick swim.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    Watch sunrise and sunset from one of the many lookouts in the park

    There’s no better place to be in Karijini at sunset than one of the many lookouts overlooking the gorges to watch the last of the light on the red, iron-rich, escarpment. Head to Junction Point and Oxer lookouts which are located near the junction point of the four gorges (Weano, Red, Hancock, and Joffre) and offer views of the 100 metre high cliff walls and the pools in the gorges below.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    ‘Spider walk’ at Hancock Gorge

    The reward for climbing over rocks then using all four limbs to inch your way along a narrow section of Hancock gorge (referred to as the ‘spider walk’) is Kermit’s Pool, aptly named due to its green colour. The class 5 walk into Hancock Gorge is often described as ‘journeying into the centre of the earth’ and it isn’t hard to see why – the rock formations in this ancient gorge are 2.5 billion years old!

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    Explore Kalamina Gorge

    Kalamina Gorge is one of the quieter gorges in the national park, and you’ll often be lucky enough to have this place to yourself. Make your way down the set of stone steps and, once at the bottom of the relatively shallow gorge system, turning right will take you towards a permanent pool of water and small waterfall at the base of the gorge. For those more adventurous, they can continue following the stream down to the end of the gorge.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography

    Take a dip in Hamersley Gorge

    One of the most recognisable places, and the most photographed, in Karijini National Park has to be Spa Pool in Hamersley Gorge, on the north-western side of the park. While the rest of Hamersley Gorge is just as impressive and a great place to swim, the highlight of the gorge is this perfect, small rock pool. The natural spa pool has recently had a ladder and handrails installed to make it easier and safer to access.

    Photo by @mattfieldes_photog

    Explore Joffre Gorge

    The trail to Joffre Gorge leads from the car park and nearby observation platform (which has great views over the gorge) and takes you across the top of the falls. It’s then a steep, but short, climb down the rocky edge to the base of the gorge where, following the stream along to the right, the natural amphitheatre-like gorge ends with a curved waterfall.

    Photo by @droneanddragons

    Hike Mt Bruce

    Mount Bruce (Punurrunha) is located on the western side of Karijini and if you’re headed from Tom Price you’ll spot it easily on your way into the park. At 1,234 meters, it’s the second highest peak in Western Australia. The 10 km, class 5 hike can be challenging and takes about 4-6 hours return depending on your fitness level.

    Photo by @niklas.christl

    Camp (or glamp) beneath the stars

     After an active day of hiking and exploring, there’s nothing better than camping out beneath a star-filled sky. The Dales Gorge Campground allows for easy access to Dales Gorge (Fortescue Falls, Circular Pool, and Fern Pool) and there are often astronomy sessions that run at night here regularly during the peak season for those who are interested in learning more about the night sky. For those who don’t wish to camp, Karijini Eco Retreat has cabins and eco tents (in addition to a campground) and is closely located to Joffre Gorge with trails that lead from the retreat directly to the gorge.

    Photo by @alex.vp.photography


    About the author:
    Alex is a photographer and writer who loves exploring the Kimberley and the outback. When she’s not stuck in the office, she’s out hiking, traveling down dusty roads and taking photos. See more of her photos at: Instagram.com/alex.vp.photography


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