Karijini National Park
Sonia & Marica
Karijini National Park Is Western Australia’s second-largest National Park and one of the most spectacular sights in the Pilbara region. Coming from South-west, the nearest town is Tom Price located approximately 1470km north of Perth. The town is commonly referred to as the 'Top Town in WA' since it’s located 747m above sea level. It is a modern, fully serviced town, and is an ideal base to explore the wonders of Karijini National Park. Moreover, the town was named after Thomas Moore Price, who arrived in the area in the early 60’ to appraise deposits of ore and was instrumental in convincing the mining companies to mine in the area.
We stayed at Karijini National Park for 2 nights and 3 days. There are only 2 accommodations within the park: Karijini Eco Retreat on the west side and Dales Camp Groupon on the East one.
Coming from Tom Price, there’s a 75km-sealed road to the western campground. The Eco Retreat, indeed, offers both expensive private cabins and 20dollars/person campground sites. Here’s the only place in the park with drinking water (there are more water tanks but it’s untreated bore water which must be boiled before used for drinking).
This is a good base to explore the western area of the park.
We really enjoyed the Handrail Pool trail in Weano Gorge, which is approximately 1-hour return and offers beautiful rock formations of different colours. Unfortunately, several sites with water such as Joffre Falls are pretty dry during this season (May). Another gorgeous spot not to be missed is Hamersley Gorge located an approximately 1-hour drive from the Karijini Drive/Hamersley Mount Bruce intersection. Spectacular rock formation and unusual colours make this gorge a photographer’s delight. Moreover, it’s a perfect place to swim and escape from the thousands of flies! However, the road to get here is unsealed and mostly corrugated, but not as bad as the 30km internal drive to the visitor centre located on the east side of the park. The road indeed is full of corrugation and rocks.
On the way to the visitor centre, we stopped at Kalamina Gorge for a nice 2 hours return trail into the gorge ending at Rock Arch Pool. From the visitor centre to the Dales campground is a 10km drive on a sealed road. You can either pay for the campground (11 dollars per person) at the visitor centre or in cash directly to the hosts at the campground.
We actually loved the east side of the park which is home to three of Karijini’s highlights: Fortescue Falls, Circular Pool and Fern Pool. Moreover, it’s so easy to move around because everything is connected by a walking trail. In fact, we left our car at the kangaroo Loop in the campground and from here we walked around 20 min to reach the starting point of the trail to Circular Pool.
To get to the pool, you need to descend the steps down a steep slope to the bottom of the gorge but once down there we had the feeling to be in a real oasis away from the heat. The pool is beautiful but freezing as well cause it’s never touched by the sun. We kept walking into the gorge toward the amazing Fortescue Falls and the more hidden Fern Pool. The last two places are the most popular for a refreshing swim or just to relax and enjoy nature after the approximately 2 hours trail. Indeed we decided to come back here the following morning in the early hours to enjoy the landscape in a more peaceful time with almost no tourists around and swim under the falls. You will have just to leave your car at the Fortescue Falls car park and descend the easy stairs down to the falls if you don’t want to do the whole walking trail.
We really loved it here! Karijini is really unique park plenty of so many different landscapes and colours. We suggest staying here at least 3 days to fully enjoy what it has to offer.
Just remember that there’s no fuel station within the park and that the nearest one is in Tom Price or at the Auski Roadhouse going up to Port Headland.