Karijini National Park


Karijini National Park, Australia
97 meters/318 feet
Located in northwest Australia, Karijini is home to a spectacular and unique collection of gorges and rockpools that are unlike anywhere else in the world.

The national park is known for it’s narrow gorges with distinctive banded layers of rock, and spectacular pools, waterfalls and swimming holes.

Descend into Karijini’s myriad gorges and you enter a different world entirely. Sheer walls rise up from narrow floors, vegetation grows from impossible angles and gravity is hard at work here. Water gurgles, spills and falls through the path of least resistance, carving out the spectacular landscapes and banded rock formations that Karijini is known for.

Karijni NP
photo courtesy of kimberleyaustraliaguide.com

Activities and Attractions

Karijini National Park is quite remote and is located about 1400km north of Perth. About 60km from the park entrance, Tom Price is the closest town to Karijini.

 

You do not need a 4WD to visit Karijini, but a 4WD is definitely recommended! The roads are all unsealed red gravel and the condition of the roads depends on how recently they have been graded. The roads can get quite corrugated and bumpy at times.

 

There are two entrances to Karijini National Park. The eastern entrance leads to Dales Gorge and the western Banjima Drive entrance leads to Hancock Gorge.

 

The best place to start is at the eastern end of the park, where a sealed road provides easy access to Dales Gorge. Starting at the Dales Gorge camping area, a well marked trail winds along the top of the gorge providing several scenic lookouts to the pools and junctions below.

 

Circular Pool and Fern Pool abut either end of the trail. Both of these stunning swimming holes are special places to the local Aboriginal people, and it is not difficult to see why. Quite simply, they both evoke a sense of wonder and amazement. Midway between these two pools is Fortescue Falls, a dramatic waterfall which cascades down a wedding cake-style tier of rocks.

 

Heading west, Knox Gorge receives little publicity and fewer visitors but it is one of the hidden gems of Karijini. Deep red and purple rocks walls with distinctive iron banded rock formations and several clear swimming pools made this an unexpected highlight of our visit. At it’s end, Knox Gorge narrows into a spectacular ravine with views to Junction Pool below

 

The gorges at the western end of the main are of the park are more spectacular again, and one of the highlights is undoubtedly Kermit’s Pool, so named because of its bright green hue. While not particularly difficult, a reasonable level of fitness is required for this walk. You should also prepare to wade through some short sections of water.

 

The end of Hancock Gorge looks down onto a series of cascades and pools named Reagans Pool, where warning signs caution against going any further without ropes, harnesses and an experienced guide. In 2004 an SES volunteer, Jimmy Reagan, drowned in a flash flood while rescuing a tourist from this pool and it has since been named in his honour.

 

May to September are the best months to visit Karijini. The days are usually clear and warm, and provide a respite from winter in the southern parts of Australia. The nights can get cold.

 

The wet season months from November to March are unbearably hot, with tempartures soaring above 100°F and rainfall fro thunderstorms and cyclones fills the canyon rivers making access difficult, if not impossible.


Geography

The landscapes of the Pilbara are characterised by hills, escarpments, and waterways. It is estimated that the land formations in Karijini are over 2,500 million years old. The canyons of Karijini provide spectacular views of banded iron, shale and dolomite.

 

The canyons vary in length from few hundred metres to many kilometres. The yall have a character of their own, most having green coloured pools that contrast with walls that have various striped colours of red, brown and bluish-black rock.


Ecology

From its expansive gorges to low woodlands, Karijini is home to an abundance of native flora and fauna. Karijini boasts a stunning wildflower season as well as and great number of native animals. As you explore the park you can find kangaroos, rock wallabies, bats and dingos. Also keep an eye out for frogs, geckoes, goannas, dragons, legless lizards, pythons and other snakes around the park.


History

The park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. Evidence of their early occupation dates back more than 20,000 years.

Westerner explorers first discovered the area in 1861, and a party led by FT Gregory named the Hammersley ranges after his friend Edward Hammersely.

 
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