National Parks in Australia are among the best in the world, which makes you feel miraculous. They serve you with extraordinary, joyful experiences that you can never forget.
One example of such a National Park is the Karijini National Park. It is a gift of nature that will never disappoint you with its inherent wonders of spectacular gorges, waterfalls, sunsets, and much more.
1. Background of Karijini National Park
Karijini is currently Western Australia’s second-largest National Park. The park was priorly named Hamersley National Park by European discoverer F.T Gregory after his mate Edward Hamersley when he explored the Hamersley range and named it a significant feature of the park.
The current name has been given by the Banyjima, Kurama, and Innawonga Aboriginal people, who were introduced as traditional owners as they spent over 20,000 years in the Karijini National Park.
As a result of the traditional Aboriginal land management practices that were followed, including ‘fire-stick farming’, they have played a crucial role in shaping the diverse vegetation types and wildlife found in the park today.
2. Attractions at the Karijini National Park
Being the second largest National Park, you will see many mesmerizing wonders of nature that will be worth your journey. We have described them for you below.
2.1. Finest Gorges in Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park gorges are some of the most beautiful valleys in the world.
2.1.1. Dales Gorge
This gorge is a short walk away from Dales Campground. You can begin your journey from the Circular Pool lookout and descend into the valley. Enjoy a picturesque walk along the water, stepping on stones and navigating small rock ledges.
About halfway through, you’ll notice a tree leaning over the water, which you can climb onto with caution.
The highlight of this gorge awaits at the end, where you’ll discover Fortescue Falls.
2.1.2. Knox Gorge and Lookout
The Knox Lookout offers stunning views of Knox Gorge, where it meets Wittenoom Gorge. The park’s beauty is particularly captivating during the early morning or late afternoon, as the sunlight enhances the colours of the steep rock formations.
Beginning at the lookout, a pathway guides you to the initial point of the Knox Gorge trail. This trail takes you down the gorge until it narrows into a slot canyon. The trail is approximately a 2 km round trip involving rock scrambling and walking along the ledges.
2.1.3. Hamersley Gorge
This is one of the farthest gorges in the park, situated on the west side.
Getting there requires a long drive on an unpaved road, but the destination is worth the drive from Dales Campground.
Hamersley Gorge is famous for its “Spa Pool”, and it also offers waterfalls and large swimming areas along with a remarkable geology.
2.1.4. Hancock Gorge
Considered the most thrilling trail in the park, this short route guides you through a narrow canyon, leading to a natural gathering space surrounded by towering rock walls.
From there, you’ll continue through the famous Spider Walk and reach the emerald waters of Kermits Pool.
To reach Hancock Gorge, follow a Class 2 trail from the Weano Recreation car park. A connecting trail links this area to the walking trail leading to the Oxer and Junction Pool lookouts. This trail is known as Weano Gorge.
2.1.5. Weano Gorge
A short walk into Weano Gorge leads you to Handrail Pool, a fantastic spot for swimming and an excellent viewpoint for the stunning landscapes of Karijini National Park.
There are two available routes for accessing Weano Gorge. One is a longer route that begins at the car park and takes you through the Upper Weano Gorge. Alternatively, a shorter route leads through Lower Weano Gorge, accessible from the trail leading to Oxer and Junction Pool lookouts. These trails are a bit challenging and involve some scrambling.
2.1.6. Kalamina Gorge
Situated amidst the Weano Gorge and the Karijini Visitor Centre, you will find the captivating Kalamina Gorge. It’s the shallowest gorge in the park and a great place to start exploring the gorge system.
You’ll have to descend a set of rough steps to get to the gorge. At the bottom, a seasonal waterfall gently flows over rock ledges into a small pool of water.
For those interested in further exploration of the gorge, a simple stroll along the stream will allow for continued discovery. You’ll pass by rock pools and colourful rock walls until you reach the Rock Arch Pool. Along the way, you’ll need to cross the stream using stepping stones and do some simple ledge walking.
You will also find an information centre, drinking water and toilets near the car park.
2.1.7. Joffree Gorge
Joffree Gorge holds a lot of surprises for you. When you visit one end of this gorge, you can observe a stunning curved waterfall descending a considerable drop. It is a breathtaking natural amphitheatre sculpted from rock rich in iron.
To enjoy the views of the gorge, there’s a lookout platform where you can glimpse the scenery. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the walking trail into the gorge offers a challenging section that leads to the pool downstream from the collection.
The Joffree Falls walk trail is approximately 1.5 km, so you’ll cover that distance when you return from your exploration.
3. Other Things to Checkout at the Park
Apart from the highly picturesque and stunning gorges, there are a few more things we would like to recommend.
3.1. Mount Bruce
Mount Bruce, also known as Punurrunha, is the second tallest peak in Western Australia, rivalling Bluff Knoll in size. It is advisable to allocate more than a few hours to tackle this demanding hike. You can begin your early morning journey to dodge the parching heat.
There are three trail options; the shortest is the Honey Hakea track, also a round trip.
It is worth a visit for the breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape and the nearby operational iron ore mine.
3.2. Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool
This fall is the largest and most permanent waterfall in the park. Water falls from a 20-meter-high cliff into the pool below. You can reach it by walking through Dales Gorge or taking a long set of steps from the car park above the falls.
You can see the beautiful Fern Pool for a short walk from the falls. Thick, lush ferns surround this area. Additionally, a petite waterfall exists on the opposite end of the pool.
It’s important to note that this place holds excellent natural and cultural-historical significance for the local indigenous people. So, the tourists are expected to respect the area and refrain from creating chaos in and around the spot.
3.3. Flora and Fauna
Karijini National Park covers various kinds of plants in the Pilbara region, which interestingly fluctuates with the seasons. Suppose you discover the park in the cooler months. In that case, you will be attracted to the northern bluebells, purple mullahs, cassias, and wattles lying all over the grounds, living behind the yellowish tone.
Also, you may see many plants bloom profusely after the rain.
The vegetation types in the national park include spinifex hummocks, acacias, eucalyptus, melaleucas, and low mulga woodlands. Also, beautiful rock pools with ferns and fig trees that grow on the cliff walls will make you fall for their majesty.
Being home to a wide variety of animal species, some of the animals found here are kangaroos and euros, rock wallabies, several species of birds, bats, dragons, lizards, dragons, frogs, geckos, and goannas, pythons, and other snakes.
Exercise caution and remain aware of snakes when embarking on your travels.
To make your trip memorable, always visit Karijini National Park in the season of Australia’s late autumn, winter, and early spring, which is the middle of April and October, because of its excellent climate and low chances of precipitation. So, these are considered the peak seasons.
5. Is Summer a Good Time for Visiting the National Park?
Typically, it is not advisable to visit the National Park in summer. If you see the park in summer, you must be prepared to endure high temperatures. Discovering the gorges when it’s raining will also hamper your journey as there is a high chance of road closure because of the flash flooding.
6. What Are the Things to Be Packed While Visiting the Park?
The most common question is what to pack while going on a vacation. Don’t worry we’ll make this hard-hitting question easy for you. If you visit the National Park in the warm summer days, you should wear loose-fitting outfits along with shorts and T-shirts and do not forget to take your sunscreen and hat.
During winter nights, the temperature has the potential to reach freezing point, necessitating the need for an ample supply of warm clothing. Wear a jumper and pants while in the shoulder season (the season between the peak and off-peak).
Also, most importantly, bring waterproof camera bags through the gorge waterways.
7. How do You Reach Karijini National Park?
The park belongs to western Australia’s Pilbara region. Travellers can visit Karijini anytime from Karratha by taking more than an hour’s drive and from Tom Price, Newman, Roebourne, and Port Hedland via roads. Flights are also available to Paraburdoo town, some kilometres from the National Park.
The nearest options for refuelling from Dales Campground are Munjina Roadhouse or Tom Price, which are located more than a few kilometres away. The distance from the Karijini Eco Retreat to Tom Price is approximately 80 kilometres. If you plan to go from Dales to Weano on the shortest route, you can do that, too.
But make sure to plan your visit carefully, considering the distance and availability of fuel. You can also grab the North West Coastal Highway and then turn onto the Great Northern Highway, which is more than a few kilometres south of Port Hedland.
Also, before you make the first move towards the National Park, visit the Karijini visitor centre for further guidance to improve your forthcoming journey.
8. Lodging and Facilities
Do you want to add a bit of adventure to your journey? If yes, you can lodge over the campsites inside the National Park. Karijini National Park’s accommodations will give you a variety of camping facilities at Savannah and Dales campgrounds, along with safari tents at Karijini Eco Retreat.
You will see the toilets, showers, and water near the Karijini Visitor Centre, picnic tables, gas barbecues, and information shelters in the campgrounds and day-use areas. It’s essential to be aware that fees apply to visitors and campers who wish to access and utilize these facilities.
Another option is to stay in the nearby town of Tom Price and access the National Park by driving from there.
9. How Many Days of Stay is Required at the Park?
I would suggest you not stay less than four nights to make sure you can explore the gorges, refreshing waterfalls, and much more, which will do justice to your tour.
10. Karijini National Park Entry Fees
You must pay a certain amount to witness Mother Earth’s wanderings filled with clear plunge pools, Pilbara’s gum trees, Mount Bruce, and whatnot. But please note that these details may change without any prior information.
You can obtain the most up-to-date information at the Karijini National Park entry point from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attraction. Alternatively, you can also get it from the Karijini Eco Retreat.
If you have park passes, they will already cover your entry fee.
11. Essential Advice for Exploring Karijini National Park
11.1. Bring Your Supplies
Karijini National Park has limited facilities, with only a small shop and restaurant at Karijini Eco Retreat. Remember to bring all the food and water you’ll need for your stay. The park has no fuel stations or rubbish bins, so come prepared with fuel and rubbish bags.
11.2. Check for Gorge Closures
Before your trip, check which gorges are open for exploration. Temporary closures can occur due to incidents or maintenance. The Handrail pool was closed for some time but has reopened with additional safety measures.
Due to asbestos, Circular Pool remains closed indefinitely for visitor safety. Visit the DBCA website or inquire at the Eco Retreat for up-to-date information.
11.3. Limited Phone Reception
Surprisingly, only Optus provides phone reception within Karijini National Park. Telstra coverage is usually broad and does not extend inside the park. Keep this in mind when planning your communication needs.
11.4. Prepare for Cold Nights
While days can be hot, Karijini’s desert climate leads to freezing nights, especially in winter. Ensure you pack an ample supply of warm clothing, as temperatures in the park can plummet to 0 degrees Celsius or below.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for an enjoyable visit to Karijini National Park.
12. Guidelines to Adhere to While Inside the Park
- To protect the park, please stay on designated roads and tracks. Wet roads can be dangerous, and heavy rain may cause damage and sudden road closures.
- Respecting the park’s ecosystem, you must refrain from disrupting or extracting any animals, plants, or rocks during your visit. Bringing pets or firearms into the park is strictly prohibited.
- To preserve the aquatic life within the pools, it is essential to refrain from introducing soap or detergent, as they can have adverse effects on the ecosystem.
- To minimize the potential for bushfires, it is advisable to utilize the gas barbecues provided or bring your portable cooking appliances for cooking purposes. Please be aware that the park strictly prohibits ground fires and solid fuel fires. It is also forbidden to bring glass or alcohol into the gorges.
- Inside the park, it is essential to note that there are no bins or waste removal systems available. Ensure you carry a waste bag to carry any trash out of the park responsibly.
13. Karijini Visitor Centre
The Karijini Visitor Centre is where you can learn about the Park’s nature and history. It has information, cool drinks, souvenirs, and facilities, including showers and toilets.
The building’s design looks like a goanna and is essential to the local Aboriginal people. Inside are displays about the park’s geology, plants, animals and Aboriginal culture.
The Visitor Centre also creates job opportunities for local Aboriginal people and allows visitors to talk to them and learn about their connection to the land.
14. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Should we book campgrounds in advance?
Yes. You have to book the campgrounds in advance.
2. Is there a fee required for park entry?
Yes. To witness the serenity of Karijini National Park, you will need to pay a certain amount.
3. What is the peak time to visit the park?
October to mid-April is the peak season to visit the park.
Karijini National Park is the second-largest National Park in Western Australia, making it a truly exceptional and remarkable park. The gorgeous red landscape has been slowly carved out of rock due to erosion.
Seek guidance from the Karijini Visitor Centre for recommendations on exploring the most remarkable locations. Discover deep gorges, swim in clear waters, and love waterfalls and secluded swimming holes. We recommend staying a few nights camping or glamping at the Karijini Eco Retreat.
Look out for colourful flowers after the rains and spot termite mounds, birds, wallabies, kangaroos, goannas, and more.
Ishika Das is a BA-LLB student with a deep passion for exploration, literature, and staying informed. While pursuing her studies, she finds solace in embarking on thrilling adventures, with Australia holding a special place in her heart. Ishika’s wanderlust leads her to immerse herself in the diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures of the country. Alongside her travels, she is an avid reader, constantly seeking knowledge and staying up to date with current affairs. Ishika’s insatiable curiosity drives her to be informed about the world around her, as she believes that understanding the present is crucial for shaping a better future.