Aussie RT Day 15-17 – Karijini National Park

Australia, WA Roadtrip — By on November 10, 2010 11:29 PM

When we arrived in Broome we posted a sign offering a ride to Perth to anyone willing to share in the cost of petrol. We received a few responses and ended up picking Joel, a 23 year old British guy who seemed very easy going and wanted to do the same things we did on our journey down the coast. He traveled light with only a backpack, tent, and a hatchet. Many might  find a stranger with a hatchet frightening, but we knew how handy a hatchet and a man that knew how to use one might be when it came time to cut firewood or protect us from things that go bump in the night. I admit having a guy along on our journey made me feel safer and more willing to park down random dirt roads for free versus having to pay money to stay in a caravan park.

The first night we all camped together a freakishly strong and chilly wind came about that night prohibiting Joel from putting up his tent. He swore the picnic table was quite comfortable, but both Stacy and I felt bad for him having to suffer through the cold night sleeping on a piece of wood.

Road to Karijini National Park

Dale Gorge


We headed into Karijini, one of Australia’s largest National Parks and perhaps the best. We stopped at visitor center  where we learned about the history of the land. A sharp drop in sea level tens of million of years ago caused the rivers to cut through the land, carving out the sheer gorge walls. The aboriginal story is a bit different as I learned at the museum connected to the visitors center. Aboriginals say Karijini was made by great serphants called Thurru that moved through the country creating rivers and streams and carving out the gorges. The snakes still live in the watering holes and care should be taken not to offend them. Entering the gorges should be undertaken with great respect. When Aboriginals travel through the county, elders go first and show their respect by calling to the spirits of the land and announce their presence by saying who they are and where they have come from. They let the spirits know they belong there by taking a mouthful of water and spraying it in the air.

The woman at the visitors center did warn us that there are indeed many snakes that inhabit the watering holes and the land, particularly the death adder. I shuddered at the name alone and wondered if I now had bad snake karma after accidentaly running over one. I decided I would be announcing my presence and spray water in the air just to be on the safe side.

Our first day in Karijini we spent exploring Dale’s Gorge where we hiked down to Circular Pool, a very chilly watering hole. We later hiked to Fortescue Falls and swam in the Fern pool.

That first afternoon we headed down the unsealed road toward Weano Gorge. As we drove down the dusty road a guy emerged ahead of us, waving his hands wildly running into the middle of the road. As we got closer we could see that he was bloody. He ran around to my open window and quite frightened me at first as he was gasping for air, unable to talk, and was a bloody mess. He was finally able to catch his breath long enough to tell us he had been in a very bad car accident up the road. His car had flipped six times and his friend was badly injured as he was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. We all drove toward the accident and were stunned to see a completely smashed up 4WD vehicle laying on it’s side. The contents of the vehicle were strewn all around the red dusty road. Sitting next to the vehicle were two young Asian guys, one of which was very badly injured, bleeding from the head and clearly in a state of shock. I felt sick at the sight and perplexed as to how this terrible accident had occurred. The stretch of road was loose gravel but flat, and someone would have had to be going crazy fast to be able to flip six times on that road! We gave the guys our cold water and told them we would drive back to the visitor’s center so someone there could call emergency aid. Back at the visitor’s center, they called for help and told us it would take 1.5 hours for an ambulance to arrive. We all felt so helpless and didn’t know how else to help. We drove back to the accident to tell them help was on the way and found a park ranger tending to the victims. Needless to say, it was a frightening sight and was a reminder of how dangerous driving on unsealed roads can be and we need to drive slower. The afternoon felt somber and we were relieved to hear later that the guy did make it to the hospital okay.

I enjoyed hiking, climbing, and swimming my way to Hancock gorge. The trek was labeled a Class 5 hike and was challenging but fun as we had to swim through narrow chasms, some bouldering and the the fun spider walk at the end of the gorge that I was sure I would slip and fall but we all managed to spider walk with grace. The reward at the end of was Kermit’s pool, a very chilly watering hole shaded by the steep gorge walls surrounding.

We began the climb to Joffre Gorge but turned around  when we saw the dried up river that led us to believe the waterfall was not running. None of us wanted to hike through the stiff heat without water to jump in at the end!

Instead we decided to check out Knox Gorge which turned out to be an intense climb straight down scramble over loose rocks. With each step deeper down we moaned knowing we would have to climb back up later. We found a watering hole to cool off in for a bit.

There was a big tree extending over the water and Stacy didn’t think it was possible to climb, I took this as a personal challenge and succeeding in climbing, slowly but surely! Once at the top I wasn’t quite sure what to do, the only option seemed to jump!

Watch my silly tree climbing video …

To see more photos of Karijini National Park CLICK HERE.

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  1. marc says:

    amazing stuff. keep it coming.

  2. Pam says:

    Love it. I’m so the same way! Never think about getting back/down… 🙂

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