Camping Experience at Karijini National Park

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By Car Brand Experts

Exploring the diverse camping opportunities at Karijini National Park in Western Australia, renowned for its stunning gorges, canyons, and natural pools.

Have you ever encountered a scenario where the hype around a place fails to meet your expectations upon arrival? Well, Karijini National Park is definitely not one of those places. With its endless canyons, gorges, and crystal-clear swimming spots, Karijini stands out as a must-visit destination in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Exploring Camping Options at Karijini National Park

Useful Advice: Tom Price serves as the nearest town, making it convenient to stock up there as the campgrounds are approximately an hour away.

When it comes to camping at Karijini, there are two primary choices available: Karijini Eco Retreat and Dales Campground (National Park camping).

Karijini Eco Retreat

Karijini Eco Retreat is situated in the central part of the National Park, offering secluded sites with amenities such as toilets, showers, potable water, and a communal cooking area. Additionally, there is an onsite restaurant highly acclaimed by visitors. However, please note that there is no designated dump facility available.

Dales Campground (National Park camping)

National Park camping can be found at Dales Campground located on the eastern side of the park. This rustic campsite comprises various loops catering to either generator or non-generator users. Most sites offer ample space and come equipped with bush toilets and a nearby dump point. Due to high demand, online reservations are necessary and should be made well in advance. Please be mindful that there are no rubbish bins provided at both campgrounds, requiring visitors to carry out all trash.

Optimal Time to Explore and Camp at Karijini National Park

The best months to visit Karijini span from April to October. Summers in Karijini National Park are particularly scorching, with temperatures at times exceeding 45o Celsius, leading to potential closures due to sudden flooding. During winter, expect chilly nights with temperatures dropping below freezing.

Must-Visit Spots on Your Karijini National Park Camping Excursion

Starting from Dales Campground

From Dales Campground in Karijini National Park, numerous natural swimming spots are within walking distance, offering an effortless stroll except for the lengthy descent down a staircase into the gorge. Although the ascent back may be a bit challenging, the sight of Fortescue Falls – a stunning cascading waterfall nestled in a deep rocky amphitheater – will make it all worthwhile. This picturesque site, the only permanent waterfall in the park, features plenty of ideal spots for picnicking, relaxation post-swim, or simply basking in the surrounding beauty.

A slight detour to the right from the staircase base leads to Fern Pool, a spring-fed oasis known as ‘Jubara’, transporting visitors to a verdant, aquatic wonderland. Traversing downstream takes you through Dales Gorge and up a demanding climb to the Circular Pool lookout.

From Dales Gorge, two route options lead to the park’s central region. The longer path involves following the highway and veering off onto the sealed segment of Banjima Drive. Alternatively, the potentially shorter route is taking the unsealed road west from the information center. It is highly advisable to verify the road’s condition beforehand as it can deteriorate rapidly and significantly.

Venturing from Karijini Eco Retreat

Within walking distance from the Eco Retreat in Karijini National Park lies Joffre Gorge, featuring captivating lookouts offering panoramic views. To fully appreciate this locale, descending down is a necessity. The descent is a moderately challenging trek involving some rock-hopping and climbing to reach the lower section. Following a glimpse of Joffre Falls (rarely flowing), visitors can indulge in a lengthy swim, approximately 200 meters each way. Those less confident in swimming can opt to bring a flotation device along.

The route to Hancock and Weano Gorges, which also leads to the Eco Retreat, is navigable with a 2WD vehicle, although a 4WD enhances overall comfort. It’s worth noting that vehicles are occasionally prone to broken windows along this pathway, emphasizing the need to exercise caution and adapt driving to prevailing conditions.

Hancock Gorge stands out as one of the most captivating and thrilling walking experiences. Beginning with descending steps and ladders, explorers eventually reach the gorge’s base. Subsequently, a journey along the creek entails wading and swimming through water or opting for a “spider walk” across rocks until reaching Kermits Pool, a deep pool enveloped by layered rock formations.

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Joffre Gorge

That’s Not All… Keep Exploring!

Upon returning to the car park, visitors have the option to embark on the Upper Weano Gorge walk or head directly to Lower Weano and Handrail Pool. The straightforward trail through the gorge culminates in a narrow chasm with a handrail, aiding traversal across the slippery terrain, leading to a descent into an open pool setting reminiscent of an amphitheater. This location provides seating areas for relaxation or for the more adventurous, an opportunity to extend the swim further. Be forewarned, the water here remains chilly due to limited sunlight exposure.

One final gem not to be missed is Hamersley Gorge, nestled in the park’s northwest quadrant. Although the road leading to the gorge is unsealed, it sees regular use by mining enterprises, ensuring decent maintenance. Entry into the gorge involves traversing rock steps leading down to a serene pool. Following the markers on the right involves ascending a rocky slope, with an optional dip in the main attraction: Spa Pool. This picturesque circular pool, fed by a gentle waterfall, will captivate visitors with its changing hues and brilliance throughout the day, making it an ideal spot to while away the hours.

Karijini National Park serves as a wonderland for the adventurous, catering to both the young and the young at heart. An enriching experience awaits, ensuring a truly memorable journey!

Written and photographed by Sandy and Marc van Mourik;

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