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Karijini National Park to Karratha

...and some cold nights!

sunny 24 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Travels with Jet Set in Europe & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Karijini National Park (formerly Hamersley Range National Park) is in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara. Karijini means "hilly place" in the local Banyjima tongue. The region is rich in iron ore and consequently there are several large mining operations and the soil is a rich red - or **&&!?? red when the dust creeps through every gap of the vehicle, coating you and your clothes in a red film! The ranges and a gorge were named by explorer F.T. Gregory, after his friend Edward Hamersley, an early settler who had settled very successfully in Perth. The main geological features are banded ironstone formation, dolomite and shale. These have been cut through by rivers which have created spectacular gorges which reveal the layered - and folded - rocks.

On our first full day we visited the sights/sites (either is applicable in this case!) closest to the Eco-Resort, Joffre Falls, Junction and Oxer Lookouts and, a little further away Dales Gorge. Joffre Falls were almost dry but the gorge was stunning with lovely views across the flat landscape to the Eco-Retreat where we stayed. I haven't been able to find the origin of the name but assume that the falls were named after the French General Joseph Joffre who commanded the French forces in WWI and would undoubtedly have been known to Australian soldiers.

Our chariot awaits

Our chariot awaits

large_f31d50f0-ff1d-11e9-afc1-59f8e7b83bbf.jpgTwo viws of Joffre Falls

Two viws of Joffre Falls

The gorge below the falls

The gorge below the falls

People clambering out of, or through, the gorge

People clambering out of, or through, the gorge

View from the top of the falls to the Eco-Retreat

View from the top of the falls to the Eco-Retreat

Bush at the top of the falls

Bush at the top of the falls

Junction Lookout and Oxer Gorge are a short drive away (there are some fabulous walks through the gorges but they would have taken a lot more time - and fitness! - than we had). As the name 'Junction' suggests, these lookouts are situated where the Weano, Hancock and Red Gorges meet, giving an amazing panorama of gorges and cliffs, many of which are covered in spinifex grass and dotted with eucalypts. At Junction Lookout, there is a memorial to Jim Regan who lost his life in flash floods while attempting to rescue a visitor. If you do go into gorges, do remember to be aware of the conditions and think of those who may have to try to rescue you.

Panorama across the spinifex strewn junction

Panorama across the spinifex strewn junction

A closer view of spinifex with eucalypts dotted through

A closer view of spinifex with eucalypts dotted through

View down the gorges

View down the gorges

The memorial to Jim Regan

The memorial to Jim Regan

We had lunch in the Weano Gorge car park and were heading for Hancock Gorge, when a ranger came dashing by. A storm had been forecast and he was rushing to get people out of the gorge before the storm struck. As the storm was imminent, we also abandoned plans to go to Weano Gorge and drove to the other side of the park, to Dales Gorge. The camping ground here is, I think, the only other accommodation site in the park. We parked at the car park for Fortescue Falls and walked down the steps to this pretty set of falls. On our way across the park, we had stopped at the Visitor Centre where a young, and very helpful, Aboriginal woman at the desk had recommended a visit to Fern Pool. On paper this was a more testing walk but we were pleased to negotiate this and find a lovely pool fed by more small waterfalls. There were a couple of hardy souls swimming in the pool - at the bottom of the gorge, the temperature drops and the water must have been icy! We drove back to camp, intending to take some late afternoon photos at Knox Gorge but we found that the road was still closed because of the storm.

Looking back at the stormy weather we escaped from

Looking back at the stormy weather we escaped from

View into Dales Gorge from the steps to the falls

View into Dales Gorge from the steps to the falls

Fortescue Falls from the steps

Fortescue Falls from the steps

Judith on her way down to the falls

Judith on her way down to the falls

Banded ironstone formation with spinifex

Banded ironstone formation with spinifex

Fortescue - there always has to be someone wearing red!

Fortescue - there always has to be someone wearing red!

Pool above Fortescue Falls

Pool above Fortescue Falls

The bands in the rock are much narrower in some places

The bands in the rock are much narrower in some places

Fern Pool with brave folk under the falls

Fern Pool with brave folk under the falls

The waterfalls at Fern Pool

The waterfalls at Fern Pool

Looking up, we could see that the stom had just about passed by

Looking up, we could see that the stom had just about passed by

A solitary fold in banded ironstone

A solitary fold in banded ironstone

On our last day, a trip into Tom Price (WA's highest town at 747 metres above sea level) was necessary as we needed to refuel, ready for departure the next day. On the way we stopped at Mt Bruce (Western Australia's second highest mountain) and clambered up to the lookout (well short of the summit!), from which we could see Marandoo mine site in the distance. A little further on, we came to a sign to RIP Lookout and found an unusual site for people to pay tribute to friends who had died. We dropped into the Visitor Centre at Tom Price to check out the condition of Railway Road as we had hoped to use that to get to Karratha. We were told that for the most part it was "OK" but that the last stretch was in very poor condition and we were recommended to avoid it. We had expected Tom Price to be a rough and ready town, like some other mining towns we have been to in our travels. However, it was quite pleasant and, in hindsight, we would probably have been better staying in a motel here than at the Eco-Retreat, although the latter did provide some lovely night sky viewing which Tom Price could not have come near!

View to Marandoo mine site

View to Marandoo mine site

Part of one of the many, very long, ore trains encountered in the Pilbara

Part of one of the many, very long, ore trains encountered in the Pilbara

Typical terrain around Mt Bruce

Typical terrain around Mt Bruce

large_e7d44550-ff22-11e9-965f-dd42d7e043a0.jpgTwo views on RIP Lookout

Two views on RIP Lookout

From Tom Price we drove to Hamersley Gorge. This is not as deep as some of the other gorges we had seen but the gorge walls were spectacular in colour and form with a lovely pool at the bottom. The walk down into the gorge was again relatively challenging for us in parts and we were glad to have our walking poles with us, for balance if nothing else!

View to the top of the gorge from the start of the walk down

View to the top of the gorge from the start of the walk down

Termite mound, grasses and trees at the start of the walk

Termite mound, grasses and trees at the start of the walk

First clear sight of the incredible folding visible in the rock formations

First clear sight of the incredible folding visible in the rock formations

A closer view of the folds

A closer view of the folds

Lovely tree-fringed pool at the bottom of the gorge

Lovely tree-fringed pool at the bottom of the gorge

The pool squeezes through as the gorge walls narrow

The pool squeezes through as the gorge walls narrow

"Unfolded" bands of rock form a natural slide into the pool

"Unfolded" bands of rock form a natural slide into the pool

Rich colours in the folded banded ironstone

Rich colours in the folded banded ironstone

Steve still needing his net, although flies not quite as bad as in the Red Centre

Steve still needing his net, although flies not quite as bad as in the Red Centre

On the way back to camp, we saw more birds than we had seen in our entire stay. We saw surprisingly little wildlife during our stay and put it down to the dry weather conditions which tend to make animals scatter far and wide in search of food and water. I would love to be able to return in Spring when it must be fabulous with all the wildflowers.

Very red terrain on the way back to camp

Very red terrain on the way back to camp

A tangle of spinifex

A tangle of spinifex

A small shrub gave splashes of orange through the bush

A small shrub gave splashes of orange through the bush

Mulla Mulla flowering along the roadside

Mulla Mulla flowering along the roadside

A Mulla Mulla flowerhead

A Mulla Mulla flowerhead

Our last night in the restaurant in Karijini

Our last night in the restaurant in Karijini

As noted above, instead of taking a more direct route to Karratha, we had to retrace our steps and go via Port Hedland, so a relatively long driving day. We finally reached Karratha where we stayed in a, reasonably priced, 'de luxe' studio at Discovery Parks. This was lovely accommodation, even having our own washing machine rather than the usual communal, and often heavily used, machines in other places.

Pilbara landscape on our way to Karratha

Pilbara landscape on our way to Karratha

One of the larger road trains we met with

One of the larger road trains we met with

Posted by SteveJD 15:30 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls trees rocks western_australia gorges grasses karijini_national_park spinifex Comments (0)

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