A quick guide to Karijini National Park
When people tell us there’s a place that we simply must visit, we usually take their recommendation with a pinch of salt, as there’s nothing worse for us than getting to a popular tourist spot and being sorely disappointed.
The exact opposite happened with Karijini National Park.
We’d flicked through stunning photographs on Instagram and overheard a small number of people singing its praises once on the road, but that was the extent of its publicity.
As it turns out, Karijini is magnificent.
Located approximately 660km from Exmouth and 1400km from Perth, make the long journey and you will be rewarded with unspoilt scenery, serene pools, rocky mountains and entertaining gorge trails that will make you feel like a kid again.
It’s difficult to explain Karijini in writing, and although photographs can’t begin to translate how incredible this park is, we will try and show you.
Conquering the second-tallest peak in WA takes about 3.5 hours (2 hours up, 1.5 down) and you will be able to see the Marandoo Mine Site as you traverse the grassy plain. Expect very rocky patches where you will be literally climbing up the side of the mountain, and look out for the kangaroos!
Mystical Fern Pool, Circular Pool and Fortescue Falls are the highlights in Dales Gorge. You can take the steps down into the gorge nearby Circular Pool Lookout and walk the full trail before returning to the car park once you get to the Fortescue Falls steps. We spent one full lazy day around Dales.
We climbed down to Joffre Falls early morning and we were the only ones there, which was pretty special. A rather steep descent leads to some tip toeing from side-to-side to avoid the shallow water downstream of the waterfall.
The trail is generally flat and easy, until you reach the simply-named Handrail Pool. You can take a dip across the pool and climb further round, but it gets more difficult and the twists in the rock mean you cannot see if what is ahead is worthwhile clambering to.
Don't be afraid to get wet - we had our shoes off and were wading in up to our thighs to get through certain parts of this trail. There's ladders, a spider walk near the end and a brilliant amphitheatre.
where to stay & other top tips
- Grab a leaflet from an information centre (either in Karijini or another town in North WA) or download here, so you can begin exploring as soon as you arrive.
- Fill up with fuel before you enter the park as there is nowhere to buy gas inside. Tom Price is the closest place with petrol supplies, about 60km from the west entrance.
- Likewise, the nearest supermarket is at Tom Price, so stock up on food and drink before you arrive at the park.
- Camp at Karijini Eco Retreat for $40 a night to explore the west side of the park, and stay at Dales for $10 a night per vehicle to explore the east – it will save you heaps of driving time.
- If you want to discover everything Karijini has to offer, get a 4WD or prepare for long, uncomfortable journeys to gorges and lookouts. We only had a shuddering 2WD and opted to miss Hamersley, Kalamina and Knox gorges, which we regret!
- It is possible to conquer Mount Bruce and see all of the gorges in two days if you, like us, are happy to explore all day and prepared to eat lunch on the road.
- If you plan to visit a number of National Parks, buy a $44 park pass which is valid for a month and lets you visit the majority of parks across Western Australia.