Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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24 May 2006 - Karijini National Park

Location map The night was very dark with no moon. After breakfast I drove to the lookout over the Circular Pool which I had left out of yesterday's activities. Then I returned to van, coupled up and towed the A'van to Savannah Camping Ground at the other end of the national park. This was a dirt road for most of the way; quite good red gravel which had been graded since the last heavy rain. It was now dry and vehicles kicked up lots of red dust. One creek running over the road made me very glad of the Territory's high ground clearance and all-wheel drive. At Savannah Camping Ground we selected a site and set up for one night.

I spent the rest of the morning at the Weano Recreation area, about 11 km away, walking between lookouts over the various gorges and going down tracks into the gorges themselves. Walking around the tops of the gorges was fairly easy; some of the tracks in the gorges were more difficult. The literature advised which tracks were harder.

Karijini's attraction is the deep gorges cut by streams into the red Pilbara rock. The narrowest gorge I saw was about five metres wide at the bottom, most were about 20 to 30 metres across. Sides are either vertical, bare, bright red rock from top to bottom or have a spinifex-covered upper slope above a vertical face. Most gorges have some flowing water in them and in many places water seeps out of the rocks. Many gorges begin at waterfalls inside the park; the waterfalls are another attraction.

Since December 2005 this part of Australia has had three or four times the average annual rainfall so it has been well and truly watered. Consequently, a variety of plants are flowering, especially acacias (99 species of acacias, i.e. wattles, are recorded from Karijini) as well as many others. Waterfalls and creeks are running and the region doesn't look much like the arid desert it is classified as. By chance, we had picked a good time to visit.

After lunch I visited a couple of the more widely separated gorges (Joffre and Knox). By now I had come to expect something different, but delightful, each time I visited a new gorge. I was not disappointed. Joffre Gorge was particularly striking with a waterfall in a grey rock basin at the head of the gorge made mainly of red rock. The lookout at Knox Gorge is at a right angle bend so visitors can look along the gorge in both directions from near the middle.

While we were sitting outside the van late in the afternoon the collector came around for camping fees. She said that Karijini is not well known; most of their visitors come from Western Australia and they do not get a lot of eastern state visitors. As well, 35 kilometres of gravel road to Savannah Campground and more to the gorges in this part of Karijini, discourages some visitors. I believe that Karijini is at least as good as Katherine Gorge, Kakadu and Uluru in the gorges and rocks themselves. The pathways and tracks have been thoughtfully devised and implemented but more thought could be given to documentation for visitors; especially a single document comprehensively describing the venues similar to that provided at Uluru and Kakadu (and I think at Katherine Gorge).

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Joffre falls Joffre Falls at the head of Joffre Gorge.
Joffre falls Joffre Gorge from Oxer Lookout.
Weano Gorge The bottom of Weano Gorge still flooded after the wet season.
Upper slope Upper slopes of gorges covered in spinifex, snappy gums and termite nests.
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