Sunday, April 22, 2018

Perth to Darwin - Days 18-19 - Karajini National Park

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For the next two day we planned to explore Karajini National Park and its system of gorges and pools.  It was not as hot as the previous day but we still decided to get an early start.   It is an hour to the park from Tom Price were we have been staying and during the drive, looking at the map, and assessing our time frame, we decided that if we could find a campsite in the park, hopefully on the east side, that we would be able to get an very early start on our ten hour drive to Broome in a couple of days.  

We reached the park and headed to the first system of gorges.   The terrain was hilly and there were lot of road trains whizzing past of high speeds.  At times the wind tunnel affect required an extra hand on the wheel to keep the van fro swerving.  

Like mini grand canyons canyons the gorges split into three sections where three different river system merged.  The trailheads were nicely landscaped with lots of parking and covered picnic areas.

The trails were well marked to the lookout points where we could see the massive gorges from above. 

We opted for a Class 5 trail, the most difficult in the grading system, and headed down into the canyon. 

 After getting to the bottom and wandering the steam for a bit we realized that we would not be going any further without getting everything wet...and we had not brought along our dry bags.
We turned and went upstream a bit marveling at all of the shelves and cutout ledges. 

Back on top we drove to the visitor center where we learned that there was probably space at the eastern campground.  We headed in that direction and after securing a remote spot, set up camp with our first success deployment of the canvas and poles we purchased back in Perth four weeks earlier. 

With camp set up we headed for the highlight of the day...the pools at the bottom of Dales Gorge. 

This time we had a fully constructed stairwell to the falls...although it was easily 600 steps down. 

There were dozens of folks sunbathing on the ledges and the water coming over the shelves was impressive.  There were plenty of folks in the pool as well. 

At the park ranger's suggestion we opted to head further in to Fern Pool. 

And we were not disappointed.  A beautiful and serene location, sacred to the aboriginal people, and the swimming pool were perfect and we took our time and enjoyed the water.

Later we hiked back to the previous pool, decided to go back up to the top and then down the other other gorge. 

Circular Pool is world renown and it proved to be inspiring.  A huge round cavern whose roof fell in millions of years ago forms the pool and an underground spring keeps it full.  We took the arduous train from the top and traversed the cliff side down to the bottom through a series of roughly carved steps and ladders.   

We joined up with a family from Ireland and walked and over the steps, ledges, and layered canyon bottom. 

At the pool we got wet again and really enjoyed the swim along with several other hikers. 


 A climb back up to the top of the plateau and back to came for a late supper and a star filled night sky.  The Milky Way was splendid with no surrounding ambient light source.

Having accomplished in one day what we thought would take two, we settled in for the night with plans for a semi-early departure to Port Hedland and beyond in the morning.

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