Karijini (Dales Gorge)September 5, 2017 in Australia
From Cape Keraudren we continued south to Port Hedland for a practical stop - water for the van, cool (i.e. almost cold!) showers for us, diesel for the car and a quick stop at Coles for more bread and fruit before heading off grid to Karijini National Park. Another long day in the car with road trains and road works to slow us down but luckily we had our new audiobook of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to help pass some of the time!
The scenery as we approached Karijini hinted that the drive had been worth it and we hoped that we wouldn't be too late to secure a spot in the campground. We arrived at Dales Campground about 3.30 and were pleased to discover we scored a great site in the "Kangaroo Loop" that only had neighbours on one side and easy access to the walking track on the other. The kids were thrilled with our red dirt + bush camp site and soon got to work getting suitably filthy playing "stations" and "caravan parks" with the Monster Trucks until dark. Another dinner outside, this time bug-free and with an amazing night sky including an almost full moon.
The next morning we decided to check out the local attractions at Dales Gorge. We walked from our campsite down to the day use area through masses of wildflowers in bloom - they were a pretty contrast to the burnt Mulga trees surrounding much of the campground. We checked out the view of the Circular Pool (to convince the kids it was worth walking back to!) and Three Ways Lookout before following the Gorge Rim trail to Fortescue Falls. It was a great walk - not too challenging, plenty of great vistas and the temperature was a very reasonable 25 degrees with a light breeze. We heard Fortescue Falls before we saw them, and we stopped at the lookout to admire them before heading down the stairs. Other walkers had mentioned the water was really cold (that seemed to be confirmed by only 2 people swimming and everyone else relaxing on the natural stone steps) so the kids voted to head slightly further up the Gorge to Fern Pool to swim there. Fern Pool was a lovely spot for a swim with a platform and ladder providing easy access to the water. Marley and Jen opted out of the swim and the others hopped into the clear, refreshing (!!) water and swam out to the small waterfall. There was a small cave behind the waterfall that you could sit in, and it was filled with the ferns the pool was named after. Jen and Marley relaxed on the platform ensuring they didn't get pooped on by the many dusty looking resident cockatoos roosting overhead!
After cooling down (to the point of freezing for Meg!), we walked back to Fortescue Falls and then crossed across the water to continue the walk back to Circular Pool along the bottom of the Gorge. Another easy walk, this was also picturesque as much of the trail was next to the running water or up against the amazing stone cliffs of the Gorge. We finished off at Circular Pool, another gorgeous spot, but deemed to cold for swimming, even by Roy! We retraced our steps and walked up the steep (but thankfully, short) track to Three Ways Lookout and back to our campsite. It ended up being about 8km of walking so the kids were very happy to spend the rest of the day doing some more scratching around in the red dirt! No showers at this campground, so sponge baths became mandatory before bed!Read more