Get ready for a long story below…
After departing Exmouth we made the journey inland towards Tom Price. Along the way we stopped and stayed one night at House Creek, a small rest stop between Exmouth and Paraburdoo, we had a little fire, played some games and enjoyed a pretty spectacular sunset.
After waking early, which seems to be a thing now (we could never wake up before 7am for work but now we are awake before 7am most days, ugh) we made our way towards Tom Price, stopping in the small mining town of Paraburdoo for lunch and then continuing on our way.
There was no real intention to stay in Tom Price, as we did not know too much about the town and were quite keen on getting to Karijini, however once we arrived we realised how lovely a town it was, explored the beautiful scenery with a drive up Mt Nameless and thought maybe a shower might be a good idea after our bush night and our week ahead without facilities.
We stopped in at the Tom Price Caravan Park, where the lady from reception stated they had the warmest showers for miles, which they did and we were thankful for, as it had been a little chilly the night before. In fact that particular night it got down to 0.7 degrees, Lianne and I were literally shivering all night and a little sleep deprived the day after!
In the morning we headed straight to the chemist and brought ourselves a hot water bottle each, Alex on the other hand was fine sleeping in his usual PJ shorts, such a hot man.
So after our refreshing night into Karijini we went, only 73.7km I believe from the Tom Price center. It is really a beautiful drive into Karijini and even into Tom Price with the mountain ranges all along the roadside.
We had heard from many people that Karijini was extremely busy, as it was peak season for the park and given it was the school holidays, however they had set up overflow campsites which was promising as we were assured they would not turn us away. Luckily enough we did not need to stay in overflow, we arrived at around 10:30am, early enough to secure ourselves a really nice spot at Dales Campground, in bay 70 in the Dingo Loop. Only issue we had was the drop toilet right across from our site, and given it had been busy with school holiday rush and the fact that Karijini is normally in its peak during Winter, the toilet was quite full…at random moments over the 3 nights there we endured some not so pleasant smells.
Never the less our campsite was pretty spectacular in it’s positioning, we were a very small walk away from Dales Gorge which we visited in the afternoon we arrived.
Now during the days it was spectacularly warm, with temperatures between 24-28 degrees, however the water in the gorges we visited were quite literally like a slap in the face full of ice, that after a few moments can become quite pleasant, as long as you keep moving. Otherwise you can feel as though your limbs are detached, after a few moments of pins and needles, luckily we still have all of our limbs.
At first I know I was a little worried to swim in such cold water, and in pools where I could not see the bottom, but Lianne was the bold one and took the first dive on our first afternoon in Dales Pool at Fortescue Falls. Alex and I followed after her courageous dip and we enjoyed an ice bath in anamphitheater type waterfall setting, it was really cool.
On our second day in Karijini we drove to the other side of the national park to Hancock Gorge where we hiked through the Spider Walk and swam in Kermit’s Pool. We then went onto hike in Weano Gorge where we explored the Handrail Pool. Both of these gorges we thought were quite adventurous in the level of hiking required, for us who have never really hiked before I think we did a pretty spectacular job taking on quite awkward positions and not slipping or falling at all, I must note that I did however walk right into a low hanging tree branch one day but it must also be noted that I was being very cautious in positioning my feet that I simply forgot to look up, common mistake don’t you think?
Each gorge was gorge-ous and is difficult to describe in just a few words. However we were taken back each time at how stunning and individual each gorge was and the pools we swam in were of course again freezing but spectacularly clear and refreshing!
On our third day it was Lianne’s 24th birthday! Alex woke up around 3am to set up some balloons and signs to surprise her in the morning, the funny thing being that he sat in the car to blow up the balloons to ensure he did not wake up Li. After everything was blown up he carefully got out and whilst hanging everything up, Alex heard some rustling in the bushes nearby, with a look over his shoulder he saw a dingo just strolling around. We had been warned that the national park contained dingo’s and that we were to keep all our rubbish inside and not leave food out. This did ensure we were cautious and of course I myself had been a little scared each night going to the toilet, due to the smell…but also thinking I would encounter a dingo, it never happened thankfully but Alex was ‘fortunate’ enough to see one.
So anyway, that morning we woke, had a nice birthday breakfast for Lianne and then headed again to the other side of the national park to Joffre Gorge – Jijingunha, where we hiked the most difficult track yet in my eyes, right down a cliff face into a stunning waterfall gorge. We had the entire gorge to ourselves, to take some spectacular pictures and of course take a freezing but refreshing dip in the beautiful pool at the base of the waterfall.
We stopped in at Knox and Kalamina Gorge, noting that Knox was a little bit too steep for us after Joffre, but strolling through Kalamina and enjoying the beautiful views.
For many who know me I am deathly afraid of heights, somehow throughout these few days hiking down and throughout gorges I did not have too much problem, however when Alex and Lianne went to stand on lookouts each time, just strolling right up to the rail and leaning over to take pictures, I almost ran in the opposite direction. They definitely got some spectacular shots for me to see at points through their phone screen. From the many steep vantage points, we all agreed that Oxer viewpoint and Junction Pool were by far the best. We shed a small tear for the amazing photos that could have been taken if only Alex’s drone was still with us.
But let me get back to Lianne’s birthday! After another wonderful day of hiking and exploring we headed back to camp. Lianne was not aware yet but Alex had booked a table at the Karijini Eco Retreat Restaurant, so we showered up using a very nifty shower bag Bob brought us. Of course it was ice cold but better than going out looking like we did let me tell you, as everything we were wearing and almost all of our clothes were covered in red dirt, and in Lianne’s case her only pair of jeans now had stylish knee rips.
We headed to the restaurant and had a delicious dinner, with the restaurant manager standing up in front of everyone with some spiel about park information if people needed help and then changing the subject to “It’s Lianne’s birthday so lets sing to her”.
We ended the night with Lianne making a few calls to The Netherlands, using the only technology available to us that worked, an old telephone booth in the middle of the bush.
The next day was our last in Karijini, we headed back into Tom Price, used some Wi-Fi, stocked up on some food and then headed north towards Millstream Chichester National Park. Along the way we stopped off at the last gorge, Hamersley Gorge where we had a small swim in the little waterfall pool.
We continued on northish and along the way came across a train crossing. Now I must note that 5 or 10 minutes before we came across the train track, Lianne and Alex were talking about how cool it would be if they saw a massively long train. Of course we stopped at the track to take a picture but low and behold Lianne and Alex’s hopes came true with a train just about to pass. There was a little excitement between them both, Alex started recording the train to show just how long it was, however we did not realise that now we were waiting for the train we would be there for a little bit of time, 10 minutes later it was still going, however shortly after it passed and we kept on going.
We stayed one night at Stargazers campsite in Millstream Chichester National Park that as the camps name suggests, had the most spectacular display of stars I have ever seen. The next day we headed to Python Pool, and out of all the gorges we visited in the past week, it was by far our favourite to swim at.
We worked up an appetite, swimming and being on holidays, so we set up our table and chairs on a lookout with a great view and ate some lunch.
Our trip through Tom Price was a lovely surprise, Karijini exceeded every expectation we had, even though we had no idea what to expect and Millstream was a lovely way to finish off a great week in the bush, swimming in gorges and having everything we owned covered in extremely stubborn red dirt.