Day 80 – Port Hedland to Karijini National Park

Unfortunately we’d had a pretty terrible nights sleep due to the terrifying sound of the tide roaring in just below our camp. It had risen from 0.6 metres to 5.8 metres in 6 hours during the night – yikes! And the wind had roared as the tides rose and we both lay awake at various stages throughout the night listening and wondering if that wave that just crashed was getting closer or further away from the last one. We discovered in the morning that it must have come pretty close, but everything was dry and we weren’t swept out to the ocean so all was good. The heat started to ramp up quickly and the sandflies appeared with a vengeance, so we packed up as quickly as we could and retreated in to Port Hedland’s town centre for coffee at the Silver Star cafe – a good coffee spot in an old train carriage in a park – and waited for the bread and supplies to be put on the shelves at the supermarket before jumping back in the car and hitting the white stripes yet again.

Comings and goings at Port Hedland

Comings and goings at Port Hedland

A huge salt mine at Port Hedland

A huge salt mine at Port Hedland

On our way out we drove along the railway with it’s seemingly endless trains carrying loads from the mines to the port from the whole Pilbara region. Some of those trains had at least 150 carriages strung together, and we read online that on average they were around 3km long. The longest was nearly 8km long! Insane. We were heading south, inland to Karijini National Park, which is WA’s largest park. We were keen to do some gorge walking and have a much needed swim. The sun blasted down on us during the drive and we winced past many road trains to-ing and fro-ing from the gold, coal, iron ore, mineral and gas mines. Many more chips in the windshield later (but nothing too serious thankfully) we arrived at Karijini National Park and stopped in at the visitor centre to find a bit out about the indigenous and agricultural history of the area, which overlapped a fair bit. We also sussed out what was achievable given it was the middle of the day and very hot. With some advice from the lady behind the desk we headed to Dale’s Gorge to walk up to Fortesque Falls and Fern Pool along the inside of the gorge, which was beautiful.

Dale's Gorge at Karijini

Dale’s Gorge at Karijini

Inspecting rock piles at Dale's Gorge

Inspecting rock piles at Dale’s Gorge

Clambering trees over the river

Clambering trees over the river

The rock in the gorge was amazing – so heavy and metallic, laden with iron ore no doubt, and had veins of asbestos running through it which was fascinating. There were some very crazy formations along the way from erosion of wind, time, water – it created these natural steps and cube like boulders everywhere, which was really unusual.

Beautiful rock formations

Beautiful rock formations

The view from the top of Fortesque Falls

The view from the top of Fortesque Falls

Lovely fig trees at Karijini

Lovely fig trees at Karijini

We walked past some beautiful huge fig trees who had somehow grown through the rocks in the side of the gorge to a huge size. When we reached Fern pool we finally had our swim in the lovely cool waters and a wash under the waterfall before walking back as the sun was setting on the rocks.

The incredible Fern Pool

The incredible Fern Pool

Paperbark trees!

Paperbark trees!

On our way out we came across some awesome colourful lizards and a very bold water monitor sunning himself on the rocks who was totally happy for us to get all up in his face and photograph him.. a lot. I really like goannas and all related reptiles, okay?! They’re pretty much the best.

Making water monitor friends

Making water monitor friends

Such a beautiful fellow!

Such a beautiful fellow!

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More amazing rock formations

More amazing rock formations

Sun setting on the rocks

Sun setting on the rocks

Nature's building bricks

Nature’s building bricks

Walking back along Dale's Gorge

Walking back along Dale’s Gorge

Asbestos veins in the iron ore rocks

Asbestos veins in the iron ore rocks

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After we clambered back up out of the gorge, we made for the campsite to sign in with the lovely camp supervisor volunteers who had arrived there a few months ago on holiday and never left because they loved it so much. Legends! Smash cooked up a mean chilli and we watched the stars and enjoyed the quiet and stillness of the outback again.

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