Be humbled by nature in Karijini National Park, in Western Australia’s Pilbara, where the earth has been cleaved and carved over two billion years. Discover the spectacular chasms, marbled rock tunnels, cool rock pools and sparkling waterfalls. Beneath the bright blue Pilbara skies, the craggy red landscape shelters abundant native vegetation, animals and birds. Camp here beneath the vast outback sky or enjoy back-to-nature luxury in an eco-retreat.
Sitting in the Hamersley Ranges, near the small town of Tom Price, Karijini National Park is best accessed on a 4WD tour. Lots of longer adventure tours depart Perth for the north-west, combining Karijini with attractions such as Monkey Mia on the Coral Coast and Broome and Kununurra in the Kimberley. You can also fly to Exmouth, Karratha, Newman, Paraburdoo (near Tom Price) or Broome to join a tour or hire a 4WD for a self-drive adventure.
Once you’ve entered the park, its wild, weathered landscapes are surprisingly accessible, with waterfalls, emerald pools and plunging gorges beginning just beyond the car park. There is also a wonderful network of walking trails, ranging from easy to arduous, snaking through the scenery.
It’s around an hour downhill to Dales Gorge, which shelters Fortescue Falls, the park's only permanent waterfall. At the bottom, you can swim in the spring-fed pools beneath Fortescue Falls or in nearby Fern Pool or tackle the two-hour return hike to picturesque Circular Pool, at the gorge’s other end.
Walk to Oxer Lookout for unforgettable views over the junction of four mighty gorges - Red, Weano, Joffre and Hancock. You can hike from here to steep, stunning Hancock Gorge, where the rocky chambers and underground waterways are best explored with a local guide. A slightly easier trail leads to Weano Gorge and the great swimming spot of Handrail Pool.
Short trails lead to lookouts over Joffre Gorge and Knox Gorge, or for more of a challenge you can hike to the gorges themselves. Walk around Kalimina Gorge, with its rich blues and red or swim in the natural spa pool at Hammersley Gorge. If you’re feeling energetic, the climb to Mt Bruce’s summit offers soaring views over the spinifex plains.
Spinifex, mulga, ghost gums and fig trees are just some of the native vegetation types you’ll see in and around Karijini’s rugged red gorges. Between June and September, colourful wildflowers such as rock fig, lemongrass and silver cadjeput also dance across the rocky landscape. Spot them along with native animals, such as rock wallabies, dingoes, lizards, goannas and abundant birdlife.
Go camping or stay in a luxurious eco-retreat not far from popular Weano, Hancock, Knox and Joffre Gorges. You can also get a deeper understanding of this ancient landscape at the visitor centre, which has interactive natural and cultural heritage displays.
However you experience it, you’ll be awe-struck by the forces of nature in Karijini National Park.