'There's nothing like forging through the ancient banded iron formations of Weano Gorge in Karijini National Park, WA.'
Karijini National Park was a shared favourite destination for American geologists Jill and Paul, who took their two teenage children on a six week camping trip through Western Australia. Determined to squeeze in an adventure before Paul began a three-month stint at Sydney University, the family flew to Perth before driving north in a hire car.
“My husband and I are both geologists, so we enjoy hiking through geological wonders. Our kids have grown up doing this with us and they love to explore,” Jill said.
Jill, Paul and the family loved hiking through the ancient landscape of Karijini National Park, which sits near the small town of Tom Price in Western Australia’s Pilbara. Jill described it as “the most incredible place”, and the family spent a week here, exploring the rugged red gorges, mighty waterfalls and sparkling waterholes. This is where Jill captured the photo of her son, Erik, clambering over the “Precambrian banded iron formations” of Weano Gorge.
“We camp because it stretches out the money so we can see more, but it also brings us very close as a family. We also learn so much wherever we go about nature, culture, history and from other travellers,” Jill explained.
On their Western Australian trip, Jill, Paul and the children also discovered the limestone Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, north of Perth, and saw “sand dunes swallowing Geraldton”. In the Shark Bay World Heritage area they met the friendly dolphins of Monkey Mia and were captivated by the ancient marine stromatolites of Hamelin Pool.
Further north the family stayed in Coral Bay and took snorkelling cruises out to Ningaloo Reef, spotting migrating whales and sting rays. Another favourite family destination was the south end of 80 Mile Beach, where local Aboriginal custodians have a rich and continuing presence. The entire beach is 220km long and sits between Port Hedland and the pearling port of Broome, where the family also visited.
The family travelled as far north as Geikie Gorge in the Kimberley, before looping back inland through Karijini National Park and Tom Price, where they toured the local iron-ore mine. In the state’s golden outback, they visited the grand old gold town of Kalgoorlie and saw Hoover House (where former US President Hoover once worked) in the nearby ghost town of Gwalia.
Memorable destinations along Western Australia’s south-west coast included Esperance, Cape Le Grand National Park and Lucky Bay, with its dreamy white sand. The family saw the giant tingle trees near Walpole and visited Calgardup Cave and Cape Leeuwin before driving back to Perth.
“We love Australia so much, it is always hard to leave. Our kids are heading off to college soon, but they will never forget the adventures we’ve had. We aren't wealthy and don't have a lot of nice things, instead we save our money and blow it on these unforgettable trips with our kids. It's worth it. We hope to return as a retired couple and do the grey migration round trip,” Jill said.