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Karijini National Park Nature formed over billions of years

By Kris Madden & Georgia Rickard

Set in the heart of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Karijini National Park is the state's second largest national park and will take you on a journey through two billion years of the Earth's natural history. Descend into ancient cavernous gorges, scale some of the oldest rocks on the planet, paddle in crystal-clear waterways and cool off with a swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Camp under an outback sky or enjoy back-to-nature luxury in an eco-retreat. There is also an amazing network of walking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, that wind through some of Australia’s most awesome scenery.

Map of Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Swim in freshwater pools

Located within Dales Gorge on the eastern side of Karijini National Park, you'll find a wonderful swimming hole at Fortescue Falls. From the carpark, it will take you roughly one hour to walk down a staircase and along clear paths to the falls, but you'll be well-rewarded for your efforts. You can also swim nearby in the refreshing, spring-fed Fern Pool, or tackle the two-hour return hike to picturesque Circular Pool, at the gorge's other end.

Stay at an eco-retreat

In the heart of Karijini National Park (within walking distance of Joffre Gorge) you'll find Karijini Eco Retreat. This haven, owned by the local Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, has a range of accommodation options, from camping sites to deluxe eco-tents with full facilities. The on-site open air restaurant serves hearty meals with a traditional outback flavour.

See Oxer Lookout’s unforgettable views 

The short walk to Oxer Lookout will gift you with spectacular views over the junction of four gorges: Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre. Many consider the view from Oxer Lookout to be one of the most spectacular sights in Western Australia; the vantage point offers a unique perspective of the area's enormity and grandeur. Oxer Lookout is also easily accessible via an 800 metre (half a mile) walk from the Weano Gorge Day Use Area carpark.

Tour Hancock Gorge

The hike into Hancock Gorge has been described as a “journey to the centre of the earth” for its steep descent into multi-hued, layered rock. After climbing down a ladder you'll walk deep into the gorge itself through narrow chambers and past rock pools, before arriving at Kermit’s Pool (named for its striking green hue), where you'll want to take many photographs and perhaps a cooling swim. As this walk can be challenging, it's advisable to explore Hancock Gorge accompanied by a local guide; tours can be booked at Karijini Eco Retreat.

Wander among wildflowers

Karijini’s rugged red gorges boast abundant native vegetation such as spinifex, mulga, ghost gums and fig trees. Between June and September, colourful wildflowers such as wattles, lemongrass and northern bluebells bloom across the landscape. You may also spot rock wallabies, dingoes and the abundant birdlife that call Karijini home.

Swim in a natural spa

The natural, heart shaped "spa pool" at Hamersley Gorge is coloured a striking ice-blue and is so named for its natural bubbling fed by a gorgeous waterfall. It's a challenging one-kilometre (0.6-mile) hike through a thin, tree-lined chasm to get here via the Hamersley Gorge Walk, but you'll see why people often return here: spa pool is a haven for bathers and photographers alike.

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