Hiking & Camping In Karijini National Park

Hiking & Camping In Karijini National Park

The Pilbara region of Western Australia is known for its deep gorges and vibrant red earth, rich in natural resources. Petroleum, natural gas and iron ore deposits found underground in Pilbara make mining big business in the area and the ochre earth carries the heavy scars of the industry. We spent time in the area camping and hiking in Karijini national park.

Dales Gorge Karijini

Driving inland to the magnificent sweeping gorges of the park you pass towns and airports built to support the mining economy. The roads swarm with convoys of workers being transported to the mines and oversized wagons laden with giant machinery. We were forced to pull off the road on several occasions to make way for oversized loads carrying giant drills. They were escorted by cars and motorbikes and the whole scene would have made a very impressive Lego set. 

Many of the national parks in Australia have camp sites. They are usually inexpensive with basic facilities and located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, making them an ideal base for hiking. We knew there was a camp site in Karijini national park and arrived just before sunset hoping to get a pitch. We drove into the park, down several deserted lanes with the sun at that awkward point in the sky where it blinds you from every angle. Dusk is the worst time to drive in Australia as the native wildlife are at their most active, coming down to the road side to play chicken with the tourists. We slowly rolled our way into the park squinting at the sun and hoping we could avoid the courting kangaroos out for a sunset stroll. We reached the turn off for the camp site and saw a large ‘roo who appeared to be reading a sign that said “Camp Site Full.” Not wanting to anger the kanga, we continued past the turn off into the park. Hoping we could find a place to camp for the night. 

Eventually we came across a friendly looking park ranger who told us that because of the school holidays, the camp site was indeed full. However the resourceful folk in the national park had organised a temporary overflow camp in nearby scrub land. What he failed to mention was that the whole of Western Australia and their mates where camping there. When we got there we quickly found out that “scrub land” translates as a dusty field full of carnivorous vegetation waiting to attack unsuspecting campers. A maze of vehicles and old stock fences covered the field and we struggled to find a space to park up before darkness surrounded the camp. There were two toilets servicing around 200 people in the emergency encampment. Finding them in the dark through the maze of vehicles, fences, tents and people whilst being attacked by the razor sharp undergrowth below was nothing short of our very own hunger games. Painfully spikey thorns stuck fast to our clothes and razor sharp grasses sliced our skin with papercut precision. Some campers called out directions to us, kindly helping us to clear each of the obstacles and reach our destination. Others clearly had their own agenda and were happy to see people fall to the ground clutching their slashed bodies, cut to ribbons from the vegetation.

Dales Gorge Tree

The following morning we woke early and decided to get a head start on the masses at one of the gorges. Whilst most of our fellow campers where still navigating their way from the cornucopia we began a peaceful walk around the rim of Dales Gorge. The deep red cliffs jostled with the bright morning sky for our attention and soon the memory of the camp ground was far from our minds. We followed a path down into the depths of the gorge, climbing over large slabs of weathered rock and up small waterfalls. We came to a deep pool surrounded by green ferns and filled with icy cold water untouched by the sun’s rays. We continued through the gorge, using stepping stones to avoid the water, climbing through fallen trees and crossing the valley several times. Our head start paid off and we only saw a few other people down there until the end of our hike. As we reached a huge natural rock staircase which would lead us out of the gorge, we saw many of our fellow campers beginning their hike in the opposite direction. We climbed up through the waterfall and headed back to our van for a well-deserved rest, feeling rather smug about our early start.  

25 Responses

  1. Love Karijini and am lucky enough to live on it’s doorstep!!! 🙂

  2. I adore your blog! Me and my lady are new to traveling and it is always inspiring to see other couples living life the way we want to (eventually). This place looks beautiful! I am definitely subscribing, I cannot wait to see where you all go next 🙂

    • Wandering Wives

      Thank you! Travelling together is the best decision we made. If you need any advice just get in touch 🙂

  3. What a gorgeous place.

  4. Came here to say thank you for following Indifferent Ignorance and ended up reading quite a few posts. 🙂 Love your photos and your blog’s concept – good luck with it!

    Francesca

  5. I live in Australia and am still stunned by the beauty of our country. The photographs here are breath-takingly awesome. The desert has its own unique wonder. And to see eucalypts growing in snow covered fields is rather surreal. I was born in FInland so I expected to see fir trees on my first trip to Aussie snow country.
    Love the name and the flavour of your blog. Thank you for stopping by mine and choosing to stay 🙂

  6. Your photography is so incredible. What camera do you use? I know it’s not the camera but the eye, but I’d still like to know.

  7. I love your pictures, this looks beautiful! Australia is definitely on my list!

  8. Fantastic photos. I am woefully ignorant of Australian geography so I was not expecting to see the red rock! A beautiful gorge and what sounds like a wonderful hike.

    • Wandering Wives

      It’s such a massive country, goes from beach to mountains to red desert. We weren’t expecting it to be that way when we got there. There is so much to explore we didn’t manage to get everywhere in a year long trip. We did our very best though!

  9. Gorgeous! It reminds me of Zion in Utah, carnivorous plants and all (teddy bear cholla, anyone?)

  10. humourous article and fab photos as usual.

  11. Gorgeous colors! Australia is on my bucket list 🙂

  12. Amazing picture! Thank you for following, ciao, Celeste

  13. amazing photos. i cant wait to explore.

  14. Thank you for the article, I would love to travel to Australia. I love your photos

  15. This place looks amazing- would love to visit one day! I haven’t been to Australia yet but that area of the world is on my bucket list! Love the pictures and overview– thank you!

  16. Wow! Fantastic scenery!

  17. Karijini is like a wonderland, one of Australia’s secret places.

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