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Chasing Slow: Part 8 – Gorgeous Gorges of Karijini

Karijini Gorges - Swimming at Hancock Gorge

It’s time to head inland after spending most of the last 11,000 kms along the coast. We’re heading west from from Exmouth to Tom Price, then into the Karijini National Park to go explore some most stunning, remote and oldest gorges in the country!

It was a long & dull 600+ km drive from Yardie Homestead near Exmouth to the caravan park at Tom Price, the closest town on the western side of Karijini NP, taking around 10 hours including fuel stops, checking out any campgrounds along the way and calling into Beasley River to take a swim, although the river ran dry and we moved on with the air con.

We managed to find a short cut in the form of a rough corrugated dirt road, although the time that we saved came at a cost to the wallet, as we ended up popping both of our back tyres.

After a day of driving through what seemed to be the same landscape on repeat: small scrubby bush and red dirt, we found some relief when we arrived at Tom Price, being greeted with lush grass, stunning rocky mountains and plenty of trees! It was a sight for sore eyes, although Tom Price is one of the hottest places in Australia, the place felt like an oasis and provided a decent morale boost!

Mountains Behind Tom Price Tourist Park

We set up camp, poured some wine and took a well deserved dip in the pool!

Read more about Tom Price Tourist Park.

We woke up with a hunger to go see some of the gorges at nearby Karijini, but our priorities were calling and we spent the day getting back to some camping gear enquiries and making some much needed repairs to the forester after the short cut antics.

The next morning, it was all systems go, we dropped Papi off at the kennels and off we went to the national park!

Karijini is a large national park with the attractions and camp grounds spread a fair distance apart, so we had to choose a good location to set up camp. We decided on Dales Campground because it’s close to Dales Gorge, which has several good swimming spots that’ll act as a decent treat at the end of our hot days of exploring.

We got the caravan set up by 10am, decided to leave the nearby gorge for the next day and went straight to where excited us most, Weano Gorge & Hancock Gorge!

Both Weano and Hancock are just near each other, each gorge has a short trail where you get to walk along the base then need to swim to get out to the end. Hancock is the highlight, so we saved it for last and started with Weano Gorge.

Eva was a bit excited and walked straight through just about every pool along the trail, where as I scaled across the rocks on the edge, keeping my feet dry, then we got to a point where we had to take off the boots and start swimming!

Happily following Eva’s lead, I escaped the heat and dived straight it, unluckily enough, I swallowed a mouth full of the stagnant water and ended up pretty crook for the rest of our time at Karijini, it gave me an instant saw throat, runny nose and the shakes! The place was just too stunning for that to stop us, so we kept on exploring.

VIDEO OF THE WEANO GORGE TRACK WILL BE UP SOON! CHECK BACK IN LATE NOVEMBER/EARLY DECEMBER.

Read more about the Weano Gorge Trail.

Weano was an incredible warm up, and although I couldn’t keep my body still on nose dry, we walked over to Hancock Gorge and the place blew our minds!

Hancock Gorge twists and turns with large rocky cliffs on either side and narrow passages to walk, climb and swim through. It’d have to be a clear highlight of anywhere we’ve been so far in Australia!

VIDEO OF THE HANCOCK GORGE TRACK WILL BE UP SOON! CHECK BACK IN LATE NOVEMBER/EARLY DECEMBER.

Read more about the Hancock Gorge trail.

We spent the whole next day exploring Dales Gorge and although we had heard less of this place, it was also worthy of being added to the highlights list!

With the caravan on the back of the car, we parked just near a lookout that gave us views down into the gorge over circular pool, then made our way down the steep decent into the base of Dales Gorge. It was about 40°C, but there were plenty of trees and lots of shade, so we didn’t really feel it.

Dales Gorge

The trail took us for kilometres through the centre of the gorge where we walked beside a creek, climbed up and down boulders, over cascades and then we reached the first place that we took a swim for the day: Fortescue Falls.

I’m sure that swimming in a natural plunge pool below a stunning waterfall in a remote national park sounds amazing, but it still doesn’t begin to express how enjoyable it was to jump into fresh cold water on a damn hot day after walking all morning – Fortescue Falls; Heaven on Earth!

After a lot of swimming and sun baking on the rocks, we put the thongs on and trekked a short distance past the waterfall to Fern Pool – another Karijini highlight!

Swimming at Fern Pool

Fern Pool became our resting spot right up until the heat of the day began to back off, it was well needed as I was still feeling pretty bloody sick from swallowing the dirty water at Hancock Gorge, although our spirits were in the right place.

We then made our way up out of Dales Gorge followed a trail along the top of the cliffs edge, right back to our car.

VIDEO OF THE DALES GORGE TRACK WILL BE UP SOON! CHECK BACK IN LATE NOVEMBER/EARLY DECEMBER.

Read more about Dales Gorge Loop Walk.

We were going to spend a night at a roadside rest stop in the national park before heading north the next day, but our hearts were aching for Papi, so we drove back to Tom Price and picked the little feller up from the kenel.

There were now only a couple of bush camps to choose from. We started by heading to R.I.P. Lookout, the place had beautiful views of a large rocky mountain range, but the campground was surrounded by hundreds of rocks and stones where people had left R.I.P. messages to late loved ones, so it creeped us out a little bit and instead we settled for a hot patch of sand just out of Tom Price called Not Daz and Shaz’s Stop.

Read more about R.I.P. Lookout Free Campground.

Read more about Not Daz & Shaz’s Free Campground.

With my body hardly holding itself together, Eva cooked up a meal and we called in a movie night. We were contemplating hiking up Mount Bruce the next morning, but had a lot of doubt that I’d make back to the car still breathing, so rather than wasting away at a campground in full exposure to the sun, we set the plans to get up early, make the most of the cars air con and see how far north we could drive the next day, with Broome up next on the agenda!

If you’re thinking of heading to Karijini (& we suggest you do!), then take a look at this brief guide to visiting Karijini National Park. If you’ve been there before or have any questions about the place, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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