Hike through Windjana Gorge in the Kimberley
Just a short walk north out of the Halls Gap town centre, you’ll find a tall flowing waterfall about half-a-kilometre below Boroka Lookout.
Heading here in summer, you’ll probably only see a trickle but after some heavy rain or a few consistent days of light rain, you’ll notice a heavy flow. Regardless of the volume of water at Clematis Falls, it’s normally always a pretty wet place as it’s mostly sheltered from the sun with huge sandstone cliffs surrounding the 20 metre waterfall.
The trail to Clematis Falls is easy, but a beauty. You’ll be able to checkout plenty of typical Australian native plants and trees while the occasional curious Wallaby checks you out.
From the car park to the entrance of Hancock Gorge, it’s an easy walk along a gravel trail.
As you enter Hancock Gorge, you’ll need to go down a steep section, although no climbing is requited. Once you’ve made it inside the gorge, most of the trail is flat and easy to walk over, then at several times, you’ll be required to walk through large, shallow pools of water or if there hasn’t been a lot of rain, it’s possible to scale across the rocks on edge of the water.
There are plenty of areas that are extremely slippery, at times you’ll most likely be required to sit down and shimmy yourself across small sections as the mould won’t allow you to get across it by foot.
To get to the last section of the trail which can’t be missed, you’ll be required to swim, so if you want to take along a camera, be sure to bring a dry bag.
Anyone fit and agile shouldn’t have a problem completing this trail, as long as you’re prepared to get wet! It’s quite short, but allow plenty of time as there’s a lot to see. For something a little bit more accessible, give Weano Gorge a try, where you can either head into the gorge or walk along the top (the start of the Weano Gorge Walk is only several hundred metres from Hancock Gorge).
The entire trail is about 1.5 kms return, which includes a walk for a couple of hundred metres from the car park and day use area to get to the start of the gorge.
Keep in mind that the above distance includes returning back to the car park, whereas you can finish this hike and then head straight over to Weano Gorge, but due to Hancock Gorge being the highlight of the area, it’s recommended to start with Weano.
Other than a small decent to get down into the gorge and a few other very small, steep sections (for a couple of metres or so), there is very little elevation. The majority of the trail is along the base of the gorge.
There’s a large car park with plenty of room and toilet facilities, although there isn’t any drinking water available.
Just next to the car park are barbecues, picnic tables and several shelters to escape the sun.
Closest place to buy food & drinks
Hancock Gorge is inside the Karijni National Park, a very remote area. You won’t find any grocery stores or petrol stations, unless you head back out of the park, but there’s water and some basic snacks at the Karijini Visitor Centre, about 50 minutes away (you’ll also find phone and data service there too).
Dogs aren’t allowed anywhere inside the Kairjini National Park, although there are council operated kennels in Tom Price for just $20 per 24 hours.
Where to stay
Before starting the walk to Clematis Falls, it’s worth heading to the Botanic Gardens as you’ll be able to take a look at over 20 plants that are only found at the Grampians, then try to spot them out on your walk to the waterfall. This will also make you more vigilant and increase your chance of spotting some wildlife, such as Kangaroos, Lizards and Birds along the way.
Getting to Windjana Gorge from Fitzroy Crossing or Derby
Clematis Falls is only about a 15 minute walk from the Halls Gap Recreation Reserve (..the Cricket Oval covered in Kangaroos). You can park at the reserve and walk around the back of the oval, there’s just one path that then leads into the bush and heads almost directly to the waterfall. It’s just over a kilometre from the oval.
If you’re not just on a mission to get to Clematis Falls via the most direct route and have a couple of hours up your sleeve, then you’re in luck as you can take the long way round and head there when hiking the Chatauqua Peak Loop.
You can still start at the cricket oval and do the loop in reverse, otherwise the loop walk begins/finishes at the Botanic Gardens, heads over to Bullaces Glen, up to the stunning peak with a short ridge walk and back down the small mountain (200 metres elevation) to Clematis Falls. You even have the option of going around the peak to make the trail a little lighter on the legs and safer if you have young kids or clumsy friends along for the walk.