Karijini National Park, The Pilbara Western Australia
Traditional Custodians: Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga people
There’s a special feeling you get when you are in the Australian outback, the vast land and solitude brings on a strange yet content type of vulnerability. It’s a time to relax a little, open up and welcome the dirt under your fingernails. Located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Karijini National Park is a 17-hour road trip from Perth. The drive alone is enough to quench a strong thirst for a good Aussie adventure, buzzing over cattle grids, dodging livestock and watching hazy sunsets will see you clocking up about 1400 kilometers of road each way. If you are strapped for time, you can catch a short 1 hour and 45 minute flight from Perth to Newman, hire a vehicle and take the 2 hour drive from there.
Karijini National Park is extremely rich in Aboriginal culture, with evidence of Aboriginal occupation dating back more than 20,000 years ago. Water run off comes in from all directions, giving life to lush vegetation, which grows amongst wind swept mountains and ancient gorges, forming Western Australia’s second largest national park. A countless number of trails give hikers an endless variety of experiences. While exploring the park you’ll find yourself scrambling across rock faces, wading through freezing cold water ways and floating on pools of shimmering sunlight while waterfalls flow overhead; Karijini is one of Australia’s oldest and by far, one of it’s most breath taking landscapes.
The park has two main camping areas, Dale’s Campground to the east and Savanna Campground to the west. Dale’s Gorge is just a short stroll away from Dale’s campground. Not far from the entry of the gorge lies Fern Pool; long amounts of sunlight throughout the day, a wooden deck with an entry ladder and a waterfall you can bathe under make it the warmest and most popular pool for swimming in throughout the park. An easy 1-hour trail through the gorge heading in the opposite direction will lead you to the more secluded and freezing cold Circular Pool. At twilight bats swoop and circle Fern Pool, a screeching black cloud breaks and reforms as they dance above the water, putting on a show that is worth grabbing a couple of beers and making a return trip into the gorge to check out. A day and a night is enough time to explore Dale’s Gorge and Campground.
The remaining gorges surround Savanna Campground in the west and are all within a short drive of one another. Slippery rocks and deep-water sections through the Weano and Hancock gorge trails make them the most challenging but all hard work pays off. Hand Rail Pool and Kermit’s Pool are waiting at the end of these trails and are two of the most spectacular rock pools in Australia. Huge 2 billion year old cliffs over shadow the pools, making the water painfully cold but the experience of jumping in is too special to pass up. Most of the gorges become more challenging as you travel further along them, eventually bottoming out into huge gullies and becoming too dangerous to continue. To take things to the next level guided tours are available and provide abseil access to areas that are otherwise off limits. In the evenings it’s time to sit back and relax at the campground and watch endless shooting stars fly through the sky while the sounds of howling dingoes echo off into the distance. Two days is enough time to experience all five of the gorges at the western end of the park, plus a day set aside to climb Mount Bruce.
Mount Bruce sits beside the western entry of the park and is the second highest peak in WA standing tall at 1,234 meters high. Climbing Mount Bruce is not for the faint hearted. Some parts of the climb are extremely steep, dangerous and terrifying. Slippery surfaces make it a challenging walk and a high level of fitness is required. It’s best to start the 10km return climb early in the morning as it can take up to six hours in total and temperatures rise quickly throughout the day. The summit provides the most incredible views in the region, looking back over the park towards the campgrounds and gorges make it an extremely rewarding and reflective hike to close off the trip.
High temperatures and the risk of flash floods are frequent in summer, therefore it is recommended to visit Karijini National Park in late autumn, winter and early spring.
We recognise and acknowledge Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga people as the Traditional custodians of Karijini National Park.
Mt. Toolbrunup Stirling Range National Park Western Australia
Aboriginal Name - Koi Kyenunu-ruff meaning "mist rolling around the mountains".
Mt. Toolbrunup is 1052m highand 2km to summitsoallow 3 to 4 hours return.
An hours Drive from Albany, the Stirling Range National Park is home to ancient mountains, an abundance of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world and two resident Parks & Wildlife Rangers.
Mt Toolbrunup is the Second Highest peak in the Stirling Range national Park and as such the trail receives far less traffic than the famed Bluff Knoll (1095m). The literal centrepiece of the range stands out as you drive from the south along Chesterpass Road and the peaceful Moingup Springs campsite is nestled in at the foot of the mountain. Moingup Springs acts as a good base for exploring the rest of the range or a perfect place to camp if your planning a pre-dawn start on the hike.
You'll find a short gentle slope at the start of the trail before you find yourself crossing slate fields and venturing into tight trail through thick scrub at a steeper incline which lead you into openings where if your lucky you might see a Wedge Tailed Eagle or two soaring around the cliff faces. Toolbrunup trail ascends almost 900m over the 2km trail meaning the average of the gradient of the trail is almost 40-45% so prepare for some good thigh burn if you haven't hiked in a while. The trail leads you over large rock fields where the best plan of attack is to set your sights on a trail marker and choose your own adventure. Toward the peak you'll be climbing through double head high crevices and negotiating narrow trail along cliff faces before ascending through more crevices and cracks to reach the summit and views of the Stirling Ranges to both the east and west. If you're up early enough you'll see the sun rise over Bluff Knoll to the east and witness the sun chase the fog through the feet of the hills to the west.
For the more adventurous, plenty of climbing and bouldering can be found among the cliffs of Toolbrunup.