Karijini National Park

Dales Gorge is a great place for wild camping. Bush toilets are available but no other facilities. We were tired after a long day travelling so we went to bed early. Because of the heat we always sleep with the van doors open and the tailgate up to get a bit of a through breeze so our heads are virtually sticking out of the back of the van. We were just dropping off when we heard a noise at the back of us. Looking up we saw a dingo not 3 feet from the back of the van. He looked as surprised to see us as we were to see him. He was obviously just looking to see what he could scavenge. He hung around for a few seconds before disappearing into the bush.

After a good breakfast in the morning we set off for a walk in Dales Gorge. All the walks in the national park are well marked and graded from 1 to 6. For a grade 6 you need specialist equipment so we try to stick to a 3 or 4. What we have found is that if it says it is a four hour walk then it’s probably more like two. We think the reason is that the emergency services are so far away that they try to put people off from over stretching themselves and getting into trouble. For gorge walking you need to travel light as sometimes you have to wade through water or scramble over rocks. Also there are swimming holes on the way which are handy for cooling off. We started by walking down a steep path and steps to Fortescue Falls at the bottom of the gorge. This is a beautiful spot for swimming – a natural pool fed by a waterfall. It was so good we stayed for an hour or so swimming and sunbathing. We then made our way down through the gorge criss-crossing the water several times usually by stepping stones. It was quite shaded down there with the trees and the steep sides of the gorge. There was another pool a bit further along. Another chance for a dip. We carried on the walk along the gorge to the other end to Circular Pool. These pools are apparently sacred to the Aboriginies and you are asked to respect this by not making too much noise or jumping in. The last half mile or so of the walk was a grade 5 which is a cross between walking and rock climbing. The path that led out of the gorge was very steep and we had left it a little late. It was the hottest part of a very hot day and as soon as we left the shade of the gorge the temperature shot up. Boy were we glad to see our campervan with air con an hour or so later.

We had our normal hour or so rest and lunch before driving 10 miles to the visitor centre in the park. This is well worth a visit and one thing it explains is about the say that the Aboriginal people have in the way that the park is run. After all this land legally belongs to them. There are also some good artifacts and displays (the air conditioning helps as well at this time of the day!)

Virtually all the roads in the park are unsealed so it was a bumpy 20 mile drive across to Joffre Gorge where we set up camp for the night.

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