Karijini – Part 1

 Friday 16th August 2013

John and Julie were to go back to Perth this morning but first we had to repack the trucks so that we had all that we needed fo the next couple of months. and also know how to use it! So first of all some intensive tent pitching practice – up to now the tent had stayed in its bag, but we would need it if we camped in National Parks. Then there was the task of fitting everything we thought we needed into our truck. We thought a second spare wheel was a very good idea but it took up a great deal of space! But eventually everything was sorted out and we went our separate ways. It was about 1400 km for J & J to get to Perth and they did it with two days driving. Chris and I had a mere 80 km to drive. We called in at the park Visitor Centre and enquired about the Karijini Eco Retreat and confirmed that although it was best known for its luxury camping it did have a normal camp site. So of we drove the  35 km and booked in at what was a very nice place to stay.

Karajini geol map
Geological Map of Karijini, with our route on Friday 16th August 2013. Clicking on the map above takes you to its page on Flickr. Click on the three dots on the bottom right and select View all sizes. Select the Original and you will get a very large copy of the map on which you can examine our route and the geology of the park.

We set up our tent in our designated site and set off for Weano Gorge.

Camp Site
Our camp at Karijini Eco Resort

Weano Gorge, at least in the part we visited, is not very deep but it was a challenge for us for we did not realise that it was normal to wade to get along the gorge! So we found our visit a bit restricted, but still spectacular.

Weano Gorge
We did not realise that you were expected to wade through the water! But we could still see the red rocks, blue sky and green gum trees.

But even if one did not go wading to see nice scenery. Weano Gorge was particularly good for reflections of the red cliffs in the water.

Weano Gorge
Red cliffs reflected in the blue water.

And some of the cliffs were very red!

Weano Gorge
Red cliffs in Weano Gorge.

As the sun went lower the colours grew more intense.

Weano Gorge
The reflections of the cliffs became more intense as the sun got lower.

And the white gum trees stood out against the red of the cliffs.

Oxer Lookout
White gum tree against a red cliff.

Then it was back to the camp site to cook our supper. And discovered that we could do with some lighting which was compatible with cooking. John had gone off with his head torch and we only had hand held torches. We each could have done with a third hand! Also as it gets dark before 7 PM and lighting is difficult, there is a tendency to go to bed quite early and to get up with the dawn. Oftimes we would be asleep by 9 and up just after 5. Very different from life at home!

Saturday 17th August 2013

Today we did two gorges, Hancock in the morning and Joffre in the late afternoon. Hancock is close to Weano which we did yesterday and Joffre is within walking distance of our camp. The map below shows where we went and also that all the rocks we saw were Brockman Iron formation

Karajini geol map2
Our route and places visited on Saturday 17th August 2013

Before descending into Hancock gorge we went to the Oxer lookout. This is near the place where four gorges meet. Weano, Hancock and Joffre combine to form Red Gorge and a little downstream, Knox Gorge joins.

Oxer Lookout
The view from Oxer Lookout. We are perched above Hancock Gorge with Kermit’s Pool somewhere below us and behind us on the right. In front is the southern wall of Red Gorge with Joffre Gorge coming in on the right (where the light green water is). Weano Gorge enters opposite. Knox Gorge debouches into Red Gorge one kilometre further on, from the south. This photo has had to be digitally manipulated to lighten the shadows and darken the highlights – this needs to be done for many of the photos of Karijini Gorges.

After the lookout we started down into Hancock Gorge. At first this is just a steep path past red cliffs.

Hancock Gorge
The path into Hancock Gorge.

But then you come to a steel ladder which takes you down a small cliff and you are on the bottom of the gorge.

Hancock Gorge
Chris half way down the ladder into Hancock Gorge.

There is water in the bottom of Hancock Gorge. The stream is barely flowing but the streams course is so rugged that there are pools all along the gorge.

Hancock Gorge
Pool in Hancock Gorge. The blue marker on the right indicates that this is a grade 4 or 5 trail.

But as you go downstream the trail becomes a little more tricky and your scrambling skills are tested.

Hancock Gorge
Chris testing her scrambling skills.

The gorge becomes more constricted and the way more difficult.

Hancock Gorge
The Hancock Gorge trail. Here its straightness indicates that the stream is controlled by jointing.

And then you come to Kermit’s Pool which is where the tired traveller can refresh with a bracing dip.

Hancock Gorge
Kermit’s Pool. The water is very cold! The sun seldom shines down here.

And just beyond the pool you come to signs telling you to go no further. The category of the trail changes from 4 or 5 to 6 and 7 and climbing aids and abseiling skills are required beyond this point. If you pay $A245 each you can go on tours from the Eco Resort with a climber who has the requisite gear for getting into the deeper gorges. He also supplements his income by rescuing people who get stuck in the gorges.

Hancock Gorge
Chris at our furthest point in Hancock Gorge.

So we turned back and headed out, but not before one last backward glance.

Hancock Gorge
Our last look down Hancock Gorge

On our way out we paused to take some photos, Chris put down her camera and forgot to pick it up again! We never saw it again. I passed my spare camera on to her. After lunch back at the camp we rested and then set off to walk to Joffre Gorge. It was then that we discovered the loss of the camera, so our departure was rather delayed as we looked everywhere for it. it is an easy walk to Joffre Gorge, past the rather nice permanent tents of the Eco Camp. You can get into the higher levels of the Gorge easily but getting into the depths is rather more tricky.

Joffre Gorge
Joffre Gorge in the early evening sun.

The low light of the setting sun lit up the higher parts of the gorge and these could be seen reflected in the water in the gorge bottom.

Joffre Gorge
Evening light on the high gorge walls reflected in the pool in the depths of the gorge.

The moon was up and the sun was going down so we headed back to camp, determined to revisit Joffre Gorge on the morrow.

Joffre Gorge
Moon over the Joffre Gorge Lookout.

Sunday 18th August 2013

This was a relatively restful day. We walked to the Reception at the Eco Resort where we plugged in various electric devices for recharging. Only $A5 per item!!! And discovered that you could purchase internet time at $A5 per half hour. We thought that might be useful later. Then we continued to Joffre Gorge and walked as far as we could downstream, which was not very far. There we met a young lady who was enjoying her day off from working at the Eco Resort. She told us that what we could see before us was the “Olympic Swimming Pool”, it was 300m long and very cold. And you could only get out at the far end with an expert climber – rather like the far end of Hancock Gorge yesterday. apparently when it gets warmer the best way of getting along the pool is to “tube it” – get an inner tube from a tyre, sit in it and paddle along. Also have a smaller tube to carry the beers.

Joffre Gorge
The “Olympic Swimming Pool” in Joffre Gorge.

The map below shows how Joffre Gorge leads down to Red Gorge and where we were yesterday. Here we were about 4 km from our exploits of yesterday.

Karajini geol map3
Our route to Joffre Gorge on Sunday 18th August 2013

So turning round we headed upstream. the sun behind us made the rocks glow.

Joffre Gorge
In Joffre Gorge.

We came to a narrow section where we had to splash through the stream but saw that it widened out beyond.

Joffre Gorge
The entrance to the amphitheatre of the Joffre Falls

The wide area was almost circular with vertical walls and with a large pool in the bottom. This was where the Joffre Falls entered Joffre Gorge.

Joffre Gorge
The Joffre Falls. I suspect they are magnificent in the Wet. They are pretty good in the Dry.

The combination of warm sunshine and fairly clean water led to the inevitable – Chris went for a swim!

Joffre Gorge
Chris resting after a swim at Joffre Falls.

After a respectable time at the pool we headed back to reception, picked up our charged items and made a booking for dinner in the resort restaurant. We rested then went back to reception to catch up with emails and other necessities of modern life – mainly moving money to keep up with our spending! Our meal was pretty good – sophistication in the bush.

Monday 19th August 2013

The map below shows what we did today. We drove to Joffre Falls Lookout and then to Knox Gorge. The Lookout is not very far from the camp but it is on the other side of the gorge so a drive of about 5 miles is needed to get there. A further 2.5 miles takes you to the Knox Gorge Lookout.

Karajini geol map4
Route taken to Knox Gorge on Monday 19th August 2013

The Lookout gives a different view of the falls and the amphitheatre.

Joffre Lookout
Joffre Falls from the Lookout

It is a steep walk into Knox Gorge and the signs at the bottom indicate that you should walk downstream. But upstream looked pretty good and that is the way we went.

Knox Gorge
Looking upstream at the base of the descent into Knox Gorge.

The rocks are Brockman Iron Formation and look as if they had been cast from molten iron! But of course they are sediments laid down 2.5 billion years ago.

Knox Gorge
Brockman Iron Formation, Knox Gorge.

A few hundred yards upstream we came to a rather nice swimming hole which we much enjoyed.

Knox Gorge
Swimming Hole in Knox Gorge.

After an hour or two we went back to camp and got ready to leave Karijini. As you can probably tell we enjoyed our time in the Park and we came back almost 6 weeks later.