Tag Archives: swimming

Karajini Part II

Friday 27th  to Sunday 29th September 2013

A long drive today – more than 400 miles. A lot of it was along dirt roads and, as we got near Tom Price, along roads being used by heavy mine construction equipment.

At Tom Price we refuelled, bought food and wine and then headed for Karijini Eco Camp. There we got the same site as we had last time which felt like coming home -almost!

HERE is our route from Exmouth to Karijini. View with Google Earth. Also tomorrows route and pictures.

Part of our route from beyond Exmouth to the Eco-camp at Karijini

Saturday 28th

Today we decided to revisit Knox Gorge but to go downstream when we got there, instead of upstream as we had done last time.

But first we went to the lookout over Joffre Gorge.

Joffre Gorge
The Joffre Gorge Amphitheatre from the lookout. We swam there on our previous visit.

And if we look the other way – – –

Joffre Gorge
Looking downstream – the view from the Joffre Gorge lookout

HERE is the route and pictures of today’s trip. Also the route we took yesterday.

Then we continued our drive to Knox Gorge and descended the steep slope to the stream.

Knox Gorge
Chris descending the scree into Knox Gorge. We headed left – downstream when we got to the bottom.

It was fairly easy walking and we were able to wave to people on the lookout far above us.

Knox Gorge
In Knox Gorge. Note the people in the lookout (top left)

After a bit of easy scrambling we got to the end of the tourist route and contemplated the serious stuff.

Knox Gorge
The debouchment of Knox Gorge into Red Gorge. This carries part of the Fortescue River on its way to Wittenoom, Millstream-Chichester and the sea.

The man in the photo above runs trips into the difficult parts of the gorge. He supplies ropes, harnesses and hardware for descending the steep places. You have to supply a certain level of fitness and several hundred dollars.

While we were there he tried to persuade a couple of young guys to book him for the next day. He glanced at us and passed by with a smile.

Knox Gorge
Just before you get to the end of the easy bit you pass this lovely pool which is great for cooling off. We met a couple of Italian guys who were having a break from working at Karratha.

On our way back up the gorge we took time to look at the rocks. In many places they look like a construction of Roman tiles.

Knox Gorge
The Brockman Iron Formation looking like stacked Roman tiles.

We were able to see the lookout from a different direction.

Knox Gorge
The lookout from inside Knox Gorge

When we got to the exit of the gorge we decided to continue upstream to the swimming hole we discovered last time we were here.

Knox Gorge
Knox Gorge swimming hole
Knox Gorge
Chris at the swimming hole. I presume a waterfall comes down here in the wet.

It is a lovely spot and we stayed here for a couple of hours. Two couples arrived, swam, moved on and came back. The confirmed that this is the best bit!

Knox Gorge
View from the swimming hole, Knox Gorge.

Eventually we moved back to camp, caught up with our emails and bank account at reception, then had a nice supper at the reception.

To end what had been a very good day, a playful breeze caught a contact lens as I took it out and it disappeared. If you find it (Site 90 at the Eco camp) let me know! Thankfully I had my spare so all was not lost!

Sunday 29th

By Western Australian standards today’s trip was a short jaunt – only 112 miles! It was to Hamersley Gorge which is in the north west corner of Karijini National Park, but you have to go out of the park to get there.

HERE is today’s route and photos. Open in Google Earth.

Hamersley Gorge is impressive. there is a new approach road, parking, toilets and a lookout. Geologically it is impressive with some rather impressive folding and a very good demonstration of competent and incompetent beds. But more of this excitement anon!

Hamersley Gorge
Hamersley Gorge from the lookout. For scale note the people in the bottom of the gorge.

The upper walls of the gorge are folded and the thin beds show this very well. Note the whitish rock near the top of the gorge. These are thought to have had the iron removed from them by the action of humic acid produced when the local vegetation was steamy jungle! The iron was deposited in the colourful rocks below.

Hamersley Gorge
Folded beds in Hamersley Gorge.

But the lower beds are not folded – they are dipping but, if they are folded, it is on a much grander scale than can be seen here.

Hamersley Gorge
Folded upper beds resting on unfolded lower beds. Note the white rocks at the top and the colourful ones below.
Hamersley Gorge
Another view of the incompetent upper beds resting on the competent lower beds.


One speculates that when the area came under sideways pressure the weaker beds crumpled while the stronger ones did not – the difference between competent and incompetent beds. So the incompetent beds folded and therefore became shorter; the competent ones did not fold and retained their length. So there must be a slide between the two – a fault parallel to the strata.

The gorge gives several swimming places, separated into pools.

Hamersley Gorge
Hamersley Gorge
Hamersley Gorge
Another pool at Hamersley Gorge

We enjoyed our time at the gorge but soon we drove back to our camp. The next day we would be on our way to Marble Bar.

Hamersley Gorge
Chris swimming a Hamersley Gorge.


Saturday 21st to Thursday 26th September 2013

This was our fastest start – up at 6:30 and on the road at 8!

We first went to the Burrup Peninsula which is, nowadays, an awkward mix of ultra modern oil and gas facilities (pipelines from offshore fields come ashore here), and timeless aboriginal art. We, of course, were after the art but were rather disappointed. Perhaps we were at the wrong place, or did not venture far enough, but what we saw was not as good as what we saw near Newman. I don’t have any decent photos so will have to leave you with a gas flare!

Gas Flare
Gas flare seen fro the Aboriginal art area on the Burrup Peninsula

HERE is a link to our route and photos taken between Dampier and Exmouth.

Part of our route from Dampier to Exmouth

The route was long and tedious – lots and lots of not very much.

Part of our route from Dampier to the Exmouth area

It did become more interesting as we drove up North West Cape along Exmouth Gulf. There are some expensive looking properties with boat anchorages.


Ningaloo Saturday
Detail of our route in the Exmouth Peninsula

When we got to Exmouth we stopped at the Visitor Centre and booked a bungalow at the Lighthouse Caravan Park seventeen km beyond the town – we fancied a bit of luxury and wanted to be assured of our bed before driving onwards.

We were told that accommodation in the Cape Range National Park, if you have not booked in advance, is assigned on a first come, first served basis at the camp entrance, when the ranger comes on duty at 9 in the morning.

Then into town to get some supplies. At the Caravan Park we signed in and settled into our nice bungalow.

Sunday 22nd September

We got to the Ranger station at 8:30 and joined the queue. 45 minutes later we got to the front of the queue and found that the only camp sites available were on the other side of Yardie Creek. This is a long way south and a very long way from Exmouth and possibilities of resupply. So we decided not to go there.

We decided that we would stay at the Yardie Homestead Caravan Park. This is nowhere near Yardie Creek! In fact it is north of the park, on the road to Exmouth. Because I was feeling a bit under the weather and my back was complaining about too much activity, we decided not to camp but to indulge ourselves with a chalet. And we decided to stay for five nights.

After lunch we headed north, had a swim and went up to the lighthouse which gives its name to last nights accommodation. Then back home for a barbecue.

And the temporary filling I got in Port Hedland proved all too temporary! It came out – I will get it replaced when I get back to the UK.

HERE is a link to today’s route and pictures. This includes tomorrows activities.

Monday 23rd September

This was rather a lazy day. Taking advantage of the availability of a pay phone and telephone card at the camp site, we arranged where we would stay on our way back to Perth. Shark Bay was on our list so we arranged four nights at a place near there, also a place on the way – it was  450 miles to Shark Bay!

Then we hired snorkel, masks and flippers from the camp site and headed off to the Lakeside snorkelling area in the National Park.

Lakeside Snorkel Area
The Lakeside Snorkel Area. the white at the skyline is the edge of the reef. The back reef runs from the waters edge to the reef. The fore reef is the slope beyond the reef down to the deep sea floor. It is covered in broken coral.

But it was very disappointing. There was a strong current from the south west and this stirred up a lot of sand, making the water very murky and visibility poor. Also the current meant that you had to paddle like fury to stay in one place.

We stayed in long enough to see that there was a lot of coral and lots of fishes but we were soon back on shore.

Lakeside Snorkel Area
Chris suffering from being unable to snorkel at Lakeside Snorkel Area

We tried again after lunch but conditions were even worse. So we packed up and headed south to look at Turquoise Beach and Mandu Mandu Gorge. We found lots of coral fossils in the gorge – the formation includes Middle Miocene coral reefs, mirroring the modern ones offshore.

HERE is a link to today’s route and pictures. This includes yesterdays activities.

Tuesday 24th September

Tuesday morning was a very lazy time, hanging about the chalet, watching the emus walking past. After lunch we drove south of Exmouth and headed for the hills.

There are a couple of tracks which lead into the Cape range. One goes along a valley – Shothole Canyon Road – and the other goes along a ridge – Charles Knife Road. Both roads were made when the area was being explored for oil deposits.

Shotover Gorge
Our truck parked at the end of the Shothole Canyon Road

Shothole Canyon gets its name from the shallow holes drilled for explosives to aid the seismic exploration of the area. Strangely enough someone found another reason to visit the canyon. See HERE.

Charles Knife Road goes up to the top of the Cape Range to an old wellhead where an oil exploration well was drilled. Parts of the road go along knife edged ridges but that is not the reason for the name. Charles Knife worked for the oil company and laid out the line of the road.

Charles Knife Road
View toward the Indian Ocean from the Charles Knife Road

After our tour of the inland bits of the Cape Range we returned to Exmouth and bought our supper from a local fish merchant – there is a lot of fishing in the area.

HERE is a link to today’s route and pictures. This includes tomorrows short excursion.

Wednesday 25th September

This was a remarkably lazy day! Most of it was spent round the Caravan Park. Before lunch we went to a nearby beach to see if we could see turtles – we couldn’t so we sunbathed.

Chris on the beach
Chris on the beach

Late afternoon we went back to this mornings beach and watched the local windsurfers. Then walked south to something odd we could see in the distance.

Turtles mating on the beach
Turtles mating on the beach. Romance plays an unimportant part in the process.

It turned out to be turtles mating – but we originally thought that the big one was dead! The owner of the caravan site told us what was really going on.  The female has a gash on the back of her neck which you can see in the photo HERE.

HERE is a link to today’s route and pictures. Includes yesterdays route and photos.

Thursday 26th September

After breakfast we decided that we were not beach people and that we would not go to Shark Bay. We much preferred the inland parts of Western Australia. You might conjecture this by the number of photos I took on the coast compared to inland. So we phoned and cancelled our Shark Bay booking.

For our last day on the coast we decided to give snorkelling one last chance and hired what we needed and headed to South Mandu Beach.

And found that the sea was too rough to snorkel! So carried on south to look at Yardie Creek. It does not reach the sea but the pool extends up the gorge. We resisted taking the boat trip up the gorge.

Yardie Creek
Looking inland up Yardie Creek

After lunch (at the Caravan Park) we tried our snorkels at Oyster Stacks but again the sea was too rough, but we had better luck at Turquoise Beach. The water was turbid but at least we got the snorkels wet.

At Turquoise Beach
Corulla eating grass seeds at Turquoise Beach
At Turquoise Beach
Golden sand, turquoise sea, blue sky – another boring Western Australia beach!

HERE is a link to today’s route and pictures.

Mount Elizabeth

7th and 8th September 2013

After a very pleasant stay at El Questro we set off for Mount Elizabeth Station which is 326 km along the Gibb River Road. This was a fairly easy drive with occasional bits of tarred road and lots of road works. Even crossing the Pentecost River was easy – there was very little water and we could not get our tyres wet!

HERE is today’s route with photos. Open with Google Earth.

Most of the way was over Proterozoic sandstones which give a rugged topography.

Mount Elizabeth annotated
Geological Map of the Mount Elizabeth Area with our routes shown.

These geological maps, available for the whole of Australia, can be downloaded from HERE.

My expectations for Mount Elizabeth were rather low – we hadn’t stayed at any working farms and I worried that we would be regarded as nuisances. But when we got to the farm, twenty miles from the Gibb River Road, we found that the farm had recently finished its busy period – rounding up its cattle and sending many of them to market. So there was not much happening and we were the most exciting thing to happen that day! We were the only people at the camp site. However there were lots of little Wallabies and one, in particular, was extremely curious.

Mount Elizabeth Station
Wallaby at mount Elizabeth Station camp site
Mount Elizabeth Station
The wallaby had a joey
Mount Elizabeth Station
Our camp site at Mount Elizabeth

We set up and, following the directions of the lady who signed us in, set off for the Hann River. This was a journey of twenty five miles there and back, but it was worth it as the stretch of the Hann River was lovely. We got there in the latter part of the afternoon and the low sunlight did wonderful things to the colours. And it was a very good place to swim!

Mount Elizabeth Station
Chris, the Hann River and the evening light

The next day we drove to the other highlight of Mount Elizabeth – the Barnett River.

HERE is today’s route with photos. Open with Google Earth.

This involved a drive along a very rough track followed by a walk through the bush – about 7 miles in total. We may have got sweaty but the payoff made it well worth while. We found a wonderful swimming hole and an aboriginal art gallery!

On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
The Barnett River at Mount Elizabeth Station. In the wet this would be a waterfall. Note the ladder for the convenience of the hordes of visitors.
On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
The swimming hole at the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth
On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
Looking downriver at the swimming hole, Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth

If you walk a couple of hundred yards downstream from the swimming hole, you will find on the cliffs on the eastern side of the gorge some rather unusual aborigine paintings.

On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
Aboriginal art in the Wunnumurra Gorge, Barnett river, Mount Elizabeth. This photo is used as an illustration for “Indigenous Australian Art” on Wikipedia!
On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
Chris at the Aboriginal art site, Wunnumurra Gorge

We spent several hours at the swimming hole then set off back to the camp site.  A few more people had turned up, including a man who thought that we were insufficiently qualified to be alone in the bush. We had no idea of the dangers we were facing – did we take the track to the Barnett river without deflating our tyres?; did we know what to do if we were caught in a bush fire? etcetera etcetera. We refused to be impressed with his superior knowledge so he gave us up in disgust. Strangely enough he was travelling alone.

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.