… Fortescue Falls flowing down into the Fortescue Pool at the bottom of the Dales Gorge – viewed from the Fortescue Falls/Fern Pool trail…
A short walk downstream from the Fern Pool we can find the Fortescue Falls. What stands out immediately about the falls is their “stair step” like structure. The water cascades down layer upon layer of rock that resembles stair steps built into the side of the canyon. It is possible to swim up to the falls from the pool below and climb like you would climb the steps of a pyramid. Off to the side of the falls, the step-like rocks make natural lounge areas and tourists were sitting and chatting, laying in the sun and using the ledges as diving boards to jump into the water. There were a few tourists swimming in the Fortescue Pool and quite a few swam over to the far side and climbed the cliff to get photos of the falls.
From the “lounge area” to the side of the falls I had a good look around and it was really a beautiful place. It was truly an oasis in the desert and birds and insects came to drink from the water. In just a few short minutes I saw a fire red dragonfly come to drink and a few minutes later a bright blue dragonfly came to the same area. The water made a beautiful sound as it cascaded down the rock steps.
As in the Fern Pool and Handrail Pool, the water was cold – cold enough to shock the breath out of you when you first jump in. It took a few moments to get used to the chill of it and then it didn’t seem so bad. I fumbled my camera out and captured a shot of the falls from down in the pool.
I swam over to the far wall and climbed up on a cliff ledge to get a better view. I was about 4 meters (12′) above the water’s edge with the sun striking directly against the rock face behind me. The sun’s rays had heated the red rock and it felt wonderful to stand against the rock warming my body from the cold water. I took a look down and decided that I would take a jump off of the ledge. I set my camera to video, captured a view around the falls before I made my jump:
Looking up from the Dales Gorge towards the plateau above I was (again) entranced by the vivid colors. I’ve never seen such a natural combination of white, red, blue and green before. The gum tree bark appears chalk white against the azure sky and I couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful colors.
Continuing further downstream from the Fortescue Falls is the Circular Pool. We could see it from the recreation area and above the gorge. I watched as one girl dove into the cool water from one of the ledges as her friends cheered her on. Shooting the Circular Pool was VERY challenging due to the highlights created by the direct sunlight on the right side of the frame. It was at this moment that I wished my new camera had arrived before I departed for this trip; the new camera takes multiple photos of the same frame and then combines the best of the dark and light portions of the photo and merges them seamlessly for you automatically. But I am sure you can get the idea of how unique this pool is – you can hike down to it and then jump in and swim around looking up at the towering red rock, white trees and green leaves and the beautiful blue sky above.
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