Hamersley Gorge

The drive along the northern perimeter of Karijini National  Park from Wittenoom to Hamersley Gorge meanders through red dusted plains and crosses over occasional dry river beds.  The road runs parallel to the Karijini mountain range providing beautiful views of the red mountains speckled with white and green gum trees.  The road occasionally crossed into the mountains offering bridge views of the deep gorges that lead deeper into the park.

The turnoff road to Hamersley Gorge from the main dirt road is a bit rougher and most with trailers had to leave them behind at the main road.  We stopped often to take photos of the beautiful landscape and scenery.

After a short walk from the parking lot we arrived in the gorge at a little beach area that consisted of a red pebble sand bar inside of a beautiful pool.  The gorge walls reflected back in the water allowing the blue of the sky a narrow view between the cliffs.  Few other tourists meant that I could photograph without a tourist foreground and the lack of people contributed to the quiet and natural setting.

The pool was fed by a cascade of waterfalls that fell from the terrace above.  Thousands of years of water, rocks and sand as worn the rocks smooth and a few brave hikers attempted to ride them like a slide in a water park.

Above the waterfalls we found a beautiful blue-turquoise pool.  We took off our shoes and tried the water and it was icy cold. We took another swim, taking advantage that swimming here is allowed.  Higher up on the trail there were fewer tourists and as the afternoon wore on they thinned out until we were the only hikers left.  The gorge was ours to enjoy without noise and company and despite the chill of the water we swam and enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of this place.

At the far right of the photo above you can see a small waterfall that flows from the Spa Pools, a pair of Jacuzzi-sized pools that look like they were cut from the rock by huge drill bits.  I’ve never seen anything like them before and I was ecstatic that we could swim in them.  Negotiating the waterfalls took a little bit of work, we found that you could get into the pools by dropping down into them from above but getting out was a little harder.

The water flowed from waterfall to Spa Pool and then to the next waterfall before continuing on to the next pool.  Climbing from pool to pool, while a bit cold, was very exciting and we explored with childish enthusiasm.  The Spa Pools are beautiful to look at and we played in the waterfalls and swam in them until we were so cold that we could hardly stand it.  A camera, even one with a wide angle lens, can’t really capture the scale of these pools so I made a video shot from upstream to downstream at the turquoise pool.

Of all of the Gorges at Karijini National Park, I was most pleased with Hamersley Gorge.  It was the most difficult to drive to and was farthest from the main campgrounds meaning less hiker traffic.  The Spa Pools were one of the most amazing things I had ever seen.  Of course, being able to swim in them has biased my opinion :-)

 

 

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Karijini Kritters

Some of my best friends went on a canoe trip in the United States once and one of the party was a geologist.  The guys reported back to me that they were stopping at every rock outcrop and formation to allow the geologist a chance to marvel at this rock and that.  By the end of the trip the guys had learned quite a lot about geology.

In much the same way, traveling with Andrea, I noticed, observed and learned a lot more about animals than I would have if I were traveling alone.  She would get so excited whenever she saw an animal and the energy was contagious; I suppose the energy rubbed off on me and it probably will stick.  I seem to be noticing animals and not just noticing them, now I seem to observe them also.

We saw this curious raven (above) at the entrance to Hamersley Gorge.  He was making some raven calls and eventually another came over and they sparred for spots in the tree before this fellow claimed dominance and drove off his rival.  When I went under the tree to catch his photo he didn’t seem alarmed by my presence and let me photograph for a while.

Just above the circular pool near the walking path Andrea noticed this camouflaged lizard basking in the sun near the walking trail.  I probably wouldn’t have even noticed him and I wonder how many tourists walk past without ever seeing him.  His camouflage is perfect and laying in plain sight he is able  hide from birds and other predators.

Outside of the Dales Recreation Area, we saw a falcon hunting from a tree.  I parked the Wicked camper van and got out to take a photo.  As I stood shooting photos of this falcon, another falcon came and landed.  We were trying to determine of the two were a pair or rivals – I’m not an experienced bird watcher and I can’t really tell male from female falcons.  But the two seemed to be squabbling over the top branch; two buddies or a quarreling husband and wife?

We’re not sure but these two birds are probably Australian Hobby (Little Falcon) or possibly Brown Falcons.

We never did see the termites that created these huge mounds, maybe they were hibernating?  But geez, look at the size of these mounds?  The termites make them large enough so that during the hot summer months they stay quite cool inside.  The kid in me wanted to break one open to look inside but of course, that wouldn’t be a good idea.  I enjoyed their bright red color and massive size without disturbing them.  But they sure are big, aren’t they?


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Karijini Vistors Center

A visit to Karijini National Park wouldn’t be complete without a tour to the visitor’s center.  We made a stop at the center with the intention of paying our daily park fees & to purchase a post card.  I wasn’t expecting a museum and store.  The museum alone made the center a “must see” for any visitor coming here.  The building had a unique Eco-friendly design that was merged seamlessly into the surrounding desert landscape.

Walking from the parking lot I spotted a large bank of solar panels; this region of Australia has almost constant sunshine providing never-ending supply of free energy.  A bright yellow generator provides backup power for night use and for rare cloudy days.

Inside the visitor’s center we found toilets, a shopette and a wonderful museum.  We selected some post cards, paid our park fees, picked up some drinking water and then began a tour of the museum.  The museum had some wonderful Aboriginal exhibits explaining the history and culture of the local people, had exhibits of farming and hunting implements and had some art, clothing and ceremonial items.  I was fascinated by the boomerangs and I captured a photo of some of the genuine article.

The museum had a set of Emu eggs laid out in an Emu nest – they are quite large and look like large black and blue Easter candies.  I couldn’t remember if they were eggs or gourds but Andrea verified that they are indeed huge Emu eggs.

I learned more about Aboriginal culture in this museum that in all of my travels in Australia to date.  I found the explanation of the relationships in the tribal communities quite fascinating.  There seems to be caste-type rules for marrying; a person can only marry a person of the same “skin type.”  Rules for settling disputes center around tribal relationships and were more complex than I had originally realized.  Looking at the colored flow chart that explains who’s allowed to marry whom, see if you aren’t as confused as I was.

If you visit Karijini and you want to see some authentic Aboriginal art, tools and history, be sure to make a visit!


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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