Our next destination was Karijini National Park in the Pilbara. It is a long way from the coast and so we had to drive via Port Hedland for an overnight stop. To be honest, the road from Broome to Port Hedland is the most boring we have yet had to tackle. It is very long and very straight and there is nothing to see even though it runs parallel to 80 Mile Beach. Access to the beach is denied except through the caravan park.
Setting off for Karijini we were again to find the road long and mostly straight but this time we had dozens of huge road trains travelling to Port Hedland with their loads of iron ore. This is the Pilbara and the area is rich with culture and a huge array of natural rock formations, deep red in colour. The soil is a fine red sand which gets into everything and is hard to remove! There are gorges, rock pools and canyons in the two National Parks of the area and we were heading for Karijini which has beautiful scenery and much of it is accessible by car. We booked into an “Eco Tent” which was said to be “luxury” but having been on several African safaris, this was not at all up to the standard they were trying to attain. This being an Eco Resort comfort was minimal in the so called “glamping” tents. We used torch light at night as electricity was solar and we were conscious of waste. The tents were cooled by natural breezes – if there were any – with the result that the afternoons were very, very hot and early mornings freezing cold! We did have a small ensuite bathroom though which was roofless and it was fabulous to shower late at night and look up at the billions of stars. Being in such a remote location, the stars were simply amazing with no light to detract.
We were told of several walks which culminated in rock pools for a refreshing swim. Unfortunately it has been a very dry season and several waterfalls have dried up and the pools in which you are able to swim are hard to get to unless you are very fit.It was also very hot but the worst problem was the bush flies. There were millions of them and they were relentless.
On arrival at the Eco Resort, we noticed people walking around with fly nets covering their heads. It was comical really as they resembled aliens from another planet – dark nets covering faces and over hats of all shapes giving their heads an oddly conical or flat shape.
Unfortunately everywhere had sold out of the nets so we were not able to “join the party” and instead had to either stay in our flyproof tent or explore in the airconditioned car!
Weano Gorge is probably the best introduction to Karijini as there are easy walks around the top of the gorge as the more adventurous can venture down the rocks into the canyon. The lookout we went to gave unsurpassed views out over the Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre Gorges. The sheer enormity and grandeur is awesome and must be really spectacular when the waterfalls are running.
The path in is sandy – the deep red of the Pilbara – and fortunately there was a breeze so the flies were not so aggressive!
The colours of this part of the Pilbara are amazing at any time of day. This I remember from the road trip so long ago – but then this was not a National Park and we ventured in on our way to Wittenoom township which is now closed because of asbestos.
The roads are red dirt and the silver and green of the leaves plus the groundcover colours give a special sense to this place which is sacred to the indigenous people.
We drove to Tom Price which is a mining town and a really impressive little community.
With huge mining machines on display!
Sadly the flies and the heat drove us out of the beautiful Karijini Park but the drive was spectacular after a beautiful dawn rising viewed from our tent.
Next stop – Exmouth on the Coral Coast – maybe the flies will be gone by then?