Thursday, August 18, 2016

Karijini National Park - Just the best gorges we have seen on our travels.

We were looking at the weather forecast for various places on our way home, our original plan was to travel along the Talawana Track to Alice Springs, then back across the Simpson Desert.   We had plenty of time to do it, around three weeks before we had to be home.   The weather around Alice was bad, around 2 Deg C, and wet and raining, and it all looked way to cold that far south.    We decided to head north instead, and whilst we sat in the car park of the shops in Exmouth, got all our permits to head up the Canning Stock Route instead.   This gave us another oppurtunity, to go to Karijini National Park.  It has been on our "must do" list for a long time, but we have never had the opportunity to go there,   On our last big trip we had to head down the coast to Denham to meet the family for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, so we missed out.  We were definitely going to visit it this time.

I had seen the photos of the access into the various gorges, and knew it was going to be difficult.  I was worried Trish would find it a bit too hard, especially the heights and having to climb down some steep cliffs and do all sorts of crazy things to be able to get to to bottom.  

Nearly all the walked are rated as " Grade 5 - Extreme" and require a high level of fitness.

 The climb down into the gorge as pretty difficult. 

The first real challenge was to persuade Trish to do the "Spider Walk"  this is where you have to have one foot on either side of the rock wall whilst you clamber down the gorge.  Trish didn't like that idea, but she had a go, and did great, it is about 3m down to the bottom of the gorge in places,  and you have to walk down and back up this narrow gap.

This was quite an obstacle to the main pool, and knowing that it takes quite a while to get past this and it is only one way traffic, we knew we had time for a  photo shoot.    We got there pretty early, and whilst there were a few people before us, there was no other people coming down the track behind us for as far as we could see.   Once we were sure there others had headed back up, we had plenty of time for a photo shoot and got some great photos.   


 The light in this section of the gorge was just incredible.

 We headed up to the next gorge, and into the "Hand Rail pool, where you walk along a narrow crack, then have to hold onto a pipe bolted onto the side of the rock wall.   We were following a bunch of older people, who were struggling on the track but made it to the top of the pool.  They decided not to go down the handrail, as I doubt they would have made it back up. 

 We made it without incident, making sure we had "three points of contact" at all times whilst clibing down the pipe.   Since there we only a few people in the gorge, we decided to do a quick photo shoot down in the pool.  We waited until the group of people who were already there to leave, knowing that if anyone was going to come down the entrance, they would have to wait until they had made it back up to the main track.  This would give us about 5 minutes to get some photos.   I waded into the freezing cold water and we got one photo before I heard more people coming and Trish had to get dressed.   I took a couple of photos of the people on the pipe. 

I  had just gotten back to the side and turned to see a woman fall down from the top of the waterfall into the pool.   The people on the side of the pool just looked at her as she went under the water.    I hand the camera to Trish and headed out into the water to see if she was OK.  No one else was moving.   She came back up, the water was only about shoulder deep but did not look good, so I headed into the water and helped her out to the side.  I got her back pack off, as it was weighing here down then helped her out the water,   It was strange, no one else moved to help us.    It turns out that one of them was her husband, and he had done nothing.    

She had hurt her back, but did not want any help, she insisted on walking out the gorge,  whilst we had wanted to do some more photos in that gorge, we could not just leave her there.   We helped he out of the gorge, I carried her back pack back up then went down to help her climb up the pipe, then back up the side of the gorge.  She was in a lot of pain, but made it up to the top.   Her husband stopped to take photos whilst we were helping his wife to climb out the gorge - pretty weird.

After that excitement we decided to head off to another gorge. 

We also got some time to do some more great photos in this gorge as well.

There were so many great gorges, but most had a lot of people in them.

There were a few more steep climbs around the pools in the various gorges. 

There are so many great gorges, and whilst they are a lot more difficult to get into than those on the Gibb River Road, they are so much better.    We will have to add this to the list to come back to when it is warmer.  The water in all the gorges was pretty cold, so we will have to come back in summer. 

All the gorges have signs saying "Do Not Enter if Chance of Rain"  I can see why you,  the water will flow down these narrow gaps at a tremendous rate and rise up pretty high very quickly.  There has been a few people killed in these gorges due to flash flooding.

 We were there in the middle of the day, and there were quite a few people  so so no real opportunity for any more photos, and it was a bit overcast, making the lighting a bit more difficult.    Itf would have been great to do a photo shoot down here in this gorge in particular, but it was just not possible.

We spent two nights at the "Eco Resort", and as we were leaving, it was the start of the WA school holiday, and the place quickly filled up with families and caravans.   We were planning on staying in other camp ground for a night, but we decided that we will go home via the Canning Stock Route, and decided to head out on the road towards Newman.

We spent the night at a rest stop on the side of the road about 100km north of Newman, it was nice a quiet, with only a few other campers.   It was raining lightly, but we had internet connection so we could check the weather forecast for the Canning, as it would be pretty difficult if it was raining.   We had only allow 10 days for us to travel over 1400km.   We knew that we had to be at ParnGurr on Saturday morning to get fuel, as the it was only open from 9:00am to 12:00, after that we would have to wait until Monday.    We were not sure now much fuel it would take to do the 1400km, so decided that we would fill up all our fuel tanks and the 90lt of Jerry cans at Newman, and then top up the main tank at ParmGurr, so we could start the 1100km of the Canning with a full fuel load.   

Broome to Port Hedland, then on to Exmouth to swim with the Whale Sharks.

We left Broome  in the morning, heading down the coast to Port Hedland to get the two missing tyres.  We had to stop off at Eighty Mile Beach so Trish could pick up some shells.

The beach is just massive, and with a 7m tide, it was so wide.    Just great for some more aerial photos from our little Phantom. 

It is 80 miles long, and has only one entrance, and a single caravan park.  We would love to stay overnight on the beach but that is not allowed, and they have Rangers that enforce it and hand out fines.   The caravan park is ridiculously expensive, - $48 per night, and everyone is packed in like sardines.  It is such a pity, the caravan park owners obviously love the stranglehold they have on this fantastic stretch of coastline.  

We spent the night in a gravel pit on the "Shay Gap" road,  and decided to head off down the road to see the old mining town.   It said on the map that they had "rehabilitated" the town, and there was hardly a trace of of it left, just a few roads and fences.

We headed on to Port Hedland, where we got the other two new tyres, and now with five new tyres we had to decided our route home.   We decided to head down to Exmouth to swim with the whale sharks,  If was always our plan, and since it started raining, we though it would be a good idea to drive whilst if was wet.  We spent the night up a side road to a valve station for the Dampier-Bunbury Gas pipeline, it was raining, but the road was quite solid, we drove about 500m found a slight ridge and stopped on top of it in the rain.   It is so easy to free camp in the truck, we didn't even get out.   The next morning we re-joined the highway, and headed into Karratha to vote, then decided to head out to see the LNG plants.   Whilst parked on the beach near the plant, I flew the drone around a bit.   

The next day we headed out to Exmouth, driving through the rain and out into the sunhshine.
We had managed to get two nights in one of the camp sites close to the jetty where the Whale Shark boat was going to pick us up from.

We arrived around midday, and I decided to fit the new air shift valve we had picked up in Broome.   It would be useful to have all the gears back again.    It only took and hour,  and now we had all the gears working againh.    When it was all finished we went for a walk along the beach as the sun was going down. 

The sand was very soft, making it pretty hard to walk on the beach, but good exercise. 

The sand was very coarse, and super sticky, and great for the inevitable photo shoot. :)  

The next day we got up early and headed out to the boat.  The whole day was great.  The whale sharks were fantastic, not as big as we though they would be, and they swim pretty fast.  You get dropped in front of the whale shark, and then have to swim fast just to stay with them.  


The boat was great, and nice and smooth.  It was nto that warm, around 23 Deg C, but it was OK if you were out of the wind and in the sun.

We both decided to wear wetsuits, as the water was pretty cool, only 22 Deg C.  

We had four great swims with two different sharks.    It was well worth doing, the are such majestic creatures.      Afterwards we headed back up the coast where they took us to the inner reef so we could go snorkelling.  We both decided not to wear the wets suits,  and whilst if was cool, it was still a lot of fun.  

We got back late in the afternoon, and I sent the drone up to get some photos of the coast line.  It is really beautiful up there.   We will need to come back one day when the water is a bit warmer, so we can have a look at the great reefs that are right off the beach. 

The next day we headed off,  we had decided to go to Karijini National Park, to have a look at the gorges there. 

On the way we stopped off at the the lookout at the end of the peninsular, this was the anchor of one of the many ships that have been wrecked along the coast.