Dales Gorge

Stepping out of our tent this morning, which is home for three nights at the Karijini Eco Retreat, we encountered the Pilbara at its best. Blue skies, red soil, spinifex, termite mounds and snappy gums with their beautiful white trunks. This place is amazing.

After breakfast we headed on a sealed road to the eastern side of Karijini National Park to the Visitor Centre, which is constructed in the shape of a goanna. We spoke to some volunteers about appropriate walks and road conditions.

From the Visitor Centre its a short drive to the Dales Gorge car park. Just a short distance away was the first lookout, over Circular Pool. The iron ore-rich walls of the gorge were bathed in sunlight, but the pool was deep in shadow and it was difficult to see too much of it in any detail.

Rod and Cornie climbed down into the gorge to follow a trail along the creek, but Marg and I opted to follow the Dales Gorge Rim Walk with spectacular views down into the gorge from the trail itself and also from several lookouts along the journey. The trees and flowering plants along the trail were really beautiful, especially the stark white trunks of the snappy gums. I was a little disappointed with my camera, as it didn’t seem to pick up the really reddish colours in the gorge walls. That was a shame, as the contrast between the red-brown rocks and the blue sky was quite stunning. Later on, we returned by the same trail and I switched to my phone’s camera, which did a much better job capturing the true colours. You can see the return journey photos later in this blog.

Our walk brought us to a series of steps that took us down to Fortescue Falls and the pool at the base of them. Just as we arrived from the rim trail, Rod and Cornie arrived at the pool from the trail along the creek. Together we walked on to the the next stop, Fern Pool. This was a really picturesque place to sit and enjoy our lunch. It seems most trail walkers had the same idea, as it was pretty crowded. Some people were swimming. Others were dipping their feet into the water for the fish to nibble on.

The steps leading from Fortescue Falls back up to the gorge rim trail seemed to go on forever and I was huffing and puffing a fair bit when I reached the top. Thankfully someone had the forethought to place a seat there, so after a few minutes’ rest I was ready for the trail walk back along the rim to the car. This time Cornie and Rod were with us. The views into the gorge were quite stunning and this time I tried to capture the colours correctly with my phone. Here’s the pics.

On the drive back to our camp, we took a short detour to Mt Bruce, the second highest peak in Western Australia. We walked to the lookout for views over the Rio Tinto Marandoo iron ore mine. We arrived at the best time, as an iron ore train came into sight on its way back to the mine from the port at Dampier. The trailers, now presumably empty, seemed to go on and on forever. We returned to the Eco Retreat mid-afternoon. Tomorrow we plan to explore the western side of the national park.

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