10 Things To Do In Karijini, Western Australia: A Complete Travel Guide
Let me think… That’s a tough one… So many great things to do in Karijini National Park!
How do you choose between more than eleven spectacular gorges? Each with their own special story to tell. Each with a unique secret to share.
How do you decide whether to spend your time roaming above the “surface” – conquering mountains, marvelling at magnificent mauve mulla-mulla blooms, teetering on the edge of an abyss from one of the many breath-taking lookout points…
Or exploring the subterranean depths – scrambling past impossibly perched trees, spider walking between walls of flaming red rock, plunging into ancient pools of sapphire and emerald that reflect the oases of plants drawing life from their depths and the cloudless sky far above?
We can help you solve this dilemma! Read on for our favourites and some ‘hands-on” advice.
- Fern Pool in Dales Gorge
- Hamersley Gorge
- Handrail Pool in Weano Gorge
- Fortescue Falls and Circular Pool in Dales Gorge
- Joffre Gorge
- Kermit’s Pool in Hancock Gorge
- Knox Gorge
- Oxer’s Lookout
- Kalamina Gorge
- Mount Bruce
- How to get there
- Where to stay in Karijini
- What to bring
- A note to hikers…
Our Top Ten Sights To See In Karijini (in no particular order)
Fern Pool in Dales Gorge
A “Garden of Eden” hidden within one of the prettiest gorges in Karijini National Park.
Some easy bushwalking with the option of a little scrambling for the more adventurous, this gorge has something for everyone. Hiking through the striking red rock that is the hallmark of the Pilbara region is just the beginning…
Plan a day and pack a picnic! Bring something to float on, and don’t forget a camera.
Drift on the cool surface, turquoise depths below, lush green ferns giving rise to blazing rock walls at the water’s edge, while gazing up at the infinite azure of the clear sky above. Finish with a freshwater shower under the gentle falls cascading into one side of the pool.
One of the most picturesque and easily accessible of the pools within Karijini, Fern Pool in Dales Gorges is not to be missed.
The swirl of deep reds, blazing oranges and rusty yellows that hypnotically weave their way through the walls of Hamersley Gorge could have you spellbound for hours!
Let the unique patterns of banded iron formation within the rock lead you through the gorge to one of the most photographed sites within Karijini, the famous Spa Pool and waterfall that cascades into it’s chilly depths.
For the ultimate “spa” experience, float in the aquamarine hues of the pool as the sun traverses the sky, constantly changing the colours from dawn to dusk.
Handrail Pool in Weano Gorge
A “must do” when visiting Karijini National Park in Western Australia is the iconic Handrail Pool in Weano Gorge.
It will set your heart racing on so many levels… spider walking through narrow gaps with running water below, scrambling over slippery rocks and finally, to the notorious Handrail Pool hidden within the depths of Weano Gorge.
With nothing more than a thin metal handrail and a few rough footholds, carefully descend into the breathtaking chill of the water to rinse off the red Pilbara dust.
A day here will leave you with the adrenalin pumping and an experience to remember!
Fortescue Falls and Circular Pool in Dales Gorge
Spring-fed Fortescue Falls cascades down a gentle slope of red-tinged rocks into a pool at the base of Dales Gorge. The cool water reflecting the green shades of the grasses and ferns that surround it.
The falls viewing area is a short walk from the nearby carpark. From there, steps with a handrail lead you down into the gorge, the falls and their pool… a relatively easy return hike of about one hour, suitable for most levels of fitness, and with the famous Fern Pool only a few minutes walk away.
For a little more adventure, continue on to the eastern end of Dales Gorge and the beautiful Circular Pool – about a 3 hour return hike to Fortescue Falls Carpark.
Circular Pool is the gem set within a large amphitheatre of rust coloured rock. It’s edges lined with bright green ferns and the softer tones of the trees.
It is easy to lose a day here in Dales Gorge.
Joffre Gorge is simply breathtaking!
From the first glimpse into the world below from the lookout at the top of Joffre Falls, you will be enchanted all the way to the end of the 2 hour return hike.
The challenge of the hiking trail, as you cling to narrow ledges and scramble over slippery rocks while picking your way carefully through the lacework of spiderwebs, doesn’t deter, but adds to the excitement and anticipation of reaching the destination… A spectacular rock walled amphitheatre at the base of Joffre Falls and a unique island of crushed rock.
It’s difficult to describe the beauty of watching the sun’s light as it rises and sets, the slanting rays illuminating the space and bringing out the entire range of colours in the banded iron formations.
This gorge in the heart of Karijini will enthral from dawn until dusk!
Kermit’s Pool in Hancock Gorge
Another favourite, and next level gorge-ous, is Kermit’s Pool… as you’d expect, a striking shade of green.
A ladder leads you down into Hancock Gorge, descending through millenia’s worth of multi-coloured rock layers. The rich reds and oranges a worthy distraction.
A relatively short, but easily one of the most spectacular, trails within Karijini.
Accessed from the Weano Recreation carpark, the trail takes you hiking through a narrow canyon into a natural amphitheatre negotiating rock ledges and stony creek beds along the way, so be prepared to get wet! Then, finally the infamous “spider walk” to the emerald green reward of Kermit’s Pool.
“Awesome!” is the only way to describe Knox Gorge.
The sheer scale of it can be appreciated from the Lookout as it cuts through Wittenoom Gorge.
Dusty green spinifex clumps and scraggly snappy gums line the top of the trail into the gorge. It’s not as steep as some, but without the aid of any steps or railing, it is definitely not the easiest. You can’t help but wonder how the tough little fig trees manage to survive clinging to their rocky outcrops.
A tricky scramble through the last few metres into the bottom of the gorge become the gateway to a trail of unexpected twists and turns through the deep red rock. Narrow ledges and even narrower gaps lead into a unique slot canyon.
This gorge was a real treat to explore!
The “Big Bang” of Karijini National Park is Oxer’s Lookout.
The 15 minute stroll from Weano carpark to the lookout does nothing to prepare you for the sheer enormity of the gaping rips in the earth’s crust that are the junction of four gorges – Weano, Hancock, Red and Joffre. Take a deep breath and brace yourself before peering over the edge.
Arguably one of the most stunning panoramas you will witness. It’s almost impossible not to feel insignificant in the face of these ancient geological formations, painted and sculpted to perfection by Mother Nature.
It is definitely worth a sunrise or sunset visit to experience the dramatic colours that come to life in the rocky walls of the gorges when the sun sits low on the horizon.
With walls that almost glow of rust-red, and perfect reflections in languid pools, Kalamina Gorge is one of the lesser-known gems deep within the national park.
This is one of the shallower gorges and the access road is more suited to a 4WD, but it is also surprisingly beautiful.
Rather than rugged rocky depths, it’s more open nature offers up a picturesque large pool surrounded by Snappy Gums, the water edged with lush green native grasses and ferns. The intensity of the warm reds that reflect off the rock are magnified as more sunlight reaches into the bottom of this gorge.
If you’re visiting earlier in the year just after Wet Season, don’t forget to check out Kalamina Falls. Similar to, but a smaller version of Joffre Falls, they can be quite pretty.
The second highest peak in Western Australia, Mount Bruce – Punurrunha in local Aboriginal language – is the pinnacle of the Pilbara.
Spectacular panoramic views make this climb a must-do when visiting Karijini National Park.
Most are lured by the gorges, but the six hour return hike to the summit of Mount Bruce is well worth the effort. Rise early to avoid the heat of the day, make sure you have plenty of water and the snacks are packed, for the reward at the top is worth a break to enjoy the view over the Hamersley Range.
If you are lucky, at the right time of year, the landscape is sprinkled with the purple and yellow of the wildflowers in season.
How to get there
The Pilbara is a 15-hour drive north from Perth, or a two-hour flight into Paraburdoo or Newman.
The park is generally 2WD accessible, however 4WD is recommended, particularly in the Wet Season.
Where to stay in Karijini
Dales Campground is nearby to Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and Circular Pool. It is basic camping with just a water tower. You will need to boil the water in order to use it. The public toilet and BBQ facilities there are very basic and not super clean.
Karijini Eco-Retreat is close to Joffre Gorge and offers a range of accommodations from basic campsites, to “glamping”, to eco-cabins.
Bookings are essential for both locations during the tourist season to avoid disappointment.
What to bring
- Bring an absolute minimum of 2 litres of water per person per day when bushwalking.
- Good quality hiking shoes or sandals.
- Sun protection and insect repellent.
- Snacks or picnic lunches.
- Spare clothes in case you get wet or cold while hiking.
A note to hikers…
Most of the trails are classified by number…
- Class 2 is suitable for families or those without bushwalking experience.
- Class 3 is for those with a little experience, and suitable for a variety of ages and fitness levels.
- Class 4 means you will need a good level of fitness and reasonable experience bushwalking.
- Class 5 requires both a high level of fitness and experience. Expect swimming, scrambling or climbing!
Whether it is the gorges, the waterways, the plains or the mountains… No matter what you choose to do in Karijini National Park in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, you will not be sorry.
The adventure of scrambling or spider walking through challenging trails within the gorges, swimming in the pools and cooling off under waterfalls.
The wonder of the colours painted by sunrise over a gorge or the sunset as it melts into the ancient outback landscape.
The total escape of gazing up at an ink-black sky sprinkled with the glitter of a million stars.
The highlights of Karijini can be whatever you are looking for… but one thing is for sure… it is the adventure of a lifetime.
How long should you spend in Karijini?
3 days at the barest minimum, but 5 days or more – especially if you’ve driven from a distance – to get the best of what the park has to offer.
When is the best time to visit Karijini?
April through October is the Dry Season and overall the best time to visit Karijini with fine days and cool nights. There are less visitors in the Wet Season (and more restricted access), with weather being more hot and humid at times… but the Wet Season brings spectacular storms with fast flowing falls and waterways. Always check local conditions when planning your visit.
Are there crocodiles in Karijini?
No… Crocodiles don’t tend to venture this far south or inland.