Located in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, Karijini National Park is our pride and joy. Our natural wonder which remains relatively undiscovered by tourists. With its stunning gorges, waterfalls, and pristine natural landscapes, Karijini is a true oasis in the middle of the Australian outback. If visiting Karrijini is on the cards for 2023, we thought we’d get a list together about how to get there, what to pack and, more importantly – the best gorges to visit!
How to Get to Karijini
Karijini National Park is located about 1400km north of Perth. The easiest way to get there is by flying into Paraburdoo Airport, which is about a 45-minute drive from the park or Tom Price/ Newman, which is about a 2-hour drive away. If flying is your chosen means of transport, you’ll have to hire a suitable car which you can do from most domestic airports.
If you’re driving, the park is accessible via the Great Northern Highway. The road is sealed all the way to the park entrance, and the journey from Perth takes about 15 hours. However, it’s important to note that the roads in this region, once further north, can be dangerous, especially during the wet season, so it’s best to check the conditions before setting off.
Top Gorges to See at Karijini
One of the main attractions of Karijini National Park is its incredible gorges, which are carved into the red rocks by millions of years of erosion. Here are some of the top gorges we’d recommend once you’ve made it up there:
- Dales Gorge: This is one of the most popular gorges in the park (and for good reason)! With a series of waterfalls, swimming holes, and walking trails, there is a seemingly neverending list of vantage points and views on offer. The most famous feature of the gorge is the famous Fortescue Falls, a stunning 20m waterfall that plunges into a deep swimming pool.
- Weano Gorge: Weano Gorge is another awesome option for Karrijini first-timers! This narrow, winding gorge features spectacular red rock walls, breathtaking waterfalls, and clear pools for swimming. The trail to Weano Gorge is a moderate hike, with some steep sections, but the views are well worth the effort. The contrast between the water and the endless desert here is pretty epic!
- Hamersley Gorge: Hamersley Gorge is another must-visit spot in Karijini National Park. This wide, open gorge is surrounded by towering rock formations and features a series of cascading waterfalls and clear swimming holes. The trail to Hamersley Gorge is a bit longer than some other hikes in the park, but the scenery is seriously worth it! Just make sure you pack a heap of water and food, as this could be an all-day thing.
- Hancock Gorge: Hancock Gorge is a more challenging hike than some other gorges in Karijini National Park, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. This narrow gorge features steep walls, deep pools, and stunning waterfalls. The trail to Hancock Gorge involves some climbing and scrambling, so it’s best suited to experienced hikers.
- Mount Bruce: Mount Bruce is the highest peak in Western Australian, and offers stunning views across Karijini National Park and the surrounding landscape. The summit can be reached via a challenging hike that takes around 6-8 hours to return, but the views from the top are truly unforgettable. It’s sparse, secluded and well worth the effort.
Where to Stay Near Karijini
There are a number of accommodation options in and around Karijini National Park, ranging from basic campsites to luxurious eco-resorts. Here are some of the best options, in our opinion:
- Karijini Eco Retreat: This eco-resort is located within the park, and offers a range of accommodation options, from safari tents to deluxe eco villas. The retreat also has a restaurant and bar, and offers a range of tours and activities that pay respect to the local indigenous owners of the land.
- Dales Gorge Campground: This campground is located in the heart of Dales Gorge, and offers basic camping facilities, including toilets, showers and running water. There are also picnic tables and BBQs, and the campground is within walking distance of Fortescue Falls.
- Tom Price Tourist Park: This caravan park is located in the nearby town of Tom Price, and offers a range of accommodation options, from powered sites to cabins. The park has a swimming pool, BBQ facilities, and a camp kitchen (basically everything you need).
Where to Eat Near Karijini
There are a number of dining options in and around Karijini National Park, most are geared towards casual dining due to the sheer remoteness. Here are some of the best options:
- Karijini Eco Retreat Restaurant: This restaurant is located within the Karijini Eco Retreat, and offers a range of locally sourced and sustainable meals, focusing on fresh, seasonal produce. The menu features a mix of Australian and international cuisine, and there are vegetarian and gluten-free options available.
- Tom Price Tavern: This casual pub-style restaurant is located in the nearby town of Tom Price, and offers a range of classic Australian pub food, including burgers, steaks, and seafood. The restaurant also has a bar and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
What to Pack for Karijini
If you’re planning a trip to Karijini National Park, it’s important to pack carefully to ensure you’re prepared for the unique challenges and conditions of the Australian outback. Here are some of the essential items to bring with you:
- Water bottles: Staying hydrated is crucial when visiting Karijini National Park, especially during the hotter months. Ensure you bring plenty of water bottles and refill them regularly to avoid dehydration.
- Sunscreen: The Australian sun can be harsh, even in the cooler months, so it’s important to protect your skin with sunscreen. Choose a water-resistant high-SPF sunscreen and apply it regularly throughout the day.
- Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can be a problem in Karijini National Park, especially around dusk and dawn. Bring a good quality insect repellent and apply it liberally to avoid being bitten.
- Comfortable and sturdy footwear: The hiking trails in Karijini National Park can be rocky and uneven, so it’s important to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear. Choose shoes that provide good support and grip, and make sure you break them in before your trip.
- Hat: A wide-brimmed hat is essential for protecting your face and neck from the sun’s rays. Choose a hat that’s lightweight and breathable, and has a chin strap to keep it in place on windy days. Also, you could even opt for a net attached to your hat! Some months attract some serious flies, so you’d want to be prepared for that, too.
- Lightweight clothing: Karrinjiji can be hot and dry, so it’s important to wear lightweight, breathable clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable. Choose clothes made from natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, and avoid dark colours that will absorb heat.
- Warm clothing: While the days in Karijini National Park can be hot, the nights can be chilly, especially during the cooler months. Bring warm clothing, such as a jacket or sweater, to wear in the evenings.
- First aid kit: Accidents can happen, even on well-marked hiking trails. Bring a small first aid kit with you that includes bandages, antiseptic, and any prescription medications you may need.
Karijini National Park is a true gem of Western Australia, offering stunning natural landscapes and unique cultural experiences. With its incredible gorges, pristine wilderness, and range of accommodation and dining options, Karijini is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to this part of Australia. So pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful and unspoilt regions of the country.