AUSTRALIA,  WESTERN AUSTRALIA

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK

Karijini National Park is one of the best places to visit in Western Australia. Sheer cliffs providing spectacular views. Dramatic gorges with walking trails. Rock pools offering a refreshing treat. Sounds like a paradise? You won’t be disappointed. There is no single place in Karijini National Park I wouldn’t recommend. What do you need to know before visiting this place? Where can you stay overnight? Is there an entry fee? Do you need a 4WD to access the national park? In this blog post, I’m going to answer the above questions.

HOW FAR IS KARIJINI FROM PERTH?

Karijini National Park is located in the northwestern section of Western Australia, over 1300 km from Perth. As this is a remote destination, don’t expect to get any reception or Internet here. The closet petrol station, Munjina Roadhouse, is over 60 km from the national park. Another 100 km in an opposite direction will get you to the petrol station in Tom Price. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a reasonable supply of food, water and fuel with yourself when visiting this place. Some grocery shopping can be done in Karijini Eco Retreat.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

Australia’s summer is low season in Karijini National Park. Temperatures frequently exceed 40°C which makes hiking very challenging. What’s more, summer rainfall and thunderstorms may cause flash flows in the gorges which very often result in a temporary national park closure. On the other hand, off-season means fewer visitors which is a huge advantage. Consequently, Australia’s winter is high season in Karijini National Park. Days are warm, the weather is more reliable, but the place may be packed with tourists.

IS THERE AN ENTRY FEE?

Park visitor fees apply in Karijini National Park. A day entry fee is AUD 15 for a vehicle and needs to be paid at the entrance stations. If you want to avoid paying entry fees for accessing national parks in Western Australia, a purchase of periodic pass is a smart choice. It will help you save some money if there are other national parks on your itinerary. Make sure to print the pass and keep it displayed on your dashboard at all times. It’s worth to say that separate fees apply for camping in national parks regardless of having this pass.

WHERE TO SEEK INFORMATION?

National park maps are available at the entrance stations. If you seek more information, drop by the Visitor Centre located in the eastern section of Karijini National Park. It’s open from March to November between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Opening hours may be reduced in low season with occasional closures. If this is the case and you are uncertain about conditions in the gorges, feel free to chat with park ranges who are always around. They are knowledgeable about Karijini National Park, and more than happy to help.

WHERE TO STAY OVERNIGHT?

Karijini National Park has two campsites. Dales Gorge is located in the eastern section of the national park. It costs AUD 11 per night for an adult and you need to book it online. Facilities include toilets only. Karijini Eco Retreat is a privately held campsite in the western section of the national park. Facilities include bathrooms, toilets, kitchen and barbecue. Prices vary dependently on the month. In low season it costs AUD 20 per night for an adult. Booking may be needed in peak season as more tourists arrive to enjoy this place.

Karijini Eco Retreat
Karijini Eco Retreat

WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO?

Karijini National Park is an exceptional and unique place. I would definitely recommend staying here between 3 and 5 days. There are 7 gorges open for visitors, and a 2WD car is sufficient to access 6 of them. If you want to visit Kalamina Gorge, you do need a 4WD car. Another attraction of Karijini National Park is Mount Bruce (1235 m), the second-tallest peak in Western Australia. This challenging walk will reward you with spectacular views of the landscape. Please note that it’s dangerous to enter the gorges if it rains. Flash floods are common in Karijini National Park and pose a serious risk if you are hiking in the gorge.

Karijini National Park map
Karijini National Park – map
DALES GORGE

If you are heading to Karijini National Park from Perth, it’s a good idea to explore Dales Gorge first, and stay overnight at the campsite nearby. Follow the path from the carpark towards Circular Pool Lookout to admire the views. Isn’t this place just stunning? Descend the steps down a steep slope to the bottom of the gorge. Enjoy the walk among tall Eucalyptus trees, and keep your eyes peeled for lizards. Ramble along the gorge floor to Fortescue Falls. 10 minutes more and you will get to Fern Pool. Good news is that you can swim in both places. So why don’t you take a dip before going back to the carpark? Make the most of it!

Fortescue Falls Carpark – Circular Pool Lookout – Three Ways Lookout – Fortescue Falls – Fern Pool – Fortescue Falls Carpark

Hiking trail: around 4,5 km (loop), 2,5 hours
Trail class: 2, 3, 4
Trail access: 2WD (sealed road)

Karijini National Park Dales Gorge
Karijini National Park Fern Pool
Dales Gorge
MOUNT BRUCE

Mount Bruce is the second-tallest peak in Western Australia (1235 m). The mountain lies 60 km from Dales Gorge. The walking track to the summit is quite challenging. It consists of class 2, 3 and 5 sections. The first section is class 2, quite short, only 250 m. Next section is class 3, a bit longer, 2,5 km. The last section is the longest, class 5 – 4,5 km, and approximately 450 m gain. A high level of fitness and agility are required to get to the top of the mountain. Views along the way are absolutely amazing! This time you can stay overnight at Karijini Eco Retreat. The campsite is in a close proximity to other gorges that you will visit on following days.

Mount Bruce Carpark – Marandoo View – Honey Hakea Track – Mount Bruce Summit – Honey Hakea Track – Marandoo View – Mount Bruce Carpark

Hiking trail: 15 km, 6 hours (return)
Trail class: 2, 3, 5
Trail access: 2WD (unsealed road for last 3 km)

Karijini National Park Mount Bruce
Karijini National Park Mount Bruce
Mount Bruce
KNOX GORGE

It’s time to explore the gorges in the western section of Karijini National Park. Knox Gorge is located only 15 km from Karijini Eco Retreat. As you arrive, take the steps down to the lookout and then, if you want to climb down the gorge, follow the class 5 walking track. It is quite steep at the beginning, and it also involves some rock climbing. Most probably, you will have to scramble along the gorge to make it through, especially if water level is high. Be careful and watch your steps because I spotted here a snake! I’m not joking.

Knox Gorge Carpark – Knox Lookout – Knox Gorge – Knox Gorge Carpark

Hiking trail: 2,3 km, 1,5 hours (return)
Trail class: 2, 5
Trail access: 2WD (unsealed road for last 4 km)

Karijini National Park Knox Gorge
Karijini National Park Knox Gorge
Knox Gorge
JOFFRE GORGE

Joffre Gorge is not too far from Knox Gorge, and it has two spectacular lookouts. The first one is very close to the carpark and it’s easily accessible. The second one is on the other side. To get there you need to follow the main walking track and then turn left before it leads you to the bottom of the gorge. The main walking track consists of class 4 and 5 sections. Rock steps that take you down to the gorge constitute the toughest part. The rest of the trail is relatively easy. The track ends at the pool downstream of the waterfall.

Joffre Gorge Carpark – Joffre Lookout – Joffre View – Joffre Waterfall – Joffre Gorge Carpark

Hiking trail: around 2,3 km, 1,5 hours (return)
Trail class: 3, 4, 5
Trail access: 2WD (unsealed road for last 4 km)

Karijini National Park Joffre Gorge
Karijini National Park Joffre Gorge
Joffre Gorge
WEANO GORGE

Weano Gorge blew my mind! At the end of the track, there’s a deep pool, surrounded by precipitous cliffs, called Handrail Pool. This place is absolutely beautiful. The walking track starts with class 2 section, then turns into class 4 track, and finally goes down to the bottom of the gorge and leads you through narrow passengers (class 5). You don’t have to go back the same way. The class 4 track goes around the gorge so you may take this one to return to the carpark. Do I have to mention that this is my favourite gorge?

Weano Gorge Carpark – Handrail Pool – Weano Gorge – Weano Gorge Carpark

Hiking trail: 1,2 km, 1 hour (return)
Trail class: 4, 5
Trail access: 2WD (unsealed road)

Karijini National Park Weano Gorge
Karijini National Park Weano Gorge
Weano Gorge
HANCOCK GORGE

Hancock Gorge is located close to Weano Gorge. Not a surprise that there is a viewing platform. Follow the class 2 trail to take in views from the lookout. Take the class 5 trail to get to the bottom of the gorge. This time you don’t have to climb the rocks, just negotiate the ladder. However, some climbing skills may be needed down the gorge if water lever is high. The walking track ends at Kermits Pool. Take your time to enjoy the place, and then walk back the same road to the carpark. An amazing place, do you agree?

Hancock Gorge Carpark – Kermits Pool – Hancock Gorge – Hancock Gorge Carpark

Hiking trail: 1,5 km, 1 hour (return)
Trail class: 2, 5
Trail access: 2WD (unsealed road)

Hancock Gorge

OTHER PLACES
  • Kalamina Gorge – 3 km, 2 hours (return), class 4, 4WD access, around 20 km from Karijini Eco Retreat
  • Hamersley Gorge – 400 m, 1 hour (return), class 3, 2WD access, around 55 km from the western park entrance station, including 32 km of unsealed road

This is all you need to know before visiting Karijini National Park. Which gorge looks the most interesting to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below!