Karijini National Park
About the Park
Karijini National Park is a wonderful example of classic Pilbara scenery. The spectacular Hamersley Range, with its majestic rocky red slopes, is intertwined in a beautiful tapestry of green spinifex and the stark white of Snappy Gums. However, the unique beauty of Karijini lies deep within. Narrow slits in the landscape give way to some of Australia's most beautiful and unique gorges.
Originally known as Hamersley Range NP, Karijini National Park is WA's 2nd largest park. It is basically separated into two areas, north and south of Karijini Drive (the road connecting Tom Price to the Great Northern Highway).
Most of the attractions and "action" is in the northern section, which is also home to the Visitor Centre and both campgrounds.
The Northern section is then essentially split into an eastern and western part. The east is home to Dales campground, which is walking distance to Dales Gorge, Circular Pool, Fern Pool and Fortescue Falls.
The western section has the more upmarket Savannah Campground, which is near a collection of the Park's other main gorges, namely Knox, Joffres, Weano and associated features.
One really exciting part of Karijini National Park is that many of the walks are a genuine adventure that require the bush walker to scramble, climb and wade through wild and rugged terrain. Fortunately it seems that the fear of litigation which seems to drive so much of our society has not fully caught up with these amazing bushwalks. An excellent grading system for all walks informs travellers of the difficulty and potential dangers.
Available in two spots.
Dales Campground has excellent, roomy bush camping with basic facilities.
- Adult: $6.50 per night
- Children $2
- Concession: $4.50
In peak periods, such as July school holidays, the campsites can fill up early in the day. If visiting in these periods, consider camping just outside the park and get going early the next morning to get a spot. Suggestions for camping just outside the park include Tom Price, Mount Robinson free stay (approx 120km north of Newman and 70km from the Park) and Hamersley Gorge Truckstop (northwest of the park).
Karijini Eco Retreat (Savannah Campground) offers more up-market accommodation and facilities and is more expensive to camp in. Campground is a more corporate style. It is owned by the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation.
- $25 per site for 2 people
- $10 per additional person
- Under 16 free
Camp sites can be pre booked
by phoning 08 9189 8013
Luxury eco-tents with king size beds and ensuites $270 per night.
If you are looking to camp in this amazing area, Karijini National Park is not the only camping worth experiencing. For a huge area around Karijini there are many other free camps, and many of them can be found in free camping guides that save us stacks of money as we travel.
FREE CAMPING Australia Guides
Best time of year
We prefer August/September, just before it gets too hot, or Autumn. Winter months generally provide beautiful warm and clear days, but nights can get very cold, largely due to the altitude. Minus 4 degrees is the coldest we have had, which makes socialising outside a little difficult. Winter also makes swimming in the spectacular pools of the gorges a very challenging experience.
Tom Price is the nearest town to Karijini National Park, being approx 90km to the east of the Visitors Centre.
Although a remote town, Tom Price is well serviced due to its large Iron Ore mining operations. It has a large supermarket, mechanical supplies etc.
This is the cheapest town in the Pilbara for fuel supplies (apparently subsidised by Hamersley Iron). Whilst in Tom Price, be sure to take the 4WD track to the top of Mt Nameless for great Pilbara scenery and views of the huge iron ore trains.
Newman is 190km south of Karijini National Park along the Great Northern Highway. Similar to Tom Price, Newman has almost all supplies that a traveller could want, albeit at fairly heavy prices.
Things to do
Bush walking, sightseeing, swimming, photography, enjoying nature (geology, flora and fauna) and wildflowers.
Be sure to experience the treasures that are Dales Gorge, Circular Pool, Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool, Hancock Gorge, Joffre Gorge, Weano Gorge among others. Consider allowing plenty of time to explore this park, including rest days, as the walks can be fairly taxing.
Toilets (pit), water, information bay, picnic tables, gas barbecues and a well resourced Visitor Centre.
All rubbish must be taken with you. This is the most disappointing aspect of the Karijini National Park, with all the bins at roadside stops around the park constantly overflowing and litter blowing in all directions as campers try to do the right thing.
It would appear that The Dept. of Environment and Conservation need to take ownership of this problem for the good of the
The walks in Karijini National Park certainly can be dangerous, but with a good dose of common sense, they can be safely enjoyed by young and old alike.
Some tour operators appear to use the danger argument to sell their services and attract fit, able bodied people who could easily do the walks on their own, and for free. Many families (ours included, with kids 4,6 & 8 yrs old) tackle the walks all the way up to grade 5 and love it (above grade 5 requires abseiling).
Being such a large park, there is a lot of distance between places. Plan fuel supplies carefully to allow full exploration of the park and to prevent trips back to Tom Price.
For example, to camp at Dales and drive to the Weano end of the park is over 140km round trip. Full exploration of this end of the park will mean travelling this distance quite a few times.
National Park Entry Fees Western Australia
- Car per day $10 or $5 concession or motorbike.
- Holiday pass valid 4 weeks $35
- Annual Local Pass unlimited access to one park or a group of local parks 1 year $20 per car.
- Yearly pass- unlimited access to all WA parks for 1 year $75 per car $50 concession (current 2009).
It is well worth looking at a yearly pass, annual local pass or holiday pass, depending on what area you will be travelling in. Basically the parks in WA are so beautiful that it is almost impossible to spend only one day in any one park. Given that each park will likely have you visiting a few times, it quickly becomes a good investment to have one of the multiple entry passes mentioned above.
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