Day 51: 19 July – Karijini National Park – Dales Gorge

Author: Mrs A

From: Two Camel Creek rest area

To: Dales Campground, Karijini National Park

Distance driven: 145 km

Distance hiked: 5.5 km

We were amazed to find we both actually had a relatively good night’s sleep in spite of the regular road train traffic on the nearby highway – I can’t say how deep it was, or vouch for the quality, but we didn’t feel dreadful when we woke up at 6am. We set off after breakfast, continuing up the highway and marvelling as the landscape changed from the flat spinnifex filled Little Sandy Desert to iron filled rolling hills and rock walls.

We arrived at our campground at around 11.30am and set up and unhitched. After a light lunch we headed off in the car out to the Visitor’s Centre, about 11km away. Our original plan was to stay here three nights, but we have decided that two will be enough. The campground is pretty sparse and dusty – nice big sites, but very little undergrowth returned since the fires here in May. We called our next campground, also in this national park, to move our booking back a day. 

The Visitor Centre was really interesting – very focused on the Aboriginal communities who lived here for tens of thousands of years, before becoming displaced by European settlers. It was uncomfortable to see how they were virtually enslaved to work on the cattle stations here, and how landmarks were renamed (eg one named as ‘Nameless Hill’) despite having an extremely long standing Aboriginal name. Cultural respect anyone?

 

And then there are the ecological impacts of Europeans. They/we introduced cattle to the Pilbara region. The Pilbara (Karijini sits within this region) is a semi-arid ecosystem, extremely delicate, balancing long months with no rain at all against the ‘wet’ where the whole region floods and rivers and waterfalls increase their depth by up to 20 metres. The cattle trampled the earth and ate the native grasses, which did not grow back without rain and the now solid trampled earth did not allow the seeds to germinate. So the pastoralists brought over some new grass from Africa which grew nicely here. In fact this grass sent out poison from its roots and killed most of the other plants, so it grew really well…the story goes on and on. It makes you shudder to think of the damage done here! There was no research done prior to the introduction of feral species so it is hard to know how the flora and fauna was impacted by this.


In spite of Europeans, this is a really interesting area. We took a stroll from our campground this afternoon to the Dales Gorge rim track, a number of lookouts over the gorge. It is extremely beautiful and very spiritual – you feel very connected to nature. We sat at one place for a while, enjoying the view and the birds that were soaring over the pools and trees below us.

I am writing at beer/vodka-soda-with-fresh-lime o’clock as we watch the sun dip down behind the hills. The temperature is already dropping and it is likely to be another 10 degree C night. Makes for very good sleeping! Tonight is not an AFD and we are even allowed wine tonight with our Thai green curry with Spanish Mackeral and vegetables. Lucky us!

No light pollution here, making for an incredible night sky…many photos taken 🙂 

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