Day 53: 21 July – Karijini National Park – the southern part

Author: Mrs A

Distance driven: 75km

From: Karijini National Park – Dales Campground

To: Karijini National Park – Savannah Campground  (Karijini Eco Retreat)

Distance hiked: 5km

Floors climbed: 19

Once again we hitched up the mobile apartment and moved on after a light breakfast, this time heading to the southern part of Karijini and the Savannah Campground. This is a private campground within the national park, coupled with an ‘Eco Retreat’ (canvas cabins with king size beds, luxury hotel quality linen, private en-suites and decks, all set amongst the beauty of the national park – a bit like our mobile apartment but not quite as nice). We get hot solar showers and flushing toilets. The ‘Retreat’ is fully Aboriginal owned, and run by a hospitality company.

We arrived around 11am and after a bit of confusion with their site allocation for us (the first already being occupied by two tents, the second pretty much the smallest on the campsite!) we finally settled down on an attractive spot. This is much more picturesque than the Dales campground with a lot more birdlife – there has not been fire here, which helps.

We decided to tackle the walk nearest to us, to Joffre Gorge. While only 5km was hiked all together, it was a tough one with a lot of climbing. We arrive at the top of the gorge and look down to a emerald coloured pool, about 150 metres below us. We then have to clamber down the cliff to it. This is a class 5 (the most challenging) hike, with no handrails, no man made steps, and quite precarious drops. We get most of the way down, and Mr A is overcome with vertigo and cannot make it further. I have to admit my heart is also pounding after my hiking pole had slipped on a rock and plummeted down. I reach the bottom where the pool is, and find my hiking pole safely landed on a nearby rock.

It is lovely, but there is more. I now need to carefully pick my way along the sediments in the rock along the smooth cliff edge, the pool beneath me, to reach another part of the gorge. Trying not to think about the non-waterpoof camera around my neck, and regretting having the hiking pole (now feeling more of a hindrance than help), I make my way around safely. Around the corner, through a two metre wide crack in the rock is a beach and Joffre Falls. I would say it was really picturesque, and it mostly was, apart from the man with the big beer belly sitting at the bottom of the falls and his wife with the loud sweary voice yelling across at him.

‘You’re never alone in WA’ – our new slogan for Western Australia.

I clambered up and rejoined Mr A, and we continued on the walk along the rim of the gorge. We crossed the top of the waterfall and saw a number of pretty lizards enjoying hunting around the water. Photographs really do not do the scenery justice – it is arid and dramatic, the colours startling in the afternoon sun. When you see the gorges they really do take your breath away.

We returned to camp for sunset beers before showering and retiring for the evening with a bottle of Fat Cat Shiraz, a madras curry and two episodes of Shetland. Another fine day in WA.

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