We departed Eighty Mile Beach last Wednesday and for once in our travels arrived at our intended destination – the de Grey River rest area. The area is 83km northeast of Port Headland on the Great Northern Highway or 71km southwest of Pardoo Roadhouse. Every once in a while we discover an ‘oasis’ out of nothing. When we drove into the rest area it appeared it was just another stop off amongst the tussock and red dirt. However after a wee bit of exploring we found that under the canopy of trees along the edge of the river was a lush green environment that looked more like the Waikato in the start of spring rather than Western Australia in the dry. It would have been easy to stay another night.
It was a crack of dawn start on Thursday as our plan was to drive to Port Hedland, stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables then continue along the Great Northern Highway into the Karijini National Park. Because we spent a bit longer at Port Hedland than planned and daylight was running short, we made our stop on Thursday night 230km later at the Albert Tognolini Rest area. The rest area is in Munjina Gorge and is at the top of a huge escarpment. The area is approximately twenty hectares, flat, grassy and the scenery is stunning. Being self contained (having your own power, water, shower and toilet) is a huge advantage over here as most of the best free and out of the way camping spots have none of those facilities and most require you to be self contained before you can access the site. Albert Tognolini rest area is just one example of this.
The Navigator was super excited on Friday morning. Her sister, Nicky, works as a Project Manager at the West Angelos Mine, about 70km from the Albert Tognolini Rest area and we had made arrangements to catch up for morning tea at the mine entrance road that morning. The girls had a great gossip and we parted company about an hour later as Nicky headed back to work and we made our way back to the entry road to the Karijini National Park.
Set in the Hamersley Range in the heart of the Pilbara, the Karijini National Park is Western Australia’s second largest national park and encompasses 627,442 hectares. This is an ancient part of the Earth. Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of flat valleys with erosion carving the shape of the Park from 2000 million year old rocks. Much of the southern part of the park is still inaccessible.
We arrived in the Park around midday on Friday, paid our National Park entry fee then booked two nights at the Dales Gorge camping ground. Like New Zealand DOC parks, toilets are normally available but that’s about it. Good self-containment is a huge advantage. After a quick bite to eat we took ourselves off on our first adventure and visited the Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool at the bottom of Dale Gorge. They were not too far from the camp but are a popular visitors spot and fitted perfectly with our late arrival.
On Saturday morning we took ourselves off and walked the Dales Gorge Rim. The walk follows the rim of Gorge between Circular Pool and the beginning of the Fortescue Falls track. The Navigator wanted to get a few shots of Circular Pool so the walk was a good fit with our days plan. One of the things we liked about the Park was that the walks were graded according to their difficulty. Class 2 walks were generally gentle and up to Class 5 that are difficult and a high level of fitness is required. We saw no point in making it difficult for ourselves so we pottered around the Class 2 to 4. We both now feel as though we have experienced enough gorges, waterfalls and pools. Climbing cliff faces has lost some of its excitement and we are quite happy to come away from the Park with no injuries.
Just when we had successfully survived the Northern Territory crocodile danger, we found that the Karijini is host to dingo, goanna, pythons and other snakes. There was a wary eye kept on our surroundings as we walked the Park and we carefully checked shoes before putting our feet into them.
A few more shots of our Karijini National Park visit HERE .
Our Plan A this morning was to make our way from the National Park to Tom Price but we were unable to get hold of son Josh to see if he could catch up. Rather than risk a 260km unproductive drive we will have to wait until we arrive in Perth at the end of September to see him again. Plan B kicked in and we made our way back along the Great Northern Highway to Port Headland. We decided on that route because when we leave Port Headland tomorrow we want to follow the coastal road through Wickham,Dampier, Karatha an onto Exmouth.
We used the time here today to top up with diesel, water, and groceries, do some washing and clean some of the red dirt from outside and inside the van. To be fair, we have not been bothered too much by the red dirt. The captain is very particular where he takes the motorhome. Our home for tonight is the Port Hedland Golf Club. They allow travellers to stay overnight in their carpark so we are taking advantage of their hospitality.
Tomorrow morning it’s on the road again. We will follow the North West Coastal Highway to our next overnight stop – wherever that may be. There is nothing planned.