! At this lookout the four main Gorges in the NP all converge at this spot. It was often difficult to get perspective, as the sheer immensity of it all was nothing any of us have ever experienced. The view into Circular Pool was also phenomenonal. We swam at Fern Pool and made the Class 5 hike into Handrail Pool. In the NP's in WA all the hikes and walks are graded on their difficulty - beginning at Grade 1 for easy going up to Grade 6 which is for experienced rock climbers and abseilers who have the appropriate qualifications. The hike down Weano Gorge (Grade 3), on our way to Handrail Pool, involved swimming through pools of freezing water or scaling the rock edges of the gorge to get through certain parts. Mostly the hike was a gorgeous walk next to the river flowing over rocks with small trees and shrubs sprouting out of the red, brown and yellow limestone rocks. The hike soon turned into Grade 5, the most difficult before you need equipment. Ant and I had discussed earlier if either Astrid or Amon freaked out or felt they didn’t want to go any further, or if we thought it was too dangerous – then we would turn around and go back. As the track turned into Grade 5 the gorge narrowed and we edged our way along the walls of the gorge, the water rushed between our legs. At the point where the handrail begins it looks as if the gorge just plummets into the green pool of water below. I hesitated and held the kids back as Ant went on to explore whether it was do-able. He came back saying the kids could manage with his help
. Amon went first, clinging to the handrail as Ant guided and held him as they lowered themselves on the rocks below. Next was Astrid, our little monkey with no fear made it with ease. After I did it I realised it did look scarier than it was and so, so worth it. Handrail Pool was a magnificent jade green colour in a circular gorge with sheer, red rocky cliff faces surrounding us from all angles. It’s the only gorge I have hiked into where you enter it with the waterfall... usually you walk into a gorge and see the waterfall unlike this one where you come into it with the waterfall! Ant took a swim through to where the gorge turns into Grade 6 – we were all saying we wish you were with us Dave as you could have could have done the sections for experienced rock climbers! Needless to say Ant and I were super proud of the kids negotiating the steep, slippery, tricky terrain with smiles and only words of encouragement to each other. This trip has certainly sharpened their already keen sense of adventure and willingness to experience new things – love em!!! On the walk out we were all elated and on a high, such an amazing experience for us all.
We also walked into Fortescue Falls, Grade 3 as well, but after Weano Gorge we reckon it should have been Grade 1! The walk was down the steep cliff face to get close up to the Falls - just gorgeous! The rocks formed natural staircases to explore the various views of the falls, Dales gorge and the pool of water at the bottom of the falls
. We then continued on a short track to Fern Pool. Fern Pool is a significant site for the Aboriginal people whose land Karajini is home to. Although you are allowed to enter the water at the Pool and swim over to the twin waterfalls that tumble into the Pool it is asked of you to do so with utmost respect for the cultural significance of the site and to use the ladder provided to dip into the Pool quietly as not to disturb the spirits. Despite the sign that that asked tourists to respect the site we unfortunately arrived with others who either had no idea or did and didn’t care. They yelled and bombed into the water with blatant disregard. Astrid and Amon were both appalled by the lack of respect, Amon becoming quite upset by the noise and disrespect the other tourists displayed. However we entered the water calmly and slowly and swam out to the waterfalls, absolutely beautiful and so tranquil away from the maddening crowd.
We have all enjoyed learning more about the traditions and scared places of our indigenous people. As we travel through the Pilbarra we are following the “Warlu Way” the way the Dreamtime Serpent created the ancient landscape and waterways. The Warlu Way began in Exmouth and continues on to Broome. Its a beautiful way to travel with this awareness. It’s a very interesting juxtaposition with the mining that goes on through the area. I have thought long and hard about the issues... And I have have come to interesting conclusions which I won’t bore you with them here on the blog. More Warlu Way dreaming from us soon ...
From Tom Price Karajini National Park was a short drive away. We arrived and took the scenic route to Dales Campground, stopping on the way at Joffres Gorge lookout. "Wow! Wow! Wow!" Steep rocky cliff faces fell away plunging into a deep gorge making a natural amphitheatre at the end where the waterfall cascaded over the rocky ledges. At one end the waterfall, just a thin trickle, not a gushing torrent as it would in the wet season, but beautiful regardless. The waterfall emptied into a deep pool of cold grey water and we could see some people, tiny specks, who had hiked into the gorge. The gorge was so steep that no sunlight fell into it, the other end winded away out of sight. This was just the beginning of being awe-struck. The following days we explored Kalimina Gorge, Dales Gorge, Fortescue Falls and Weano Gorge. The views from Oxer Lookout provided the most awe-some views, we had to step away from the railings when we first arrived, as the straight 100 metre drop made us all dizzy