Karijini, SHARKS and PADI.......
Trip Start Sep 25, 2003
59Trip End Apr 23, 2005
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Abstract: Left Newman for the glorious Pilbara region, all stocked up with fuel, camped over night at Wirra Munna, a waterhole with Aborigonal Art, arrived at Karijini NP and set up camp at Dales Gorge. Hiked to circular pool, Fortescue Falls and had a swim under a waterfall in Fern pool. Moved on to Joffre and Knox Gorges with more great hikes, waterfalls and swimming. The following day clambered down Weano Gorge to Handrail Pool, and all the way down Hancock Gorge to Kermit pool where Graham rock climbed down narrow ledges to Junction Pool and swam across to the waterfall at the bottom of Weano gorge... The following day climbed Mt Bruce Western Australia's second highest mountain, then off to Hammersley gorge where Rachel went to explore, Graham was too tired from Hancock the previous day
Nitty Gritty: Left Newman for Karijini NP in completely the wrong direction, we worked this out when the size of the trucks wheels got to be bigger than our landcruiser (which is not small) obviously we had taken the road to the Iron Ore mine. Its not really a mine, more the piece by piece removal of a mountain into 5km long trains by monster trucks.
Having established the correct road out of town we got about half way for the park and decided to camp at Wirra Munna aborigonal art site, as usual some baffoon had scratched stick men and pictures of pubs on the rocks, but the art was still pretty good, abstracts and a couple of very fat roos
That night we enjoyed our first shower in a long time, it took the form of a canvas bucket attached to a rope and pulley with a tap and shower head attached to the bottom. After such a long time it was fantastic! Smelling as sweet as daisies we set of the next morning to the spot (Oxers Lookout) where four narrow gorges meet, Weano, Red, Hancock and Knox. Enthused by this breathtaking spot we set off down Weano gorge to Handrail pool where our explorations (helped by a..you guessed it..a handrail) were abruptly stopped by icy water. We watched as four Aussies jumped in and swam across and off down the gorge. We figured we could swim only one quarter as fast as them so increased our opportunities for hyperthermia four fold and chickened out. returning to the surface we tackled Hancock Gorge next and this time a cliff put off Rachel at Kermit pool where a narrow smooth gorge falls away towards the meeting point, imginativily titled 'Junction pool'. Rachel couldn't face the climb down so Graham intrepidly (or foolishly) carried on clambering down icy steep waterfalls and swimming pools until finally reaching Junction Pool. A bracing 100m swim lead to the Waterfall emptying Weano gorge and after taking a photo and waving to the microscopic people at the lookout I set off back wondering if my ability to sire children had been permanantly reduced...
Having had our fill of Gorges we set off to Mount Bruce (1235m), where after sneekily camping in the car park, we set off in the morning, it was a strange moderate climb, with a view on one side of a mountain being dismantled for iron ore and a fabulous view of the Hammersley range on the other
After a roadside pulloff camp we set of for the sea! As soon as we pulled onto the Bitumin of Highway 1, we got a puncture! 3000km on rough dirt tracks and no problems 100km of 'black top' and puncture.....
We changed the wheel and arrived at the sea at Coral Bay, and was immeadiatly shocked by seeing hundreds of people, after the isolation of the past weeks in the desert it came as a big upset.... we complained to each other about radios, banal backpackers, filthy hippies and everything else before realising we would have to adjust fast.
The next morning our mood lifted as we booked a scuba diving training course and went to the beach for a snorkel. This part of the west coast is famous for Ningaloo reef which is just off the shore (only 50m) so you can snorkel to it. Sure enough it was fantastic... thousands and thousands of colourful fish everywhere. Add this to nice beaches and turquoise seas, lovely.
Our course started in Exmouth 150km up the reef, in two days so we headed up there and booked into a caravan park for what we thought would be 4 nights and ended up being two weeks...
Successfully passing our medicals, we spent the next three days in the swimming pool and classroom learning the theory and basics of Scuba
Exmouth is famously a calling point for the worlds largest sharks, the whale shark, which can grow to 60feet long! Luckily it doesn't eat humans! We went off the next day for a full days boat trip to try to spot them. Our luck was in as we ended up swimming with three different sharks up to 7m on 6 different occassions....WOW! they looked at first as if made from rubber, and it was difficult to comprehend these were fish. Amazing. Unfortunately Rachel turned green and started with an attack of sea sickness, several times, Graham tried to make her feel better by tucking into prawns and chicken for lunch. We also saw Humpback whales, but next to the sharks what would normally have been really exciting became quite ordinary, funny thing perspective.
We spent the next two days in Cape Range NP, snorkelling off turquoise bay where the current drifts you over fabulous coral packed with fish, all for no effort
We had booked to go out to the Murion Islands the following day and were treated to the most beautiful corals and clear water, two dives later (and no sea sickness) we decided we were addicted to diving.
We had only two more days left before we had to leave Exmouth so decided to go scuba diving with manta rays and back to the Navy Pier.
The manta part of the day was a bit of an anticlimax as we saw only glimpses of these 5m rays, but this was compensated by swims with both leopard and lemon sharks, and an hour with 3 Humpback whales! this time we were really impressed as they jumped clear of the water...!
Our last dive at the navy pier was amazing there where big fish everywhere, you had to practicaly shoo them out of the way, some of the sharks and esturine cod (bigger than me) we swam round to avoid 'bothering' them... the guide reckoned we saw more than 200 species... wow.. we are going to be sorry to leave here tommorrow...