Sunday, 23 September 2012

23 Sept - 1 October 2012 - Karijini National Park, Tom Price

We ummed and arred about going to Karijini NP as it involved an extra 500km round trip.  In the end we decided to go and had 5 nights in the park.  The 250km drive from Port Hedland to the park was interesting as the road had been closed for a day due to bushfires so there was a buildup of vehicles.  We passed (in opposite directions) over 100 Triple B roadtrains carrying equipment from Newman Mine and there were even more travelling in our direction. 

There were dozens of these oversized roadtrains carrying prefabricated mine components.

Karijini NP, on first appearances, is scrubby and uninteresting looking, but it hid some of the best gorges we’ve come across.  We did so much walking we were all in bed and asleep by 8.30pm and on our final night we were all in bed by 7.30pm!  Unheard of for me.

Kate's grown so much on this trip!

Fortesque Falls

Unusual wave patterns in the rocks.

Fortesque falls and swimming hole were beautiful - just a brief steep walk in and out.

On our final day, we went to ‘Kermit’s Pool’ which involved a steep descent into a gorge, a scramble along the gorge floor crossing backwards and forwards over the water, then a swim or some impromptu abseiling through a narrow gorge (Larry and Kate swam while Elizabeth and I managed to cling precariously to the wall), then a scramble down a small waterfall, over some boulders, then do the spider walk (walk with legs spread apart on each side of a narrow section of the gorge), then arrive at this lovely little pool called Kermit’s Pool.  What an adventure getting there!  Larry gave us all a fright by slipping off one of the walls and landing heavily in the water but he was OK.  On the way back I decided to swim the gorge section.  We all agreed it was a top day out but combined with the other gorge walks and swimming we had done over the previous 4 days, we were all knackered, hence the early night!  Karijini is a top national park, and yet again, proves that to get the most out of the park you have to be active.  You need to be physically capable to undertake the walks and swims - this is not a national park to be left until you have dodgy knees, ankles or hips!

The start of the walk. First you had to get down to the water.

I was trying not to get wet but swam this section on the return journey.

If you didn't want to swim parts of the walk, this was your alternative!

Our destination - Kermit's Pool.  The walk did continue but you needed ropes and hard hats.  Not
items we normally carry in our daypacks!

Chilling out on the return journey.

We did make a detour into Tom Price, the iron ore town and did the mine tour.  It was interesting, but I think we’ve done enough mine tours now – bauxite at Weipa (Q), uranium at Roxby Downs (SA) and now iron ore at Tom Price (WA).  I do intend for us to do the Port tour at Dampier though, just so we can see the final part of the process, but then that’s it for mine tours!! I don't think I'll get any complaints from Elizabeth and Kate who think mine tours are one big yawn after the first 10 minutes or so.
Hard hats and safety glasses.  At least we didn't need long pants and collared shirts
like some other tours.

The General Mine Manager at Tom Price is a woman who began as a truck driver!

Just one of many, many, large trucks we saw working at the mine.
The main ore body almost exhausted.  There are plenty of other deposits within the mine lease area.
8 bay vehicle maintenance shed.  There are two men standing in front (centre) of this dump truck.
We never saw a single vehicle this colour at the mine site! All the processing equipment is
also painted yellow or orange and the only time you see the colour is after a downpour.
Elizabeth had her 11th birthday while we were in the park.  I made a double tiered cake with melted dark and white chocolate mixed with cream as the icing, and about $40 worth of Lindt chocolates on top!  While it was Qld school holidays, it wasn't for WA, so the park didn't have a lot of kids.  I think she was really feeling not having the usual family members around to celebrate.  Anyway, during one of the gorge swims she met two girls from Adelaide and they and their mum came over for afternoon tea and to share the cake.  It felt a bit like rent-a-crowd, but made the occasion a bit merrier for her.  Her main gift was a Kindle so hopefully that will solve our constant challenge of having enough books for her to read.  When we left the park and finally got reception (about 1 km out from Auski roadhouse), she had 8 messages from family. 

Given we weren't having a party, I'm not sure why we decided to make these rice puff balls. Made
with rice bubbles and nutella, they tasted like chocolate crackles.  The girls were very excited
about having nutella for the first time.


After leaving the national park, we decided to spend a night at the caravan park attached to the Auski roadhouse about 70km away.  In the last 12 months over 30 caravan sites have been converted to a demountable accommodation camp for approx 200 workers.  They have all their meals in the restaurant at the roadhouse and travel by bus over 100km each way to their mine.  Must be a mine field of a different type for the roadhouse owners! 

Old mine truck tyres used as insulation around the generator shed at Auski roadhouse.

We were desperate to clean the car, van, do washing, mop the floor etc. The red dirt of the Kimberly and Pilbara is driving us all crazy. Clothes are dirty as soon as you put them on and don’t let me get started about dirty feet!!! 
Travel tip:  Unpowered camping is available at Dales campground ($18 for 4 of us), it has clean toilets but no showers but you can swim every day at nearby Fortesque Falls.  One section is set aside for campers with generators. You can pay for camping at either the Information Centre or with the camp hosts based at Dales. You can't book ahead. The other gorges (Weano, Hammersley) are an easy day trip from Dales.

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