Working our way steadily up the Western Australia coast two things became readily apparent. First, there is, at this time of the year, basically a complete mass migration to the north-west coast of WA involving travellers from all over; Western Australians, Australians from the east, and – in very significant numbers- travellers from abroad, especially young European working holiday makers. Secondly, after the whale shark experience in Exmouth, everyone ( and I mean everyone) was heading to Karijini National Park. Following a pit stop at the very impressive Bullara Station ( a working station/ranch ), Karijini was top of our list as well.

Our route this past week.

Bullara gives travellers a taste of life on an Australian outback “station” ( North Americans would consider it a big ranch ) – complete with all the usual wildlife, farm stock ( principally cattle ), amazing “damper” and some of the best hot scones ( replete with strawberry jam and cream ) we’ve tasted in a long time. Far from any city lights it was an excellent place to star-gaze as well.

A warm welcome on arrival at Bullara, however the camp host was a bit shocked to see the steering wheel on the “wrong” side !
Damper maker and local legend, “John” from the UK.
Camp showers – rustic, but hot and strong !

In addition to hordes of travellers descending on Karijini, the road is also shared with specialized heavy transport vehicles which carry very large pieces of mining equipment- some as much as 7.5 metres wide ( meaning it effectively blocks both sides of a two-lane road). Passing them is a challenge and we would soon be put to the test as we encountered just one such vehicle on the way into Tom Price. Our two way radio ( hitherto considered no more than a souvenir ) suddenly became indispensable as we communicated with the pilot car as to when and how to safely overtake. Needless to say overtaking a 7.5 metre-wide vehicle leaves precious little margin for error – see the next two video clips Lois captured as we made the maneuver:

Approaching a 7.5m wide “oversize” on a bridge.
The passing maneuver – white knuckles all the way !

Karijini is located just east of Tom Price. On the advice of the many, many people who counselled us about this park we set aside 4 days (3 nights ) with a plan to tackle all its major hikes and found we had time to do them all- certainly all the ones that we wanted to do. Some were tough, and tiring, but absolutely worth the challenge – it lived up to ( probably even exceeded in some areas ) the very lofty expectations we’d developed in the preceding weeks. It was, simply awesome ! I’ll say no more but leave our pictures and videos to tell the story:

Tom Price camping sunset.

Caught up with Grant and Sue at Dale’s Gorge – he, an Aussie, she a Canadian, together 35 years. A very similar story to our own. Grant had just completed the holy grail of Australian outback tracks, the Canning Stock Route. Fellow campers were in awe…..!
Picked up this delightful little “souvenir” on the road into Karijini. No one to do a repair in Tom Price, so I bought a kit and tackled it myself.
Quickly repaired with a do it yourself kit from the Autopro store ! No one else in town would touch it. So far it’s holding !
Swimming in the pool beneath Fortescue Falls, Dale’s Gorge, Karijini NP. No croc’s this far south.
Dale’s Gorge.
Lois, last steps out of Dales Gorge.
Dale’s Gorge, Karijini NP.
Dale’s Gorge.
Fortescue Falls, Karijini NP.
Joffre Falls, Karijini NP. No “falls” as such in the dry season, but a stunning circular visual.
Success at the end of a hike. Joffre.
Bottom of Joffre Falls.
Corrugated roads, Karijini NP.
Some parts of the park were not paved – the gravel roads were in very rough shape with tough, deep corrugations. Needed to reduce tire pressure well below manufacturer specs, hence the “malfunction” warnings.
Karijini NP.
Walking to Handrail Pool, Weano Gorge, Karijini NP.
Handrail Pool, Karijini NP.
Weano Gorge, Karijini NP.
First water obstacle on the way to Kermit’s Pool, Hancock Gorge, Karijini NP.
Narrow waterfall, deep in the gorge..
Narrow section !
Kermit’s Pool at the end of Hancock Gorge.
Camped at “Buddha’s Retreat” just before, Hammersley Gorge. The lighting just begged for a photo !
The geological history of Hammersley Gorge, Karijini NP.
Hammersley Gorge, Karijini NP.
Hammersley Gorge.
Hammersley Gorge.
Trying to dodge severe corrugations on the far side of the road, leaving Hancock Gorge.

Undoubtedly the best national park we have seen so far, we felt Karijini was truly impressive. The problem now – how do you keep raising the bar ? While we might not be able to raise the bar any further as far as national parks go, we just caught wind of a rather outstanding award bestowed upon a certain beach I was raving about last month when we visited Esperance ( in WA’s south west ) – Lucky Bay. Just named the most beautiful beach in the world. Can’t beat that !

Readers might recall me raving about the pristine beauty of Lucky Bay ( Esperance ) a few weeks back. Just voted the most beautiful beach in the world !