If you plan a road trip on the west coast or in the north of Australia, don’t forget to add Karijini National Park to your itinerary. From waterfalls, canyons, and natural pools, to red earth and mountains, this oasis in the desert offers incredible sights. However, it is important to prepare your stay in Karijini. You definitely have to take into consideration the weather and carry enough drinking water and food, petrol and other things. In this article, you will find useful information about Karijini National Park and about how to prepare your trip.
General information about Karijini National Park
Karijini is located in the Hamersley Range and is the second largest park in Western Australia with an area of 6274 km². The park is located in north-western Australia, more than 1000 km from the capital, Perth.
The reliefs of this region are more than 2,500 million years old. There are three Aboriginal tribes: Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga.
The park offers spectacular landscapes, unique and unforgettable locations, natural swimming pools, and a variety of wildlife.
During your stay, you might see kangaroos, echidnas, geckos, wallaroos, bats, a variety of bird species, snakes, and spiders.
The vegetation is lush and all kinds of colourful flowers pop up in winter.
Directions to Karijini National Park
If you are coming from the West Coast, the park is located 620 km from Exmouth and 700 km from Carnarvon. From the north, it is 300 km from Port Hedland.
Karijini is a very remote place. The nearest town is Tom Price (3000 inhabitants), 75 km west. Be careful, this is the last place to refuel and shop before you head for the park.
If you come from Port Hedland, you don’t have to cross the park to go grocery shopping. 36 km north of the eastern entrance there is a campsite (powered or unpowered site, showers, toilets, kitchen area) as well as a petrol station and a shop. It’s quite expensive though.
The entrance fee for Karijini Park is 12 AUD per vehicle per day. However, if you stay overnight, you only pay for the first day.
Best travel time
The park is open year-round but can occasionally be closed due to climatic conditions (closed roads due to floods, cyclones, etc.).
It enjoys a tropical semi-arid climate. In fact, it’s almost always warm in Karijini: only winter nights are cool and it can freeze. During the day it is warm and sunny in winter (March – October), while in summer (November – February) it is very hot day and night. At times it gets very humid with heavy rains, thunderstorms, and the possibility of cyclones.
Avoid Karijini during the wet season from November to January. Any other time, the weather is nice. July is the coolest month. The weather is best from May to September, but this is also the most touristy season.
To have enough time to do a few of the hikes in Karijini, you should plan at least 3 days on site. Depending on the weather and your vehicle, 2 days might be enough.
The park has two paid entrances, one to the east and the other to the west.
On Banyjima Road, to the east of the park, is a visitor centre, where you get brochures, information, and souvenirs. If you are coming from the West, stop at the Tom Price Information Centre to get valuable information about Karijini.
There are two drinking water reservoirs in the park but you should not rely on them.
The main sights and trails in Karijini are mainly on the west and east side of the park. The main road is paved, but others aren’t.
You can either stay in the park or nearby.
In the park there are two campsites on the east side next to Circular Pool, Dales Gorge, Fern Pool, and Fortescue Falls. The main campsite is Dales Campground Karijini. There are large sites, dry toilets (handicapped disability-friendly), shade, and picnic tables. The second campsite “Dales Gorge Overflow Camping” is only open if the first one is full. This is a transition campsite where you can stay for 24 hours only. Camping in the park costs 10 AUD per person per night. You leave cash in a designated box at the entrance of the campsite.
On the west side of the park, you can stay at the Karijini Eco Retreat, if your budget allows it. This campsite has toilets, showers, drinking water, shade, tables, garbage bins, barbecues and a kitchenette. There’s something for everyone, from a simple, unpowered site for 20 AUD per person to a deluxe Glamping tent for over 300 AUD per night. You can find all the information on this website and book online at www.karijiniecoretreat.com.au
If you don’t want to pay for a campsite in the park, you will surely find a free spot on the side of the road near the two entrances. These locations are listed on the Wikicamp app (AUD 7.99).
The best spots and hikes
The “Hancock Gorge”, also called Spider Walk, is an atypical hike through canyons. Some parts of the trail require acrobatic talent: you have to climb the rocks of the gorge to get to a beautiful pool, the Kermits pool. But with a sense of adventure and good hiking shoes, you have got nothing to fear (it is not high). Fresh water guaranteed!
A short walk will take you to this big blue pond and waterfalls. If you look closely, you may be able to see a sun-bathing monitor.
A 10-minute walk from the Fortescue Waterfalls, this natural pool surrounded by lush vegetation invites to relax. There you will see different species of birds and maybe bats and lizards.
Handrail Pool and Weano Gorge
When you get to the bottom of the gorge, you walk through a landscape of red rocks. Depending on the season, you pass by several pools and particularly the large Handrail Pool.
Oxer Lookout & Junction Pool
This gorgeous view is worth a visit! You look at huge gorges and a natural pool, which can be virtually empty depending on the season.
Mount Bruce or Punurrunha (name of the indigenous people) is the second highest mountain in Western Australia, with a height of 1,235 meters. It is located in Karijini National Park, just a few miles from the main road that runs through the park from east to west.
The 9km hike (up and down the mountain) is challenging but worth the trip. It takes about 5 hours.
The first part is pretty easy and not steep. On the right, you see the working Marandoo Iron Mine. On the left side, you see the red soil and dense vegetation of the hilly landscape.
The second part of the hike is more difficult due to the considerable incline. In some places you have to climb rocks. The steepest passage has a rope to hold on to. Once at the top, enjoy your reward: a 360-degree view of the surroundings!
[information]Tips for hiking Mount Bruce
At very high temperatures, it is strongly recommended to hike at sunrise (5-6 o’clock depending on the season). At this time of day, you are in the shade for most part of the hike and you can watch the sunrise behind the mountain. Take a lot of water and food. There is no water holes along the way. Of course, wear good hiking boots. If you want to enjoy this beautiful hike in the best possible way, wear a fly net!
Travel Tips [icon style = “icon-lightbulb” size = “small” borders = “no”][/information]
PRACTICAL INFORMATION[toggles title = “Entrance Fees” icon = “icon-money”] Park: 12 AUD per day and per vehicle. [/toggles] [toggles title = “Park Map as PDF” icon = “icon-map-marker”] – Hiking Trails
– Park brochure as PDF [/toggles] [toggles title = “Rent a campervan or 4×4” icon = “icon-truck”] Rent a car in Perth, Broome or Darwin. At MotorhomeRepublic you can compare offers [/toggles] [toggles title = “Climate” icon = “icon-cloud”] Protect yourself from the heat, the sun … and the flies: hat, long sleeves, and a fly net.
In bad weather, there can be heavy rains, thunderstorms or cyclones in Karijini. Check the weather forecast before embarking on your adventure. [/toggles][toggles title = “Tips for the Trip” icon = “icon-lightbulb”]Take enough drinking water for the number of people and the duration of the trip.
Get enough petrol for the park, and a little more to be safe. It is best to refill one or two jerrycans in a big city before hitting the road.
The roads are sometimes very bad and almost impossible to cross without 4×4, depending on the weather conditions. Inform yourself about the condition of the roads before you go.
There is practically no mobile network in the park. Get a hiking map and various brochures at the visitors centre.
Enjoy and respect the beauty of Karijini. Take your rubbish with you, as there are only a few garbage cans in the park! [/toggles][toggles title = “Contact” icon = “icon-phone”] Phone: +61 (0) 8 9189 8121
Written by Laurene Halgrin