When Jan and Morin began ‘The Karijini Discovery Trip’ they had visions of being pioneers discovering new tracks in this ancient landscape – what they experienced exceeded their expectations. “Nature had created its very own playground for us to enjoy, including a natural waterslide. We were soon splashing and floating around in the most incredible rock pools and waterholes.”
For years, my girlfriend Morin and I have talked about finding out what the opposite side of the world might look like. We love exploring and discovering new things, and we wanted to find out just how different Western Australia might be from our home in Germany. Secretly I think we wondered whether the grass might be greener on the other side.
We chose a trip which seemed to be the epitome of adventure – from the beautiful Pilbara coast to the rugged outback gorges of Karijini National Park, the more remote and extraordinary the better. We had visions of being pioneers discovering new tracks and the amazing thing was how close we were to our dreams.
Day 1 // From the coast, the dusty road inland takes you past rocky flat lands and plains – and instantly you know you are in for an adventure. What surprised us was how colourful everything was. The landscape was dry, but there was greenery everywhere.
Our 4WD was every bit as eager to eat up the kilometres as we were. From the roadhouse at Nanutarra, we bought pies and trinkets. Things to place on the dashboard to remind us of our trip.
Later that day we arrived in the town of Tom Price – an outback town that is the highest above sea level in all WA. The locals call it Top Town. From here we would enter Karijini – where the rocks are so old, it makes your brain hurt trying to fathom out just how long they’ve been here.
Day 2 // The Pilbara landscape changes colour with the changing light. At dawn, the rocks seem to warm up with the sun. Our first day in the park saw us put on a couple of wetsuits and carry tyre tubes down steep rocky paths and into some spectacular gorges.
We felt a bit strange walking around in these suits in the remote outback, but soon the reason for our outfits became clear. Nature had created its very own playground for us to enjoy, including a natural waterslide. We were soon splashing and floating around in the most incredible rock pools and waterholes.
As we paddled along, the rocks above towered high into the sky, silhouetted against the bright sun. We felt we were a million miles from anywhere.
Though the day was spent abseiling, tubing, climbing, our efforts were more than rewarded with the enjoyment it gave us. It was one of the best days either of us had ever had.
Day 3 // The next day we visited Dales Gorge, site of the wonderful Fortescue Falls. The water heats up as it cascades down the ancient rocks – making it beautifully warm to swim in the pool below.
Everything is so peaceful and removed from the day to day grind of the city, time simply stands still here. You get a very real sense that what you see today is very much what people have seen for billions of years. You feel humbled to be a part of it.
Day 4 // The next day, we returned to the desert plains, only to discover in its midst, the oasis of Millstream-Chichester National Park. Here, out of nowhere, there is sudden lush greenery, ponds with water lilies – something like the Garden of Eden in the middle of a desert landscape.
Day 5 // As we headed back to the coast around the Dampier Peninsula, at Karratha we crossed the railway tracks and headed sort of homeward bound, our road trip coming to an all too soon end.
We had come with expectations of wilderness and remoteness. What had surprised us was the ancient natural beauty of the outback. In its way, it had a romance about it that brought us even closer together.