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Karijini is one of Australia's largest national parks, and arguably one of the most spectacular.

Haunting in its rugged, red beauty and unbeatable for adventure, Karijini National Park is famous for its sheer gorges, spectacular waterfalls and cool swimming holes.

It's best accessed by joining a four-wheel-drive tour and there are a number of tour operators available, many taking visitors from directly from Perth up to Karijini and the surrounding region.

You can also fly to Exmouth, Karratha, Newman, Paraburdoo (near Tom Price) or Broome to join a tour or hire a vehicle and drive yourself there.

This itinerary begins in Karratha.


Duration: 6 days

Distance: 854 kilometres

Day 1: Karratha to Tom Price via Millstream Chichester National Park

The drive to Tom Price is six hours from Karratha.

But don't rush! The route takes you through the picturesque Millstream Chichester National Park, scattered with wildflowers from late July to October.

You should also take the opportunity to stop and explore the deep gorges, tree-lined rivers and hidden rockpools, including the focal point - Chinderwarriner Pool on the Fortescue River.

Nature lovers will enjoy the unusual Millstream palms and dragonflies near the waterways, and should linger until late afternoon to spot kangaroos and flying foxes.

Shady campsites at Deep Reach and Crossing Pool are a great option for an overnight stay, or continue to Tom Price for alternative accommodation.

Camping in the park is recommended and early-risers will often be rewarded with glimpses of local wildlife along the water's edge.

Overnight: Tom Price

Day 2: Tom Price to Karijini

From Tom Price, join a tour into Karijini, or head for the Karijini Visitor Centre on Banjima Drive.

The centre is fascinating in its design and the interpretive displays that communicate the region's history and cultural evolution.

Built from deliberately rusted steel to blend with the red earth, the facility has also been designed in the shape of a running goanna to symbolise movement from the past into the future. It really is a 'must see' attraction for any visitor.

Plunge next into the picturesque Hamersley Ranges of Karijini.

Walking can be challenging for those with below average fitness levels so take it easy.

But rest assured that you'll be well rewarded for your efforts with sweeping views and fern-fringed pools in which to enjoy a rejuvenating dip.

Knox and Red Gorges, Joffre Falls and Weano Gorge should all be included in today's itinerary, concluding at Oxer Lookout, where four gorges meet.

The view from here must be seen to be believed - particularly in the mid to late afternoon as the shadows catch the cracks among the cliff walls, and the red gorges almost seem to glow.

Even photographs don't do the scene justice because of the amazing depth and complexity of the formations.

Set up camp at the Savannah campsite near Weano, or move on to Dales Gorge campsite.

This is safe wilderness camping with basic facilities of pit toilets, gas barbecues and tables, and is fantastic for those who want a taste of no-risk bush camping.

As darkness descends, your eyes will be drawn to the stars which blaze in awesome glory from the clear night sky.

Overnight: Karijini

Day 3: Karijini

Take it a little easier today, exploring picturesque Dales Gorge at your leisure.

Follow the trek from Circular Pool to Fortescue Falls for a refreshing afternoon swim.

Camp at Dales Gorge tonight or drive back to Tom Price via Mount Bruce - Western Australia's second highest peak.

Adventurous walkers will want to climb to the top for magnificent vistas over the park, which provide an appreciation of the size of the outback and its sparse population.

Overnight: Karijini

Day 4: Karijini and Tom Price to Dampier

Drive back up through Millstream Chichester National Park, this time stopping to explore Python Pool and to stroll around the visitor centre - once a beautiful working homestead.

Then head onto Python Pool.

Before reaching Karratha, turn off towards the beachside town of Dampier.

Originally developed to service the iron and salt mining industries, this quaint country town is a coastal oasis.

Perched prettily on the shores of King Bay, palm trees fringe the beaches and the water is calm.

Enjoy a picnic or barbecue on the beach before settling in at a choice of hotels, caravan parks and campsites.

Overnight: Dampier

Day 5: Dampier

A boat trip to the Dampier Archipelago is at the top of today's agenda.

This collection of 42 uninhabited islands is a magnet for deep-sea fishing, reef diving and snorkelling expeditions.

Keep an eye out for turtles, birds, dolphins and dugongs - and watch out for whales between June and September.

Having experienced wilderness camping, now is your chance for the 'desert island' camping experience - permitted on most of the islands.

Select your island paradise and prepare for the unforgettable experience of secluded and absolute privacy.

Alternatively, enjoy a pleasant twilight cruise before returning to your choice of accommodation in town.

Overnight: Dampier

Day 6: Dampier to Karratha

Before leaving Dampier, explore the Burrup Peninsula, which extends from the town centre to the north-east.

There's an astonishing 10,000 Aboriginal rock engravings in the immediate area - nowhere else will you find so many in such a small area.

The peninsula is also home to the enormous north-west shelf gas projects, and a visit to the visitor centre is highly recommended.

The centre provides an interpretive history of mining and gas exploration in the region and offers a commanding view over the gas storage facilities.

Return to Karratha to complete the itinerary.

Overnight: Karratha

Allow a day or two for the drive back to Perth from Karratha, or return by air on one of the direct flights if you're strapped for time.

Highlights

Karratha
Karratha
Awe and ore can be found in equal measure in Karratha. Known for its iron ore operations, this is the gateway to the marine-life rich Dampier Archipelago, the world's most prolific prehistoric rock engraving site, Karijini's four billion year old adventure playground and Millstream's Chichester National Park.

Tom Price
Tom Price
Tom Price sits on the doorstep of one of Australia's most awe-inspiring adventure playgrounds - Karijini National Park.

Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park
Two billion years in the making, Karijini National Park is one of Western Australia's most spectacular natural attractions offering amazing hiking trails through ancient gorges.

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