Covering 627,422 hectares just north of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Hamersley Range, Karijini National Park is Western Australia’s second largest national park.
Its climate can best be described as tropical semi-desert. A highly variable, mainly summer rainfall of 250–350 mm, often associated with thunderstorms and cyclones, is accompanied by temperatures frequently topping 40 degrees Celsius. The ideal times to visit the park are late autumn, winter and early spring. Winter days are warm and clear, but nights are cold and sometimes frosty.
Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. The high plateau is dissected by breathtaking gorges, and stony, tree-lined watercourses wind their way over the dusty plain. Erosion has slowly carved this landscape out of rocks that are over 2,500 million years old. There are many beautiful gorges and sites to visit in Karijini National Park, but be sure to include Dales Gorge, Fortescue Falls, Weano Gorge and Oxers Lookout.
The Karijini Visitor Centre is just off Banjima Drive and is open in season from 9am to 4pm daily. It is closed from early December to early February each year.
The camping area at Dales is one of two locations in the park where you can stay overnight. It is a large campground with picnic tables and gas barbecues at the nearby picnic area and is a good base from which to explore the park. Campsites are in very high demand from June to September. During this period a two-night maximum stay overflow camping area is in operation. Bookings are essential for Dales and the overflow.
Check availability & book
The only other location in the park where camping is permitted is the privately owned and operated Karijini Eco Retreat.
The park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. Evidence of their early occupation dates back more than 20,000 years. During that period, Aboriginal land management practices, such as 'fire stick farming', resulted in a diversity of vegetation types and stages of succession that helped determine the nature of the plants and animals found in the park today.
Flora and fauna
Wildflowers vary with the seasons. In the cooler months the land is covered with yellow-flowering cassias and wattles, northern bluebells and purple mulla-mullas. After rain many plants bloom profusely.
Karijini is home to a variety of birds, red kangaroos and euros, rock-wallabies, echidnas and several bat species. Geckos, goannas, dragons, legless lizards, pythons and other snakes are abundant.
Look for large, striking termite mounds scattered throughout the hummock grasslands. Look out also for mounds of pebbles built by the Western Pebble-mound mouse but please do not disturb them.
There is assisted wheelchair access to Junction Pool Lookout, Circular Pool Lookout and the Weano Recreation Area. Independent wheelchair access is available at the Karijini Visitor Centre and the Dales Recreation Area.
Blue asbestos is present in Yampire and Wittenoom Gorges. Asbestos dust may cause cancer if inhaled.
Gorges can be dangerous
Stay back from cliff edges – they are about 100 metres high, often with loose rocks near the edge.
Flash floods can occur – do not enter gorges if there is rain in the area. If it starts raining when you are in a gorge, leave immediately.
Even though inland waterways look inviting, especially when the surface is calm, they pose many hidden dangers. Know the risks and how to swim safely.
Deep, cold water
The water in gorge pools can be extremely cold, especially between April and September; hypothermia can occur. Do not dive or jump into water.
During summer, temperatures frequently top 40 degrees Celcius. Carry plenty of water at all times.
Dingoes are common around the Dales campground. They may scavenge for food and can be aggressive. Do not feed dingoes, supervise children at all times, walk in groups and store food in your vehicle.
Much of the southern half of the park is inaccessible. Visitors concentrate on the spectacular gorges in the north, with their rock pools, waterfalls and unique wildlife.
You can enter Karijini National Park from Tom Price, Roebourne, Port Hedland or Newman.
Be aware that distances travelled can add up quickly when touring this park. The nearest fuel is over 80 km from Dales Campground at Munjina Roadhouse or Tom Price and around 70 km from the Karijini Eco Retreat to Tom Price. A trip from Dales to Weano via the shortest route is about 112km return. Plan your visit carefully.