The 1.3 million hectares of Karlamilyi National Park straddles the Rudall River, embracing desert dunes, spinifex grasslands, salt lakes and weathered plateaux and escarpments of sandstone and quartzite. Past ice age glaciers have abraded bedrock, striated and polished pavements and carved out valleys that remain today as features of the landscape.
The Little Sandy Desert is to the south-west, and the Great Sandy Desert to the north-east. There is a central belt of stony hills and undulating plains. The main vehicle access, known as the Telfer-Talwana Track, or the Kintyre track,crosses the park from north to south. Other tracks run east and west of the Rudall River Crossing but their condition is poor and driving them is not recommended.
The banks of the Rudall River are lined with tall stands of collibah, river gum and yulbah – the bats wing coral tree. Hardy acacias and hakeas occupy smaller watercourses, while paperbarks, bloodwoods and quandongs are in the valleys where there is sufficient ground water. Desert oaks may occure on sandplains, with spinifex and other grasses and small shrubs.
Rainfall is very erratic here, usually associated with cyclones and monsoonal activity between December and May. Permanent pools of the Rudall River are an oasis to 14 species of water birds. There are over 140 bird species recorded in the park with most observed near the river.
Reptiles are hardy arid land survivors and include Stimson’s python, the gwardar snake, numerous skinks and geckoes, dragon-lizards and goannas.. There are seven species of bat, marsupial mice, red kangaroos and rock wallabies. Most are nocturnal to avoid the heat of day, coming out at dusk till dawn. Feral animals you may see during the day include camels and donkeys.
Martu Aboriginal people continue their long association with this country. There are two communities within the park –Punmu and the Parnngurr. Both communities have limited shop and fuel facilities.
Punmu (08) 9176 9110
Parnngurr (Cotton Creek) (08) 9176 9009
Transit permits may be required for Aboriginal Lands Trust reserves around the national park. Please visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage Affairs website at www.dplh.wa.gov.au for information on entry permits
In the late 19th century the first expeditions by geologists, explorers and surveyors took place. Prospector Frank Hann named Rudall River after a surveyor he met in the area in 1896.
- Extreme heat can be experienced at Karlamilyi with temperatures often exceeding 40°C in summer. Only walk during the cooler times of the day.
- Carry adequate water. To avoid dehydration in summer, each person needs to drink a litre of water for every hour of walking. Apart form the two Aboriginal communities, there is no drinking water available in the Park.
- Avoid sunstroke and sunburn - wear sunscreen, long sleeves and a hat.
Bush camping at Karlamilyi
You can bush camp in certain locations.
There are no facilities such as toilets or water available.
Help minimise damage to the local vegetation by using your portable gas stove for cooking.
Minimize your impact by taking your rubbish with you. If left or buried, rubbish can be dug up and eaten by native animals so damaging their health and that of the camp.
Two manual water pumps are located at the north and south of the park boundary. You can use these in an emergency but should not be relied upon.
Accommodation is available in Newman (260km) and Marble Bar (420km).
Fuel and other supplies are at available at Newman and Marble Bar. Punmu and Parrngurr have limited fuel and other supplies.
Park roads can be substantially damaged or closed after heavy rain. Conditions can change rapidly. Seek local knowledge on road conditions before travelling.
The North/South Track through the park has long, deep wash outs. Travel at safe speed. Some sections are quite sandy, particularly crossing Rudall River.
Karlamilyi National Park is accessble by four-wheel-drive over rough and unmaintained roads. There are no facilities at the park. Visitors need to be self-sufficient and well prepared with adequate food, water, communication, medical supplies and mechanical equipment for desert travel. Visitors need to be confident and capable of navigation and driving in remote locations.
Access from Newman is via Walgun and Billinnooka along the Talawana Track to the park turnoff (approximatly 300km). Contact the Newman Visitor Centre (08) 9175 2888 for more information.
Access via Marble Bar is along the Ripon Hills Road, and Telfer Road to the northern park boundary.