Kennedy Range is known as ‘Mundatharrda’ to the local Inggarda Aboriginal language group. Kennedy Range is a vast elevated north-south oriented sandstone plateau between 12 and 25km wide and about 75km long. The rocks that comprise the range were originally deposited beneath the sea. Over time they were compressed to form sandstone, then faulted, uplifted and tilted towards the west. Subsequent erosion has isolated the plateau 80m above the surrounding plain. The vegetation of the plain is acacia shrubland (mostly mulga), which shades an abundance of seasonal understory of flowering annuals (including everlastings).
Looking to the Range
The eastern side cliffs comprise steep rubble slopes. Occasionally big blocks tumble part way down the slope or all the way to the plain below. In places, fossilised marine creatures are exposed, revealing the sedimentary origins of the rocks.
Rainfall is highly variable here and usually associated with tropical cyclones to the north-west between January and May. Cyclonic rainfall is often intense and the resulting surface water runoff from the steep slopes has cut into the escarpment – up to a kilometre in places.
Across the Range
On top of the range red sand dunes support mixed shrubland over spinifex grassland. These dunes formed 20,000 years ago from the weathering of a much older underlying dune field.
The western side of the range is lower, less steep and more extensively dissected than the east. Stony and sandy alluvial plains extend from the base of the range. To the south-west is a network-like pattern of dunes with grasslands. The central-west is an area of low plateaux, mesas and buttes.
On the western side, spring water trickles from the base of the range. The springs are ‘oases’ for wildlife – dependent on these life giving sites when drought prevails. The springs are important sites for Aboriginal traditional owners and were once the lifeblood for pastoralism when other sources of water dried up.
Your safety – while at Kennedy Range
The risks from exposure and dehydration are significant in this area. During the hotter months (at least December – March) these risks are extreme. Temperatures often exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
- Walk in groups of three or more – in an emergency one might need to wait with the injured person while someone goes for help;
- Tell a trusted and responsible person of your plans and provide sufficient detail to them so they can get help if required;
- Each person needs to carry and drink 3 to 4 litres of water per day of walking;
- Carefully review your daily drinking water needs. Carry cool water if possible;
- There is no drinking water in the park. Extra water may be needed if walking in the hotter months;
- Plan your walk for the most suitable season and/or daily weather conditions;
- Wear a broad brimmed hat, sunscreen and a loose long sleeved shirt for protection from the sun;
- Take regular breaks when walking;
- Wear sturdy footwear and follow the trail markers; and
- Walk during the cooler parts of the day – there will also be more wildlife about during this time.
Walk trails are usually natural unmodified surfaces. Beware of:
- undercut cliff edges; and
- loose rocks and unstable surfaces.
There are six walk trials – Temple Gorge, Honeycomb Gorge, Drapers Gorge, the Escarpment Trail (leading to the top of the range), the Escarpment Base Trail, and Sunrise View.
Camping at Kennedy Range
Temple Gorge campground is a bush campsite. Camping fees apply. Toilets are provided but there is no water available. To assist visitors, Parks and Wildlife Campground Hosts are usually based at the campground from May to September.
There is a ‘communal’ fireplace at the Temple Gorge campground. To protect wildlife habitat and the ecology of the national park, please collect wood before getting to the park. Collecting wood in the park is not permitted and personal campfires are strongly discouraged.
Accommodation is available at Gascoyne Junction (Junction Pub and Tourist Park) and at the Mount Augustus Tourist Park.
Fuel supplies are at Gascoyne Junction and at the Mount Augustus Tourist Park. Gascoyne Junction to Mt Augustus is 305km (via the Ullawarra Rd) and 288km (via the Carnarvon-Mullewa/Cobra Dairy Creek Rd).
Roads in the inland Gascoyne are mostly unsealed but usually suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles. Roads can be substantially damaged and/or closed after rainfall. Seek local shire information about road conditions.
Access to the western side of the park via the Gascoyne River is recommended only to those with a high-clearance/capacity four-wheel-drive vehicle. There are no marked walk trails and the track is rough. The Gascoyne River crossing is about 200m of soft sand. Make sure you are well informed and well equipped before considering this track. There is one information shelter located on the southern side of the Gascoyne River and one located about 35km north of the Gascoyne River (on the track entering from the west). Roads may be closed after rainfall.
Flights over Kennedy Range are available on request through visitor centres at Carnarvon and Denham. Seasonal day trips are available from Carnarvon. Search for Kennedy Range tours online for other opportunities or see www.australiasgoldenoutback.com for more information.
Getting to Kennedy Range
The Temple Gorge campground at Kennedy Range National Park is about 62km north of Gascoyne Junction. Gascoyne Junction is 172km east of Carnarvon – which is a sealed road. Carnarvon is about 900km from Perth. Be aware that there are long distances between settlements, supplies and services – this is outback Australia. Drive to the road conditions and obey road closures and speed limits.