When you’ve been traveling for as long as we have you think you’ve seen it all; mountains, valleys, beaches, escarpments, small towns, and cities all now just come in varying shades.
The jaded, or perhaps just the well-traveled, perspective.
But even after all these years on the road, I was still blown away by Karijini National Park. The vast wilderness, incredible rock-red formations, and deep, craggy gorges.
Not to mention the cascading waterfalls and indigenous wildlife you encounter there, from red kangaroos, echidnas, rock wallabies, and thousands of species of bird. If you’re a nature lover, no matter how much you’ve seen in your life, you’re going to fall in love with Karijini.
And while you may think it’s possible to see in a day, you may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of things to do in Karijini National Park that could keep you busy for up to a week.
Surprised? Read on to check out the top attractions in Karijini National Park!
How many days do you need at Karijini National Park?
Many people visit Karijini National Park in three days. This is the bare minimum you need to see the highlights and really get a feel for the park.
We shut off from the outside world, intending to stay three nights. We stayed for five, exploring every gorge and waterfall and swimming hole.
We tackled all the easy and hard walks, scrambling over rocks, inching ourselves over rock ledges, and spider-walking between rock walls.
If you really want to experience the park in all its magnitude and glory, you will want to stay for five days.
Is Karijini worth visiting?
When we started our road trip last year, I was taken aback by the number of people who said Karijini National Park was their favourite place in Australia. The park is located in the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Despite being the second largest national park in Western Australia, not many people have heard of it until they visit the region. We certainly hadn’t thought it was anything special until we heard the hype.
I had to Google to see where this place was that was preferred over much-lauded favourites such as The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, and the Great Ocean Road.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” my sister told me. “It’s just so beautiful. The colours of rock are just amazing.”
Circular Pool, Dales Gorge
Karijini became the thing that most excited me about this trip; because it was the unknown. The thing that would blow apart the perception that I’d already seen it all. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what treasures lay in store for us.
From our experience, everyone who visits has an incredible time and is amazed by the landscape and nature. No one leaves disappointed, so yes, it’s absolutely worth visiting!
Things to Do in Karijini National Park
If you’re thinking Karijini sounds awesome and you’d like to add a visit to your Western Australia iterinary, then read on to learn about the best attractions in Karijini National Park!
1. Hamersley Gorge
Hamersley Gorge was one of our favourite spots in Karijini, located on the northwest side of Karijini National Park.
It’s famous for its field of gorges that have swirls of rock that appear to be sweeping down through the gorge.
At the bottom of the gorge, you’ll find the lush, turquoise Spa Pool, with waterfalls tumbling over the edge of the rock and filling the pools. It’s a marvel to witness.
Hamersley Gorge is an important area in the park. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is ‘Karijini’, which is where the national park gets its name.
2. Weano Gorge
One of the most popular things to do at Weano Gorge is to go swimming in Handrail Pool. Getting to this pool is an experience in itself, let alone being able to swim in the turquoise waters at the end.
To get to the pool you must wade through a deep section of water and scramble over boulders, before squeezing through a narrow path in the gorge.
This path takes you to the top of the waterfall, where you’ll see a handrail leading down to the pool (use this to help you get down there safely).
Once you’re there, it will all be worth it!
3. Knox Gorge
Knox Gorge is the gorge that gives Karijini its reputation as being home to some of the best rock formations in Australia.
Like most gorges in the park, accessing the refreshing pool to swim in requires a bit of effort. You’ll need to scramble through the gorge, balancing on precarious edges while clinging to the rock walls.
It’s completely worth it to just see these magnificent rock cliffs that are over 2.5 billion years old!
Be sure to trek up to Knox Gorge lookout for incredible views of the Knox Gorge and Wittenoom Gorge.
4. Hancock Gorge
Hancock Gorge Spider Walk is a Class 5 hike
If you’ve come to Karijini National Park looking for adventure, then you will find it on the iconic Spider Walk at Hancock Gorge.
The trail is not so much a hike or easy walking path, but a scramble over rocks that require all four limbs to keep you from plunging into the water below. Don’t believe me? See this picture for proof!
The aptly named spider walk leads to the equally aptly named Kermit’s Pool, which is a light green colour.
Not many people tackle the class 5 hikes, so if you plan your visit right, you may enjoy this pool all to yourself!
5. Dales Gorge (Fern Pool & Fortescue Falls)
On our first walk through Dales Gorge, I said to Craig. “This place reminds we so much of Utah. The colours in the rocks, the towering gorge cliffs, the refreshing waterholes and challenging walks. It was God’s artist studio Down Under.”
Located on the Eastern side of Karijini National Park, Dales Gorge is one of the most popular attractions in Karijini. It’s famous for its stunning, spring-fed Fern Pool and magnificent Fortescue Falls.
This area is significant to the local aboriginal people, so be sure to be respectful when you visit and pick up your rubbish.
One of the top things to do in Karijini National Park is to swim in one of the many pools in its gorges.
I would say that Fern Pool is the easiest one to get to, so if you’re travelling with kids and want somewhere easy to swim – this is it.
The pools are located 300 meters away from the Fortescue Falls car park. Nearby Dales Campground is a great place to stop for the night.
6. Kalamina Gorge
Kalamina Gorge is somewhat of an underrated gorge in the National Park. It’s stunningly beautiful, and yet doesn’t get the hype as the other gorges because you don’t need to scramble through rock cliffs to access it.
Still, it’s worth adding to any itinerary, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Karijini National Park with kids since it’s only a five-minute walk down to the pool.
The pool is met with draping ferns and a cascading waterfall.
If you want to up the adventure level, you can walk to Rock Arch Pool by a longer and more difficult walk – just follow the trail into Kalamina Gorge and you’ll meander downstream, past rock pools and through the center of the iconic rock walls.
7. Joffre Gorge
Another popular hike in Karijini is the hike to Joffre Gorge, which takes you to an observation platform that overlooks the gorge, before taking you to the top of the falls.
Joffre Gorge | Credit: Tourism Western Australia
It’s worth taking the steep, moderately challenging route down into the gorge to see the beautiful Joffre Falls waterfall plummet into the pool below.
The gorge is known as a natural amphitheatre, because of its circular rock formation.
8. Climb Mount Bruce (Punurrunha)
Mount Bruce | Credit: Greg Snell
If you really want an adventure, then you might want to climb Mount Bruce, the second-highest peak in Western Australia.
The mountain is 1,234 meters above sea level and can be seen from as far as Tom Price. From the summit, you get incredible views of the National Park and all its gorges.
The hike is challenging, so be sure to allow plenty of time to tackle the 10 km trail. Most people complete the hike within 4-6 hours, but allow for a full day as you’ll need to take many breaks and you’ll want to stop for photo ops too.
9. Learn About The Traditional Owners at Karijini Visitor Centre
The first point of call on any trip to Karijini National Park should be the visitor centre, where you can pick up maps, and camping information and generally learn about the history of the park through the aboriginal workers who work here and enjoy sharing information about their native land.
The design of the centre is supposed to represent a goanna moving through the country and a nod towards the parks traditional owners, the Banjima, Kurrama, and Innawonga people.
The tail of the building represents the history of the Banjima People, while the head is said to represent the future. The centre represents Aboriginal Law.
10. Oxer lookouts and Junction Pool
If you’re looking for fantastic viewpoints, head to either Junction Pool lookout or the Oxer lookouts which are nestled at the junction of four of the park’s most famous gorges; Weano, Red, Hancock, and Joffre.
The two lookouts can be accessed by an 800-meter walk from the Weano recreation area.
The Oxer Lookout is considered one of the most beautiful views in Western Aus, if not the whole of Australia. Its particularly amazing at sunset!
FAQs About Visiting Karijini National Park
Here is what people usually ask us about visiting Karijini National Park…
Do you need a 4×4 to visit Karijini National Park?
No, you don’t need a 4×4. You can access most places in a standard vehicle.
What is the best time to visit Karijini?
The best time to visit is from the late autumn until early spring. April – October is considered the peak season in the park and is when it’s most busy.
Where is good to stay in Karijini National Park?
Most people choose to camp when staying at Karijini National Park. There are several campsites, which are large, well-maintained with clean bathrooms, and are signposted across the park. For a more luxurious stay, consider Karijini Eco Retreat, where you can choose to stay in a tent or in one of their cabins.
What are the entrance fees for Karijini National Park?
The park charges a fee of $15.00 per vehicle, per day.
Camping in Karijini National Park
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Karijini National Park
I used to think America was so amazing because it was a country of such diverse landscapes. This trip is revealing to me that Australia is on equal footing. It’s not just all about beaches – we have it all. And Karijini is a testament to how deep this ancient mysticism and beauty of our land runs.
Each step was a journey and it was exquisite.
We shared it with friends, we made beautiful memories. It surprised and delighted me.
I am not yet ready to hang up my travel boots because I have not seen it all and there are far too many corners of the globe with surprises in store for us.
We’ve only seen a smidgen of Western Australia and we are already smitten. The Kimberley region melts my heart, Broome entraps my soul, and now Karijini re-energizes my spirit. Only a few footsteps in and I’m won over.
You have got to see this incredible state!
Have you been to Karijini National Park? Would you love to go now? Lets us know in the comments!