Diving into Paradise – Swimming in Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia.

Have you ever arrived at a place and thought, ‘This is it! I have died and gone to Heaven’?

Or you have felt like you have stepped into a television ad for sparkling mineral water or underarm deodorant?

Just those feelings overwhelmed me as I dived into the calm, cool waters of Fern Pool in Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park.

As I surfaced and floated on my back, it dawned on me for the 500-millionth time that life was pretty damn good!

Looking down into Dales Gorge at Karijini National Park, WA
Looking down into Dales Gorge at Karijini National Park, WA

For the uninitiated, Dales Gorge is located approximately 1 366km North East of Perth, Western Australia. We had spent the previous 20 hours ‘origamied’ into a minibus to get there and by that stage of the trip, my sense of humour and positivity was definitely starting to wane.

If you don’t believe Australia is a big place, I recommend you sit in a minibus for the best part of 20 hours staring out the window (I am unable to read in moving vehicles) at endless rocks and scrub AND realise you have not yet travelled even half way up Western Australia.

Anyway, enough of the negativity, back to the deliciousness of Dales Gorge…

Pulling up in the busy carpark at Dales Gorge, it is yet more red rock and scrub as far as the eye can see. It is only when you get to the edge of the gorge itself that the most astounding beauty is revealed. Peering deep down, it’s thick with tall green trees, waterfalls and people frolicking in rock pools.

Let me at it!

A King Brown snake at Karijini National Park, WA
A King Brown snake makes its getaway

Working your way down the main stairway, Fern Pool is only a short, five-minute walk along the floor of the Gorge. Excitement builds as you hop from rock to rock, avoiding any snakes happily sunning themselves, and it is a joy to glimpse the Pool as you make your way around and under craggy cliffs. Yes, it is a bit clichéd, but it is a true oasis in amongst all the harshness.

Diving off the small deck and into the refreshing water, I felt 20 hours of minibus bumps and rattles instantly rinsed away. I could not believe how good it felt to be in the water and surrounded by such interrupted beauty. The pool was popular with families and small children. It wasn’t crowded though and you could swim to your own private corner to avoid other people. Or sit under the small waterfall and be pummelled into relaxed and refreshed submission. Or just float on your back and stare up at the brilliant blue sky, white trunk eucalypts overhanging the pool and ever-present red, red rocks.


Fortescue Falls is another glorious swimming experience. It is a little harder to access with a very steep rock shelf to clamber down, but it is definitely worth the effort. Again, the water welcomed and soothed away any remaining frayed nerves and again, I couldn’t shake that sparking-mineral-water advertisement feeling. Where are the cameras and film crew?

This pool features a large cascading waterfall and this time I imagined I was sitting in some luxurious garden landscaping project. Nature has got it so right and obviously provides so much inspiration to what we build and how we live.

Walking around the rim of Dales Gorge at Karijini National Park, WA
Walking around the rim of Dales Gorge

For those not into swimming, it is possible to bush walk along the length of the Gorge floor/base. Unfortunately, when we visited sections of this path and the Circular Pool were closed due to a rock fall. An equally beautiful alternative is to take the path (2km or 1.5hrs return) that edges the Gorge for stunning views up and down the length of the Gorge and out over the surrounding countryside.

If you decide to visit Dales Gorge, here are a few tips:

  • Footwear: hiking boots are not required. Instead, wear those Keen/Teva-type sandals as they have grip and yet handle the water.
  • Fitness: anyone can enjoy Dales Gorge, but be prepared for a long staircase down into the Gorge. It is really solid and well-built, just steep.
  • Safety: Be careful of slippery rocks, especially accessing the pool at Fortescue Falls. Take your time and step carefully. Also, beware of snakes! Apparently King Brown snakes are active 24/7 x 365 days. A few people spotted one on the way to Fern Pool. They are not a problem if you give them the respect they deserve and plenty of room to escape.
  • Facilities: There are no facilities of any sort in the bottom of the Gorge. Composting toilets, picnic tables and a little shade is available in the carpark.

Dales Gorge was just what we needed after a rather stressful and uncomfortable start to our Western Australian adventure. It washed away every ounce of negativity and opened our eyes to the astounding beauty of Down Under.

Life is so good.

Fern Pool at Karijini National Park, WA
Fern Pool

When did you die and go to Heaven?

The Basics

What: Instead of hiking to Everest Base Camp, we cut our Covid19-losses and redeemed our travel credit on a 10-day tour to Karijini National Park and Ningaloo Reef. We travelled with Inspiration Outdoors and can recommend them highly.

Where: Dales Gorge is only one feature of Karijini National Park. I will be sharing more of this stunning outback destination over the next couple of months.

When: Even in the middle of Autumn the days were very hot – perfect for swimming. I would avoid this part of Australia in all but the cooler months.

Why: For a slice of the most breathtaking landscape, rich Indigenous history, vivid colours and endless space.

How: There is no public transport in this part of Australia. A 4WD is not necessary to drive here, but take it slow on the long, dusty and very corrugated roads.

Who: I realise it is not possible for everyone to travel or to travel this remotely, but EVERYONE should visit Karijini National Park once in their lifetime.

Related Posts: For a completely difference slice of Outback Australia, get out to Silverton in Far West NSW.

Related Blogs: For a good overall description of Karijini National Park, check out what Aaron thinks of the place.

Read About It: For a nice read set in remote Western Australia, grab a copy of Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres. Animal lovers will love this one and it was also made into a very popular movie. Go straight to Book Depository.

Fern Pool at Karijini National Park, WAFern Pool at Karijini National Park, WA
Fern Pool

#karijini #travelinspo #westernaustralia #karijininationalpark #shortwalks #DalesGorge  #dayswalks #swimmingholes #outbackaustralia #indigenoushistory.

55 thoughts on “Diving into Paradise – Swimming in Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia.

  1. Katie Askegaard June 9, 2021 / 12:29 pm

    Look absolutely stunning!!! My partner and I have been going back in forth about doing a van trip in WA, but the long stretches of nothingness are a bit daunting. Spots like this certainly make it look worthwhile!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:29 pm

      It would be a serious commitment to drive all that way, but if you don’t mind a loooooong road trip, then go for it! Karijini National Park is only one gem in WA.


  2. wetanddustyroads June 9, 2021 / 5:27 pm

    These places are indeed heaven … I think it is because it’s so unexpected in a harsh and dry part of the world (we’ve experienced the same here in the dry semi-desert areas of South Africa).
    Lovely photo’s … maybe the camera guys were there and you just enjoyed it so much, you’ve totally missed them, because this place is definitely ad material 😉.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:33 pm

      Yes, there are so many similarities between RSA and Aus – both climate and environment. It is just a shame you guys are only slightly better than us at cricket and rugby! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • wetanddustyroads June 12, 2021 / 3:44 pm

        I’ve heard from friends of us, who visited Australia, that sometimes it felt as if they were right back in RSA – such similarities. Haha 😁 … it’s been so long that our sports teams could play international, I think you just might give us a go now!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:56 pm

          The cricketers seem to still be playing and traveling, but everyone else has gone to ground. Part me says that it is only right that if we aren’t allowed to travel, neither are sportspeople…unless you are an Olympian!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Heyjude June 9, 2021 / 6:35 pm

    This reminds me a lot of my Africa camping trip, days of dusty travel rewarded by something amazing. But the place that filled me with awe is Yosemite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:36 pm

      I haven’t been to Yosemite yet, but the photos I have seen are just glorious. There are so many beautiful places in the USA and it is such a big place, I am not sure how you would get to see them all. And WHEN, is the big question.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heyjude June 12, 2021 / 9:51 pm

        I doubt you can see everything and we won’t be back in the US, but we have good memories of the amazing places we have seen. Although I may persuade my daughter to take a road trip with me once things have calmed down.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure June 13, 2021 / 8:04 am

          I’m hearin’ you. We are all anxious to get traveling again, but safety is more important than itchy feet at the moment.


  4. Toonsarah June 10, 2021 / 12:46 am

    That pool looks so refreshing among the deep red rocks, and your description of floating on your back there certainly makes it sounds as enticing as it looks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:41 pm

      Thanks. Sometimes it is hard to capture the beauty of place and you have to be there yourself to truly understand. Hopefully the photos provide a little insight.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Toonsarah June 12, 2021 / 7:42 pm

        I’m sure it’s not the same as being there but the photos certainly give a good sense of how beautiful it must be in real life. However they can’t replicate the sensation of cool water on a hot day 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  5. travelling_han June 10, 2021 / 1:56 am

    It looks absolutely beautiful – I would love to float in that pool of blue water 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Monkey's Tale June 10, 2021 / 2:12 am

    What a beautiful gorge. The red rocks are such a vibrant colour. But another snake!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Suzanne June 10, 2021 / 3:06 pm

    Yes, you’ve sold me on the idea of visiting Mel. It made me smile when we all try to grasp how enormous Australia has reminded me when driving around the outback and we saw a beware you are approaching a corner; we couldn’t stop laughing. Great shots of the gorge!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure June 12, 2021 / 3:47 pm

      Well, when you spend hours driving on a dead straight road, you wouldn’t want to be surprised by a corner! Heaven forbid! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rkrontheroad June 10, 2021 / 11:50 pm

    Beautiful rock colors, reminds me of southern Utah in the States, a stunningly photogenic place to hike. But my place of heaven would need some waves crashing up to the beach. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The Travel Architect June 16, 2021 / 11:15 am

    Looks divine, but 20 hours in a minibus? I would have had to swim for a week straight to wash away those kinks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chimptrips June 27, 2021 / 7:03 pm

    I think you deserved a refreshing swim after that journey! Sounds gorgeous. (swim not minibus)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, the Places We See July 5, 2021 / 11:40 pm

    What a gorgeous place! I’d love to visit there and lap up the scenery — everything of course, except for the snake!
    Thanks so much for following Oh, the Places We See. We hope to get in a bit more traveling this year than last year!

    Liked by 1 person

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