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!
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!
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.
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.
When did you die and go to Heaven?
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.
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.
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.
#karijini #travelinspo #westernaustralia #karijininationalpark #shortwalks #DalesGorge #dayswalks #swimmingholes #outbackaustralia #indigenoushistory.