Grab your swimming gear and lace up your walking shoes (yes, the swimmers/hiking boots combo is a good look), today we are heading down into Kalamina Gorge.
A few weeks ago I shared a small introduction to the stunning Karijini National Park with a walk and dip at Dales Gorge and Knox Gorge. Today we are visiting a smaller, but no less beautiful gorge deep in the heart of the National Park.
Kalamina Gorge has a completely different feel to the others we visited on our Western Australian adventure. Yes, there was the usual steep clamber down red rocks to get to the base of the Gorge, but Kalamina Gorge is significantly shallower and wider. You still get that gorge experience, but it has a more open feeling rather than treading along a narrow path with cliff walls looming above.
To walk the length of this Gorge they recommend you allow three hours, but obviously the walk can take as long as you like and it would take even more time if you slow down to enjoy the scenery, take endless photos and swim. It is much easier to access than say, Knox Gorge. It has a shorter and less steep descent down some quite well-formed steps, and with a more stable surface underfoot. Much less rock scrambling is required.
A feature of Kalamina Gorge is that you have two swimming options to choose from. As you come down the steps at the head of the Gorge, turn right and you will find a small waterfall and a sheltered pool. It does take a little rock scrambling to get there, but it is certainly worth it. While the waterfall is on the small side, it tumbles into the perfect setting with straggly eucalypts shading the pool. The waterfall then cascades over more rocks, feeding a tranquil reed-edged swimming hole. A little like Dales Gorge, this pool is ideal for lazing in and floating on your back contemplating the brilliant blue sky above and life in general.
This pool and waterfall feeds a delightful stream trickling its way down the centre of Kalamina Gorge. The water flow varies from still, peaceful pools to mini-cascades and rivulets providing movement and sound to this otherwise blissfully quiet stroll.
It is quite a walk from the waterfall to the Rock Arch Pool at the far end of the Gorge. The path criss-crosses the bottom of the Gorge, sometimes hopping across the most perfect natural stepping stones to clambering over yet more rock shelves and edging around cliffs. As you walk, the width of the gorge opens and closes, revealing snapshots of different views – substantial trees and grassy knolls to sheer rock chasms and narrow passages that seem to go nowhere.
Rock Arch Pool is a fitting end to your trek. It is completely secluded and the pool is deep, wide and welcoming. There is nothing more appealing than making your way around the edge of a rock wall to discover a pristine pool placed just for your exclusive enjoyment.
Rock Arch Pool is so named because of its ‘rock’ and ‘arch’. Funny about that.
I can only imagine the harsh conditions – wind-blasted sand and rain and endless searing heat – that has taken thousands of years to create the Arch, just for our viewing pleasure. Our visit is fleeting, but its impact is far more enduring.
Slipping into the water, it seems rude to splash or disturb the absolute peace and stillness of the surroundings. Eventually, another group of adventurers arrive and laughter and cavorting ensues. Oh well, the quiet was nice while it lasted.
Walking back up the Gorge again, I was dazzled by the knowledge of what an astounding country Australia is and what a privilege it is to live here. It’s also a privilege to have the time and ability to visit distant parts of this vast continent.
If you decide to visit Kalamina Gorge, here are a few tips:
- Distance and Time: This path is approximately 3km long and they recommend you allow 3hours return.
- Rating: This walk is rated 4/5. They describe the trails as being ‘moderately difficult and over variable surfaces. Expect steep gradients and natural obstacles including rocks and shallow pools’.
- Footwear: Those sturdy walking sandals are a good option for this walk.
- Water Safety: Be careful when entering the Rock Arch Pool. There seems to be some nice steps to help you enter/exit the water, but these drop away very quickly. Don’t rush.
- Rock Safety: The more open layout of this gorge can be deceptive and lead you to think it is an easy and quick walk. Again, be careful of slippery rocks underfoot. Water and smooth rocks are not a good or safe combination.
- Things that Bite: Be aware and beware of snakes! Apparently King Brown snakes are active 24/7 x 365 days. They are not a problem if you give them the respect they deserve and plenty of room to escape.
- Waymarking: Small coloured circles are attached to rocks to show you the safest path along the Gorge floor.
- Fitness: You don’t need a high level of fitness to enjoy this walk, just be ready for short flights of steps and stairs, and a few rock ledges to get over or around.
- 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.
Climbing the stone steps back up out of Kalamina Gorge, I felt full, replete. My muscles were warm and tired from the hiking and swimming, and my skin felt toasty from a day under the Aussie sun. All I needed now was to kick back with a frosty beverage to complete a perfect day of adventure.
What does your perfect day look like?
What: With our international borders still firmly locked (until at least mid-2022), it was time to cast our mind and eyes to a more domestic adventure. Hence the WA escapade. Covid19 is still causing us some internal travel grief with each State Premier setting the rules of entry and travel including snap lock downs, border passes and compulsory isolation. Interesting times!
When: Even in the middle of Autumn the days were very hot and perfect for swimming, but make sure you pack your long johns for the chilly nights.
Why: For a slice of the most breathtaking landscape, rich Indigenous history, vivid colours and endless space. I know I have already used this description for Knox Gorge, but it is a good fit here too. I suspect that this is going to start to sound like a broken record. 🙂
How: You will need your own car to get to Karijini National Park or join a tour like we did. 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: Children and the young at heart will love this gorge, its paths and pools, and the hidden mysteries around each corner.
Related Posts: For a stunning swimming experience, with a bit of rock climbing thrown in, don’t miss Knox Gorge.
Related Blogs: For some more beautiful photos of Kalamina Gorge and some excellent trip notes, have a read about what Alissa and Don found there.
Read About It: For a good snapshot of the beauty and harshness of life in the Aussie Outback, grab a copy of We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn. Those pioneering outback women were, and still are, made of tough stuff. Go straight to Book Depository.
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