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Karijini National Park is one of Australia’s most beautiful and untouched places with many adventurous hikes and challenging trails. From the rockpools of the Hamersly gorge to the waterfalls at the Fern Pools, this national park has something for everyone.
Karijini National Park is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, with its rugged landscapes and stunning gorges. In this guide, I will show you how to make the most of your time in this incredible national park, regardless of whether you travel to the park from Exmouth or Broome.
How To Get To Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park is located in the Pilbara Region in the North West of Western Australia and is quite a long drive to reach. Most travelers visit Karijini as part of their road trip along the Coral Coast between Exmouth and Broome. However, you can drive to Karijini from Perth and make a stop in Meekatharra, which is in the middle of this 14-hour drive.
The road from Exmouth to Karijini is unsealed while most of the road from Broome is a sealed road if you enter the National Park from the East. The National Park is accessible with a 2WD, although I recommend a 4WD to explore most of Western Australia.
Best Time To Visit Karijini National Park
The best time to visit Karijini is between April and September when the weather is the best. However, it is important to note that the Park can be quite hot and wet during summer from November to March, so be prepared and take enough water, sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing.
I went in July and August and temperatures were around 30 degrees during the daytime and around 10 degrees at night but campsites were booked out very fast so make sure you book in advance during this period. Although every season has its pros and cons, I recommend visiting Karijini between May and August.
Entrance Fee for Karijini National Park
To enter the National Park you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of AU$ 15/ vehicle that does not include your camping spot. However, if you are planning to visit more National Parks in Western Australia, I highly recommend buying an annual WA Park Pass online for only AU$ 120.
Accommodation In Karijini National Park
The options for accommodation in Karijini National Park are limited as there is only one resort/lodge, the Karijini Eco Retreat, and two campgrounds with basic facilities inside the National Park, Dales Campground, and the Dales Overflow (only in use during peak season)
To reserve a campsite in Karijini you’ll need to book a spot through the website of Western Australia Parks, which is highly recommended from May to August and it costs only AU$ 11/night
Whether you drive from Exmouth to Karijini or from Broome to Karijini, I recommend staying one night in Tom Price as the trip is quite long.
I stayed one night in Tom Price, which is the town at the entrance of the Park, and two more nights at and at the Dales Campground inside the Park. However, if you are looking for a more luxury stay and a unique experience in the Australian Outback then definitely stay at the Karijini Eco Retreat.
This eco-friendly resort is located inside the National Park and at walking distance of the Joffre Gorge.
The resort offers camping in Karijini and luxury eco tents that are just amazing and with all amenities to make your stay even more comfortable. Every tent has also a view deck to watch the beautiful night skies.
Prices start from AU$ 380/night for a room and AU$ 22 for an unpowered campsite
This great caravan park is located just outside of the town of Tom Price but offers everything you need for a relaxed night. Enough trees for some shade and a camp kitchen with BBQs.
I book a powered site to charge all my camera gear before heading into the park and I paid about AU$ 40/night.
How much time do you need in Karijini?
Karijini has a lot of amazing hikes and gorges to explore and even after 4 days in this beautiful National Park, I was not able to explore all of it. However, in 3 or 4 days you can discover most of the highlights of Karijini.
This itinerary is based on the two times I have visited the National Park and if you want the visit the park only a few days or stay even longer, this itinerary is easy to adapt to your length of stay.
Things to know before you go to Karijini National Park
Before heading to Karijini National Park and exploring its majestic and beautiful gorges there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind or know before you go.
To help you, I made a list wich helped me out a lot during my visit in July and August.
- Have a spare tire with you (or even 2) – Mechanics in Tom Price will rip you off and a towing from inside the park is expensive
- Get a map of Karijini National Park at the Visitor Center in Tom Price, Exmouth, or Port Hedland
- Get fuel before you go into the Park
- You’ll need a National Park Pass or pay the entrance fee when you enter Karijini National Park
- Book your campsite in advance during the peak season
- Walking trails are marked with a colored and class/grade level
- Take your rubbish with you, there is a dump point at the Dales Overflow Campground which is only accessible during the peak season
- Take enough water as there is no drinkable water but only bore water at the Dales Campground (except at the Karijini Eco Retreat)
- Check the weather to prepare for your hike – If it is a really warm day try to go early in the morning for your hike
- Check which gorges are open or closed on the website of the WA Parks or by asking a park ranger at the spot
- Watch your step during a hike
4 days in Karijini National Park
Day 1: Drive to Karijini National Park
Whether you are coming from Exmouth to Karijini or Broome to Karijini, the drive is long and pretty boring but some of the landscapes are beautiful. If you come from Broome or Port Hedland, I recommend doing some shopping in the supermarket before heading to Karijini.
Also, make sure you have a spare tyre with you as the dirt roads are full of sharp stones and the mechanics in Tom Price charge full price for a new tyre. I had a flat tyre on Nanutarra Rd and paid AU$ 380 for a new spare tyre.
I also recommend visiting the stunning Hamersley Gorge as it is actually located on the North-Western border of the National Park and it’s easier to reach before you go into the National Park.
Recommended time: Calculate 2-3 hours to spend here
To get to Hamersly Gorge you’ll need to drive about 70km along the Nanutarra Rd. from Tom Price or about 90 km from the Great Northern Highway if you come from Broome. Both roads are unsealed but accessible but a 2 WD.
Once you reach the car park, you can have a look over Hamersley Gorge from the lookout deck or either walk a class 5 trail down.
Hamersley Gorge is a very popular place and with its sharp layered cliffs and rock pools, it is a perfect spot to have a swim during a hot day. Once you reach the bottom of the gorge, you can have a swim through the canyon on the left but to see the “Spa Pool” you’ll need to climb up the rocks and upon the ladder on the right.
I went twice to Hamersley Gorge and sunset was absolutely my favorite time to go there.
Tom Price Town
After exploring Hamersley Gorge, I recommend driving to the town of Tom Price. This small town is located at the West entrance of Karijini National Park and is the perfect place to stock up on supplies before your adventure begins. There is a Coles supermarket and a liquor shop, some cafes and the visitor center of Tom Price, so you’ll be able to find everything you need.
If you’re looking to spend a night before entering Karijini, I recommend staying at the Tom Price Caravan Park. This caravan park is set in a lovely green oasis and has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay.
TIP: Ask for a map of Karijini National Park in the Visitor Centre as there is limited reception in the park.
Day 2: Knox Gorge and Joffre Falls
After a night in Tom Price, it’s time to start exploring Karijini National Park! In the morning, I did some extra shopping in the supermarket and fuelled the car up.
The first places I went to is Joffre Gorge and Knox Gorge. These two gorges are located quite close to each other and offer a good introduction to the Park. Once you arrive at the car park of the Joffre Gorge, you can follow the walking path to the right towards the view platform, where you can admire the Joffre Falls during the wet season.
After a view on the lookout deck, I decided to explore Knox Gorge First and come back before sunset to walk down into the Joffre Gorge.
Recommended time: Calculate 2-3 hours to spend here
To get to Knox Gorge, drive along the Karijini Drive and turn left on the Banjima Drive until you reach the Joffre Gorge/Falls sign. Keep in mind that you will pass the National Park entrance gate so you’ll need to pay the entrance fee if you didn’t buy the National Park Pass.
Drive all the way on the dirt road and pass the Joffre Gorge until you reach the Knox Gorge car park.
The Knox Gorge is one of my favorite gorges in Australia as it is a beautiful and rewarding walk with stunning views and you can have a swim down the gorge. You can easily go there during noon as most of the gorge is in shade during the daytime.
There is a lookout close to the car park where you can see actually the whole gorge and the amazing rock pools down there but when I was there, it was closed due to falling rocks. However, I recommend going down in the gorge, so follow the signs to the right of the car park to start your hike down.
The first part of the hike is pretty steep with rock climbing parts but once you’re down, it is just amazing. At the end of the gorge is a section where you’ll need to either swim or climb the rocks to cross and I also recommend going all the way to the end of the gorge to see the sunlight through the chasm.
TIP: Go around noon or early afternoon to see the light in the chasm and to go back on time to the Joffre Falls.
Joffre Gorge/ Joffre Falls & Lookout
Recommended time: Calculate 2 hours to spend here
After exploring Knox Gorge, drive back down the road to the Joffre Gorge and follow the walking trail on the left towards the bottom of the gorge.
For the more adventurous people, you can walk along the edge and climb down the rocks and ladders to the actual bottom of the gorge. Here you can swim or enjoy the amazing reflections on the water with sunset.
There is also a walking path from the Karijini Eco Retreat that connects with the walking trail from the car park of the Joffre Falls and leads down to the Joffre Gorge.
The track is a class 4 and steep and slippery in places, so be careful! Once you reach the bottom, take a walk along the river and enjoy the natural beauty of Karijini National Park.
TIP: Visit Knox Gorge first and the bottom of the Joffre Gorge with sunset to admire the reflections on the water
Day 3: Weano Gorge, Hancock Gorge and Kermits Pool
Today is the day to attempt one of Karijini’s most popular hikes, Hancock Gorge & Kermits Pool, Oxer Lookout, and Handrail Gorge. The day is a full day of activity, hiking and requires a certain fitness level, so make sure you’re prepared before taking on this adventure.
Hancock Gorge & Kermits Pool
Recommended time: Calculate 3 hours to spend here
I recommend going here early in the morning and doing this hike as first as you will get wet, you will avoid other hikers and you don’t want to do this hike when it is too hot.
To get to Hancock Gorge, drive along the Karijini Dr until you reach a signpost for the Karijini Eco Retreat and follow the Weano Dr. The track is rough and corrugated in places, so I recommend driving slowly. The car park has toilets, picnic tables, and shady spots.
The Hancock Gorge and Kermits Pool hikes are very challenging and adventurous so know your level of fitness, bring enough water, and wear sunscreen or take a hat.
The walk will take you into the gorge where you’ll need to cross through water, climb rocks and scramble like a spider through a gap to finally reach the Kermits Pool. And I ensure you, you will not regret your wet shoes or clothes when you see this amazing place.
Recommended time: Calculate 0,5 hours to spend here
After hiking in Hancock Gorge & Kermits Pool, you probably need a rest so it is the perfect opportunity to have your lunch. After your lunch, you can do a small and easy walk to the Oxer Lookout for some amazing views of the Weano Gorges.
Recommended time: Calculate 3 hours to spend here
After a rest and the stunning view of the Oxer Lookout, it’s time for another amazing walk. The Weano Gorge Loop has 2 parts, the Upper Weano and the Lower Weano with the Handrail Gorge as its last part of the trail.
The Weano Gorge is a class 4 walk, while the Handrail Gorge hike is a class 5 with very steep parts and climbing sections. there is a metal handrail placed in the rocks to climb up and down into the gorge, from where its name comes from.
Although the hike is pretty challenging, you will be rewarded with some amazing scenery and a refreshing swim into the Handrail Pool.
After this beautiful day full of hiking, I drove back to the Dales Campground to prepare some food and watch the amazing stars a the sky.
CAUTION: The Handrail Gorge might be some of the most dangerous ones in Karijini as there happened several accidents and even a fatal one.
Day 4: Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool
On the last day in Karijini, I took it a bit slower and visited the Fortescue Falls and the Fern Pools. Although I wanted to explore the Circular Pools and the Dales Gorge unfortunately both places were closed to the public, so make sure you check in advance which areas or hiking trails are open.
However, The Fern Pools and the Fortescue Falls are the perfect spots to end these 4 days in Karijini National Park.
Recommended time: Calculate 1-2 hours to spend here
From the Dales Campground (or the Dales Overflow) it is only a few kilometers to the Fern Pools and Fortescue Falls. Once you reach the car park, you can walk to the view platform and watch the incredible views of the Dales Gorge.
The walk to the Fern Pools starts with a steep descent down on the stairs into the gorge and then follows along the Fortescue Falls into the trees. The walk is easy and just under 2km long, but watch your step as there are some rocks and uneven parts on the walking track. Once you reach Fern Pool, enjoy a refreshing swim in this beautiful natural pool or swim behind the waterfalls.
It is also a beautiful place for photographers.
Recommended time: Calculate 3 hours to spend here
After exploring the Fern Pools and taking a swim, I decided to relax at the Fortescue falls as the water was refreshing and the flat surface on the rocks is a perfect spot to lay down your towel.
You can spend easily a few hours here swimming under the waterfall or sunbathing on the rocks.
After a few hours, it was time to continue my road trip in Australia and head towards the next destination. If you come from Exmouth to Karijini then you probably head towards Broome or either in the other direction from Karijini to Exmouth.
However, If you have more time to explore Karijini National Park, I highly recommend visiting Mount Bruce and the Dales Gorge Loop as these are also stunning places!
Other places to visit in Karijini National Park
Recommended time: Calculate 6-7 hours to spend here
Class 5 – high fitness level required
Mount Bruce is the second-highest point in Western Australia. To get to Mount Bruce, drive along the main road of Karijini National Park until you see a signpost for Weano Gorge. From here, take the right turn and drive down the dirt track.
The hike up to Mount Bruce is challenging, but the views are worth it! Once you reach the top, take a break and enjoy the amazing views over Karijini National Park.
Kalamina Gorge is a beautiful and peaceful place to explore. The hike to Kalamina Gorge starts with a gentle ascent through some beautiful bushland. Once you reach the gorge itself, take a walk along the track until you find yourself in front of an amazing rock pool and waterfall! If you’re feeling adventurous, jump into the pool and enjoy a refreshing swim.
Karijini National Park is a beautiful place, and I recommend spending at least 4 days exploring it! There are so many amazing sights to see and hikes to do; you’ll never get bored.
So, whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or a relaxing getaway in a remote area, Karijini National Park is the place to be.
There’s no better way to spend an adventure in Australia! So, what are you waiting for?
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PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.