Planning a trip to Karijini National Park, Western Australia? This is the ideal 5 day itinerary, ensuring you see everything there is to see as well as where to stay!
Karijini National Park is the second largest national park in Australia and is known for it’s swimming holes and rugged landscape. If you’re thinking about visiting this national park, be prepared for adventure, and getting your toes wet. You don’t HAVE to do everything single thing in this itinerary, but following it will ensure that you see everything there is to see, from the famous Spa Pool at Hamersley Gorge, the picturesque Fern Pool all the way to Kermit’s pool for the adventurous. If you have a 4WD there is only ONE gorge I’m missing in this itinerary of Karijini, more on that later.
Getting Around and Entry
I believe the best way to travel to and get around Karijini is by travelling by campervan/caravan or camping, and that is the type of travel this itinerary is designed for. Comment below if you’re interested in hearing an itinerary from Perth to Karijini. Otherwise, you can also rent a car to get around. However you can stay at the Karijini Eco Retreat as they offer other accomodation including glamping.
To enter the national park you do need to pay the park entry which is $15 per vehicle, or you can purchase a WA Park Pass if you’re going to be going to a few national parks in the state.
Day #1: Hamersley Gorge
This gorge is a little further away than other national parks in the area, which makes it ideal for the beginning or the end of your itinerary at Karijini. Either before you enter the main area of the national park, or after you exit.
There are multiple different roads to get there, but the one that is usually in the best condition is from Tom Price.
Hammersley Gorge has a beautiful main pool that you descend to directly from the car park. It’s not a long walk but there are a lot of steps to get down, and then back up when you leave.
Once you’ve descended into the gorge, you can enjoy the main pool and sit on the rocks in the sun. You can also continue the trail towards the right, scaling over some boulders towards the second pool and lastly, the famous Spa Pool. The easiest way to get to the spa pool is to swim through the secondary pool, though if you’re agile you may be able to climb along the rocks to get around.
This small, but deep pool, is often busy with people trying to get photos, so you may have to wait a little to get it to yourself.
Stay at a caravan park in Tom Price or at one of the free rest stops nearby.
Day #2: Mt Bruce
Day #2 on the Karijini National Park itinerary is Mt Bruce is the second tallest peak in Western Australia. Second to Mt Mehanny, only 62kms away near Newman. However, Mt Bruce is known for it’s picturesque summit hike.
The road in to get to the Mt Bruce car park is 3km unsealed road, off Karijini Drive, and can be corrugated to take your time and drive to conditions.
The summit hike is a challenging, but very rewarding hike. It is 9km return and may take you 4-6 hours. Many people take this hike in the morning for sunrise. I recommended starting it in the morning so that you’re sure to be finished before it gets dark (or before it gets too hot). The walk starts off reasonably easy, but soon turns into a Class 5 hike, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear, bring enough water and maybe even some snacks for when you summit.
After the hike, head to Karijini Eco Retreat.
Day #3: Hancock and Weano Gorge (Handrail and Kermit’s Pool)
The convenience of staying at Karijini Eco Retreat means you’re nice and close to a few different gorges in this area. The first on the itinerary being Weano Gorge.
The drive into Weano Gorge is 12km of unsealed road that is corrugated and bumpy at times. Take it slow and drive to conditions (we got in fine in our 2WD van, it just took a bit of time).
Start by doing the hike, go left along the gorge rim first before you descend into the gorge. When you come back out the other side, you’ll be able to continue along to head towards handrail pool.
This is a tricky hike, where good shoes (or reef shoes) will be needed. Once you arrive at the pool. There is an almost vertical handrail that you’ll use to descend (hence the name, handrail pool).
If you’re up for swimming through the crisp waters, you can continue along the pool, over some rocks, until the end of the trail. It’s dark, and it’s rocky, but its a fun and adventurous swim for those who are game.
Once you finish up at Handrail Pool, head back towards the carpark. Have a break, or maybe even some lunch, before heading to the other pool in the Weano Area: Kermit’s Pool
The walk to Kermits pool is 2km long and has always been known for it’s “Spider walk” to get to the pool where people would avoid stepping in the water by having their hands and feet climbing on the walls on either side. However, this is not recommended as these rocks get slippery and many injuries have occurred due to this practice. Instead, opt for reef shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet, and walk through the water. Not only is it much safer but it is also refreshing to do so.
There are some spots along the way where you can choose to scale the walls or opt to swim through the crossings, which ever one you feel safer doing is what I’d recommend.
The pool at the end of this spot, Kermit’s Pool, is another small pool you can swim in. This one also gets quite cold due to the lack of sun. However, depending on what time of day you’re there you may be able to get a little spot on the rocks in the sun to warm up on.
After your long day of hikes and swims in freezing pools, head back to Karijini Eco Retreat and enjoy dinner and a drink at their restaurant.
Day #4: Joffre Falls and Knox Gorge
Make the most of being nice and close at Karijini Eco Retreat by visiting Joffre Falls and Knox Gorge.
Joffre Falls is the easier and shorter trail. This one involves ladders to descend into the gorge below. There are two pools you can swim in here. From our experience, these are less busy than the two pools at the Weano area, so enjoy the sounds of water flowing through the gorge and the tranquility.
Knox Gorge is a drive a little further. This was our favourite Gorge in all of Karijini. Not only because it was a lot less busy than any of the others, but because we found it to be the most beautiful.
It is only a 2km hike, but it is a challenging class 5. Like most of the gorges, you begin my descending via stairs and big rocks into the gorge. You’re immediately greeted with the towering walls and beautiful greenery around you.
During this walk, there is one point where you have to climb along the wall, or you can choose to swim through the pool, though it looked a little stagnant to us so we opted to climb.
Everywhere you look at Knox Gorge is so beautiful. And as you approach the end you’ll see a long and slim pool. We got there when the sun was peeking through the gorge and basked the freezing pool in sun. We had this place all to ourselves whilst we were there, and we enjoyed it so much.
You can choose to stay at Karjini Eco Retreat again if you started a little later on this day, or drive to Dales Campground and stay there for the night as the last gorge in Karjini is right near this area – when you make the drive from the one side of the national park to the next, make sure you take the long way around back out to Karijini Drive. Although this drive is longer, it’s sealed, whereas the drive directly across the park is 4WD only.
OPTIONAL: If you have a 4wd you’ll be able to travel across the park to Dales Campground via Kamina Gorge. This road is long and rough, and that is the only gorge you can’t access with a 2WD.
Day #5: Dales Gorge (Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool)
Make your way towards the Dales area and campground so as to see the last gorge of this itinerary (and the last that is 2WD accessible in Karijini), Dales Gorge. This gorge is on the other side of the national park to the other ones, hence why it’s good to split up your stay between Karijini Eco Retreat and the Dales Campground.
The Dales campground is a basic camp area that needs to be booked through the Park Stay WA. Remember that it can book out so make sure you book it in advance.
We started our time at the Dales area with the Dales Gorge Trail. We started going along the top of the gorge, proceeding towards the left of the carpark, before descending into the gorge. Although the way down into the gorge is mainly steps, some of them are quite big and require some effort. This is a 2km return and a class 4.
Once you’ve descended into the gorge you will making your way through the lush greenery, past a few picturesque pools before arriving at Fortescue Falls. Feel free to stop here for a swim, or continue on towards Fern Pool.
Fern Pool is another well known pool thanks to Instagram, featuring a deep blue pool and a waterfall. We swam here for a little bit before going back to Fortescue Falls since it gets more sun, where you can sit and read, before walking up the stairs back to the carpark.
That wraps up this suggested itinerary of Karijini National Park to ensure you don’t miss anything! We loved our time in Karijini National Park and it’s definitely one of those places that you could go back to and see it again but in a completely different light.
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