Tom Price and Karajini National Park


The first sighting of my favourite wild flower Sturt's Desert Pea

The first sighting of my favourite wild flower Sturt’s Desert Pea

Once again, we visited here around 6 years ago at around the same time, so we had to find something new to do during our 4 night stay.

On Tuesday, we took a drive out along Karajini Drive, turned left into the national park and spend the day visiting Gorges. In rough order, we visited Joffre and Knox, Oxer Lookout, Weano, Kalamina and Circular Pool. It was a big day of driving on atrocious roads for the most part, and by the time we got to Circular Pool which we thought the prettiest on the day, we decided to go home and drive back out there today (Thursday) to make the climb to the bottom and explore the gorge properly. I was surprised to see all the gorges suggesting we could swim. I don’t remember that from our last visit here. The water must be freezing as they recommend wet suits if you intend to swim for any length of time. Pass!

Tom Price to Dampier Railway

Tom Price to Dampier Railway

Yesterday (Wednesday 16th),we headed out of town the other way along an unnamed sealed road that follows the Tom Price/Dampier railway Line. We then turned right onto “highway” 136, an unsealed road between Nanutarra Roadhouse and Munjina (formerly known as Auski Roadhouse). The road was fantastic and made for a fun day out.

Hamersley Gorge was also fantastic and although we’d been there before, the road in, parking and access is greatly improved since our last visit. We had never been to the bottom of it so decided this was the day to do it. It’s steep, and in parts you are crossing rock to get there, but I thought it was an easy 10 minutes down and an even easier 8 minutes up and absolutely stunning once we got there. My photos will never do it justice.

Hamersley Gorge

Hamersley Gorge

As there were no picnic tables at Hamersley, we drove on a few ks down highway 136, picked a pretty spot and pulled off the road for our lunch of Layered Chicken Salad I made earlier that morning. .

No town of Wittenoom anymore

No town of Wittenoom anymore

We continued down the road to the ghost town of Wittenoom. They mined blue asbestos up to the 60s before it became uneconomical and they realised the dangers of the stuff. According to a Wikipedia article on the place (well worth a read) 6 people remain in the ungazetted “town” living with no government services and no power. A drive round town shows the few remains of what was once the largest town in the Pilbara. We saw numerous warning re the danger of asbestos in the area but decided to take a look anyway as we were only visiting for an hour or so. The most exciting thing about the poor, sad town was finding our first patch of Sturt’s Desert Pea-my favourite wild flower.

After a look around the former town, we went on, looking for the Wittenoom Gorge we’d spotted on a map. When the dirt road turned to seal again and with no sign of the gorge, we decided to turn round and go home the way we’d come as the road was so good and we’d save 40ks of driving. When we got back to Wittenoom township, I suggested to Russ that the gorge might be along the road/street that seemed to cut through town into the hills behind. Sure enough, although any signage to the gorge had long gone, there it was. Such a pity something so beautiful has been defiled by the mining of something so deadly. The place is amazing. We weren’t the only daredevils and thrill seekers defying the rather graphic signage-we spotted a big off-road van parked in a lovely spot and two 4WDs passed us at another stage. WA roads and floods have long ago destroyed the low level crossings at creeks, so other visitors have created crossings over the creek beds. It was a fun visit of 4WDing and water crossings and stunning scenery.

Creek crossing Wittenoom Gorge

Creek crossing Wittenoom Gorge

We both agreed Wednesdays’ drive was by far the most scenic and enjoyable of our two days out in the park and also one of the best days out we’ve ever had.

Today has been a quiet day doing a bit of shopping, laundry, blogging and finally 4WDing up Mt Nameless behind the caravan park here in town. Lovely to Skype with son Daniel and grandsons Kobie and Rooke.  Tomorrow we’ll sleep on the side of the road somewhere, then Saturday we’ll be in Coral Bay. It’s important to shop well for Coral Bay as the little “supermarket” there basically doubles the price you’d pay anywhere else. Two smaller shops sell reasonably price fruit and veg from Carnarvon so no need to worry about that during our stay.

Wild flowers on Mt Nameless

Wild flowers on Mt Nameless

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