Why Karijini National Park Needs To Be On Your Bucket List

Fortescue Falls in Karijini National Park

Made up of a unique system of marble-red gorges, fairy-tale waterfalls and natural swimming pools, it’s mindblowing that Karijini National Park is unknown to many travellers – even those born in Australia.

Situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Karijini National Park is a true paradise for any backpacker who enjoys nature, stunning landscapes and untouched wilderness. It’s without a doubt one of the many hidden gems of the country.

The forty-eight hours I spent exploring this haven, were the most entertaining, awe-inspiring, and adventurous that I have experienced in any national park previously. There are a couple of reasons why. Let’s begin with the hiking options.

Now I’m no major hiker. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I really don’t enjoy uphill hiking.

However, after clapping eyes on the dramatic drops of Karijini National Park’s many gorges, some up to 100 metres deep, I was literally itching to hike down into each base and see what was hiding in the rocks and crevices below.

Fortescue Falls in Karijini National Park

Adventure hiking through unbelievable gorges

Most of the trails are difficulty level ‘Class 5’, meaning they contain vertical drops, slippery surfaces, and require traversing of boulders and rocks. I admit this made me nervous at first. Rather than let it put you off though, trust me when I say that the obstacles are what makes hiking the gorges of Karijini National Park so much fun. That’s coming from somebody who’s incredibly clumsy and completely non-athletic, by the way.

Firstly, there’s Hancock Gorge, which requires sections of ‘spider walking’ through narrow breaks in the gorge wall. Some parts of the trail are actually impossible to cross without wading or swimming, so a top tip for you, carry a dry bag at all times.

Hancock Gorge at Karijini National Park

One part of the trail at Hancock Gorge, the only way is through!

Then, there’s the journey to Handrail Pool, which climaxes at a huge pool inside cavernous gorge walls. The final climb into the water is a little steep, so the park owners have generously inserted a handrail to aid you, hence the name.

Handrail Pool hiking in Karijini National Park

The natural pool accessible by handrail and a steep climb

There’s also Dales GorgeCircular Pool, and Fern Pool and Fortescue Falls, with hiking trails surrounded by trickling creeks and green forest. As you hop across stepping stones to cross parts of the track, butterflies flutter above and colourful dragonflies hover on the water’s surface. It’s as if you’ve landed inside a children’s storybook (but without any wicked wolves or ugly stepmother’s).

Fern Pool and waterfall at Karijini National Park

The ideal swim stop at Fern Pool, complete with waterfall

If you still have the energy after all of these, you also have the options of Hamersley GorgeKnox Gorge… and more!

Hiking at Joffre Falls in Karijini National Park

Joffre Falls is another hiking option with a pool at its base

Don’t worry though, if you really don’t fancy hours of walking, you can view these impressive gorges from above by taking short trails to each lookout point. After this, you can wander to a few of the easier to reach waterfalls (Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool), which are perfect for an afternoon of lazing on rocks and taking a dip to escape the warmth of the Australian outback.

What makes Karijini National Park even more worth your bucket list though, is its historical significance.

Karijini National Park: A land of important Aboriginal history 

Like many places in Australia, Karijini National Park has a fascinating and sombre history relating to the country’s Indigenous people. A display at the national park’s Visitor Centre educates travellers on how the land was cared for by Aboriginal people prior to the arrival of non-Aboriginal people.

Not only could Aboriginal people living in the area navigate such a thick expanse of the bush without getting lost, they valued every tree, river, creek, and hill. Each held importance to them as markers of a person’s birthplace and the relationship between the people and the land was incredibly spiritual.

Sadly, once the area was discovered as prime for mining gold, iron ore, and other minerals, Indigenous communities were made to work on stations or in mines, for little or no pay. In the years since, there have been multiple injustices for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara and nationwide.

This basic Australian history won’t come as news to you, I’m sure. Yet to hear the accounts and stories of some of those that experienced this time, in video and audio footage played at the Visitor Centre, is extremely humbling.

Learning about the dedication of Aboriginal people towards the land of the Karijini National Park put it in an entirely new perspective for me. One that was extremely appreciative of the opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place, with respect to the traditional custodians of the land.

Karijini National Park in photos

Reading through this blog post, I’m not sure I’ve expressed just how unique your experience at Karijini National Park will be. Perhaps these photos can help you to see how spectacular it is:

Handrail Pool hiking trail

Climbing across boulders and rocks on the hike to Handrail Pool


Circular Pool in Karijini National Park

Another stunning endpoint on the Circular Pool hike


Taking in the scenery at Circular Pool

Out of this world scenery and a refreshing dip


One of the gorges at Karijini National Park

Another example of the narrow and challenging points of a hiking trail

Have I convinced you to add Karijini National Park to your bucket list yet? If so, stay tuned for an upcoming blog telling you all you need to know before you visit, plus where to save money and where to splurge whilst exploring. Sign up to be notified when new posts go live.

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Why Karijini National Park Needs To Be On Your Bucket List

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