Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write a Travelogue (11/06/14)
- TITLE: Karijini National Park
By Trace Pezzali
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Karijini National Park in the Hamersley Ranges of northwestern Western Australia impacted me thus. I yearn for the adventure I found in the depths of its patterned fractured gorges.
National pride gave me a sense of home wherever I travelled in my three-month stint around Australia. Blood-familiar with every red desert, loamy rainforest, creased mountain range, sheer coastline and modern city.
This is my land.
Ah, but Karijini! Located in the Pilbarra, civilisation is half a day’s drive away; 88 kilometres to the isolated iron-mine town of Tom Price. Though 2WD vehicles can crawl to Karijini, a 4WD is less traumatised navigating a course over the corrugated unsealed road which is the only way in.
It was in August 2006 with my fiancé that I experienced this wild land for three days. It was hot but not yet as an oven. The nights were cold enough for snuggled delight. I enjoyed the charms of rough camping in a roof tent, protected from danger by height.
This region was not a comfortable place. Fine red dust insinuated itself everywhere, in everything. Black fat flies relentlessly targeted our faces and necks (Do they gleefully harass and to their fellows, brag?). We heard many reptiles in their hidden scurry over crinkled leaves. Our hearts stopped, then thudded, when on a walk we encountered a black snake. Mosquitoes loved our skins. And unpredictable Dingos roamed close to camp for food.
The tectonic plates of this vast plateau had torn apart to reveal complex geography; a maze of deep gorges which we entered into. In different places water swept along the rocky valleys and formed rivers, pools and small waterfalls. These were the sights we trekked to see. Walk trails meandered down, through pungent eucalypt and fuzzy Spinifex shrubs.
We became smaller, towered over by iron-rich sedimentary walls. Flirtatious, the shifting sun played with deep shadows across sheer and jagged faces; the shale glorified by fiery highlights. There was a vast spectrum of warm colour in the striations: black, grey, purple, burgundy, orange, red, moss green.
The valleys required us to thoughtfully clamber over dry and slippery rocks, jump over and wade through waterways, to arrive at key attractions: Circular Pool (gaspingly cold but the waterfall a warm shower), Fortescue Falls (stepped cascades), and Fern Pool (shallow cave behind white water curtain).
It was in Weano Gorge that Karijini marked me forever. This mild hike along its valley quickly became tricky as I sought footfalls in the shale above a deepening stream of water. I’m petrified of heights. I’m on hands and knees to clamber over a small boulder. Knee high is too high. My partner was a nimble suckered lizard; he moved easily across the jagged shale.
I chose the low road. Tentative steps onto slimy rocks... balanced my weight... slid often into the sweeping water. I LOVED IT! What an adventure.
We reached the narrow chasm waterfall which boasted a ten foot drop into a deep pool below. To go further I had to scale down a knotted rope and lean out at a 90 degree angle. This. Rendered. Me. Incapable. “I can’t do this I can’t do this,” I cried, my nervous system in overdrive. My legs and arms shook.
Bolstered by the calm instructor who verbalised my every step... I did it. I DID IT!
We traversed the pool’s perimeter and explored another crevice which ended at a twenty foot drop, suitable only for experienced rock climbers. Uhuh. No way. Back we came.
Of course, what (being I) went down, must come up. This was a harder challenge. I slipped several times. Was convinced I’d fall. I didn’t.
The next day we visited Hancock Gorge which included the Spider Walk and Kermits Pool. This was an easier trek. Again I walked through the minor waterfalls, and swam in the river over pebbled beds rather than climb along chasm walls.
One last night, and then it was a sad farewell to this thrillingly hazardous place. The sculptured forms here are frequently touched by hands but scarcely known.
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