Week 14 31/10/06 through 6/11/06
Day 92 Tuesday 31 October 2006
The Weano Gorge end of Karijini was on the agenda today. After we dried ourselves out from the previous nights soaking, we made our way back into the park. The road had coped well with the down pour, with only a few extra pools in the road to negotiate. Our first stop was Hancock Gorge. Access is via a short steep track, then down a ladder, which dropped us into the gorge. This was bush walking on a level we had both never experienced. We negotiated the gorge, which was narrow and in places cut with pools of water. This meant removing our shoes and wading through pools or even scaling the sides of rock walls to avoid the water. It was hard and slow going, but the rewards of Hancock Gorge were great. These included the Amphitheatre, Spider Walk, Kermits Pool and finally Reagan's Pool. As we were retracing our steps out of the gorge we ran into Peter and Reanne from Holland. They are visiting Australia, currently working their way to Perth, before flying to Melbourne and then playing tourist through to Sydney.
The Gorge next to Hancock Gorge is Weano Gorge. This gorge was not as hard to enter as Hancock, but offered its own challenges in navigating our way the end of the gorge, which is called the Handrail Pool. Once again the going was slow, but the pool was very pretty. The spiders also offered their artistic webs for us to see along the way.
From here we moved onto Junction and Oxer Lookouts. These offered a spectacular view of the areas where gorges meet and become one. The view is close to 100% vertical and extremely difficult to capture on camera. We had also heard that Joffre Falls only runs during the wet season or post rain, but when it wqs running it was quite spectacular. So this was the attraction to visit. We were fortunate. The previous few days storms had fed the streams enough to give us some good photo opportunities.
Our last point of call for the day was some 4WD tracks outside Karijini NP to Bee Gorge. It is a vast gorge which is not published much (most likely because of its proximity to Wittenoom, and its relative degree of difficulty in access). If you can find it - its worth the effort!
Day 93 Wednesday 1 November 2006
Last night we returned to the Munjina East Gorge lookout where we had previously camped. A rest day has been declared for today. We did meet a passer by who was checking out camp sites. Mike is a former Kiwi who drives escort vehicles for heavy and/or wide loads. He had just finished a trip escorting a load to Derby and was heading back to Perth to pick up another one.
Day 94 Thursday 2 November 2006
Left camp this morning relatively early as we wanted to have a search for the other end of the road to Bee Gorge and possibly link up with where we got to from the Karijini NP end. The turn into Bee Gorge was just a few kilometres from Wittenoon (Hamersley side), marked by only an old BP drum.
The road starts off as a driver friendly track, with one by pass track around a deep washed out point. Shortly after this by pass the track then drops into the creek bed and follows the creek up into the gorge passing some beautiful escarpments along the way. There are some points along the creek bed where you have no choice other than to slowly creep across the boulders, and other points where the the road seems to disappear completely. Someone has left a few white arrows on rocks to help mark the track, but these are few and far between. Near the end of gorge there is a side track to the right - take the left one. (NB there is a great view from the end of this side track and a rough climb to the top!) Eventually you reach the far flung part of the gorge where the track turns sharply left rising up the edge of an escarpment. Now be warned, this 200m of track is very tough and soft roaders and low clearance vehicles should turn around immediately. Even the big 4WDs will have some problems here with the wash outs, loose shale and the climbs over rocks so best to bring a friend! Once through this 200m of track it settles down into a hill climb to the top of the gorge and then around the edge. The view back down Bee's Gorge is very pretty, but the feeling you have made it there is better!. From here the track crosses a series of creeks until you emerge near Weano Gorge in Karjini National Park. Certainly a much shorter route than through Wittenoon. Note we did not drive the 200m section mentioned above as we did not have a support vehicle. We did however walk and check the route to where we were 2 days prior and there was evidence of a recent vehicle being there as their mud flap was still there!
Day 95 Friday 3 November 2006
As our tyres wear down, the 20,000 km or so that they have done has been hard on them and consequently we expect to see the odd flat. We were not disappointed today with our second flat tyre for the week. We were able to put a plug in the hole while it was still on the vehicle which made fixing it a relatively painless experience. Other than this flat, the trip across from Bee Gorge to Millstream Chichester NP had been quite uneventful.
Tyre fixed we were off to see the 2 sides of Millstream - Chichester National Park. The first section near Crossing Creek was all about Snappy Gum Trees and clean clear spring water. The second section near Python Pool was about rock engravings, arid barren Mountains and rock swimming holes.
We had heard a lot of positive things about the camping areas in the first section and when we inspected the camping at Crossing Pool, the grounds were well kept and tidy. The major negative we could see was the extremely small space for camping. From here we drove on Snappy Gum Drive to see the lookout and found the white guns against the landscape a pretty sight. The road then follows through to a crossing over the Fortescue River, before winding back to the visitors centre.
The visitors centre utilises the old homestead and is set amongst the springs which feed the disused irrigation channels. Certainly an incredible part of history.
Its only a relatively short drive to the second section of the park and the scenery changes dramatically. Looking down from the escarpment you see many kilometres over Pyramid Station. The mountain the station is named after is also easily seen from the lookout. Python pool to our surprise contained no pythons and was full of water, so a swim was definitely in order before we looked for some petroglyphs we had heard were in the area. We were only able to locate a few good examples of the local petroglyphs. Next stop was Karratha where we have decided to camp.
Day 96 Saturday 4 November 2006
We spent the day doing the rounds of Karratha, including getting another exhaust pipe bracket welded (that is the 3rd bracket - there can not be too many left be fore we start them all again) before we drove to Cleaverville Camping grounds (it was a bit too exposed and blustery to camp) and then 4WD along the foreshore to Point Samson.
It is a tradition amongst travellers to eat at Moby's Kitchen, a great seafood place and we'd had heard it was good value, so we had dinner at Moby's. Conveniently there is a small caravan park next door so we also decided to stay. The meal was of good quality, although we felt it was expensive for what you received. All in all though, it was an enjoyable night and we left well satisfied.
Day 97 Sunday 5 November 2006
Rest day - eat, swim, read and computing! What more could you ask for. Steve even managed a few beers.
Day 98 Monday 6 November 2006
Rest day - eat, swim, read and computing! OK so that's cheating a bit, copying from above... Most of the day was spent doing much at all. However Alison spent some time with a fellow camper John, showing him how to use a new portable printer he had purchased. John and his wife Margot are from Mandurah, which is south of Perth. They have been on the road since June, and are now slowly heading back towards home. We had an enjoyable dinner with John and Margot (we can recommend Margot's Salmon Patties), washed down with one or two bottles of white. A great way to end the day.
Stay tuned as the adventure continues......