Karijini National Park – Dales Gorge and Mt Meharry

Karijini National Park covers parts of the Hammersley Ranges in the Pilbara region in NW Australia.   The rocks in this area are understood to have been formed about 2500 million years ago on submerged continental shelves in the form of layers of iron rich hematite and quartz which have far more recently been raised above sea level.  Even more recently, gorges have been carved through these layers to produce dramatic ravines with banded red and black rock walls.

fortescue falls
Fortesque Falls in Dales Gorge
steve at fortescue falls
Fortesque Falls
ferns at fern pool
Maidenhair ferns at Fern Pool near the top of Dales Gorge
fern pool
Fern Pool.   With a temperature in the low 20s, it is one of the rare warmish pools in Karijini National Park and is a great swimming spot.
dales gorge
Looking down Dales Gorge
dales gorge from fortescue falls
Dales Gorge

Banded Iron formations in Dales Gorge

Pheasant Coucal close
A fearless pheasant coucal wandered past literally 3 metres away 
dales gorge
Typical Pilbara banded iron in Dales Gorge

dales gorge walk

circular pool dales gorge
Circular Pool – at the bottom of a subsidiary gorge to Dales Gorge – viewed from a lookout.
circular pool lookout
Looking up at the lookout and the photographer
circular pool bottom
Circular Pool from the bottom – nice and “refreshing”
asbestos risk sign
While currently best known for it’s iron ore resources, the Pilbara also contains asbestos deposits which were mined in the mid twentieth century – at one point supporting a town of 30,000 people.   Today that town (Wittenoom) has had to be abandoned*.   It would be an interesting place to visit if you were feeling brave, but we weren’t – especially given the high winds we were experiencing on our first few days here.     * Depending on who you talk to, Wittenoom has either been totally depopulated, or there are still up to about 12 die-hards / conspiracy theorists living there.  Either way it is officially de-proclaimed and no longer appears on official maps.
asbestos 1
The lower part of Dales Gorge also contain some native blue asbestos between the bands of iron/quartz.    Like the sign says above, it is supposedly safe when not disturbed.   However…
blue asbestos
… in some parts it appears on the footpath where it shows obvious signs of being trampled.
3 way lookout
Lower Dales Gorge at sunset.

We spent 3 nights at Dales Gorge in the eastern part of Karijini National Park during which time I also climbed Mt Meharry – the highest peak in the state of Western Australia.  Sadly Maddy had succumbed to the lurgy so she did not feel up to joining me neither on Mount Meharry, nor on the gorge adventure tour which I will cover in the next post.   After Dales Gorge we spent a couple of nights in Tom Price then returned to the national park staying at the Karijini Eco Retreat camping area – which will also be covered in another post.

karijini map

heading to meharry
On the way to Mt Meharry.   While it is possible to drive to the top, the last 5km are very rough going.   As I was keen for a bit of exercise and the Prado had once again started flashing a “check engine” warning light, I decided to walk the last 5km.
meharry from road
First view of the mighy Mt Meharry.   OK this is Australia – we are not blessed with towering mountain peaks, especially on the mainland.   So basically anything that provides a view of the surrounding countryside can be called a mountain, and anything more than 500m above said countryside deserves the title “mighty”

meharry trial risk

The authorities in Western Australia are astoudingly productive in the number and diversity of their risk signs.   The summit track pretty much follows the skyline from the right and the summit itself is roughly behind the bush

meharry trail
Approaching the start of the north-west ridge
looking west near summit
Looking west from near the top.
meharry plaque
Despite its potential for stories of a more humorous origin, it seems the mountain was named after a real person.   However the surveying parties must have had a sense of humor because there is also a Mt Bruce and a Mt Sheila in the area – seriously.
mt meharry summit shot
And that ticks off number 6 of the so called “state 8” peaks that I have climbed in Oz.   The others being: NSW (and Australia) – Mt Koscuiszko, which I have visited many times; Victoria – Mt Bogong, which we climbed earlier in this trip;  Queensland – Mt Bartle Frere, an epic jungle trek with leaches and endless rain which I climbed in 2001;  Tasmania – Mt Ossa, which I climbed in 2010 and Mt Bimberi in ACT which I climbed in about 2002.    The remaining two are Mt Zeil in Northern Territory (a bit more of a logistical challenge as you need to arrange permission from national parks and a local station manager) and Mt Woodroffe in South Australia which the local indigenous people allow to be climbed only once per year as a participant in an organised tour.
mt meharry summit panorama
A north eastern panorama from Mt Meharry.   The dust to the east comes from Rio Tinto’s West Angelas iron ore mine.
mt meharry summit distances
An informal distance post on top of Mt Meharry.   Both Jakarta and even Singapore at about 3250km are closer than Sydney

2 thoughts on “Karijini National Park – Dales Gorge and Mt Meharry

    1. Lovely to hear from you. We are in a place right up your alley! We are in Dampier and in a few days it’s the “RED DOG” festival. It’s a huge doggie affair. That red dog is all this town has let me tell you! M


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