We’re Mitch & Jess, and welcome to our Karijini National Park guide! Being an adventurous couple, we decided to embark on a journey around Australia. We grew up in the southern region of Sydney (Sutherland Shire) and prior to this trip we spent two years living in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
We’ve been traveling around Australia for over nine months now – covering NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. This trip was at the top of our travel bucket-list ever since we met. We knew we would do it one day but there were a few reasons we decided now was the right time.
We were conditioned to work 9-5 jobs, buy a house, get married and have kids – but after losing grandparents and watching their health deteriorate, we realized how precious life truly is. We wanted to live our lives to the fullest and have no regrets. We also lost nearly three years of our life to the pandemic which left us eager to start exploring and, most importantly, we wanted to see our own country before exploring overseas. So what did we do? We set a date, quit our jobs and the rest is history!
Our Inspiration to Visit Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park had been on our list before we planned this trip. We had seen photos and videos on social media, and knew one day we would visit. Karijini is one of those places you won’t believe exists, especially in your own backyard. We’ve met so many travelers who have told us to go there, which just confirmed for us that it truly would be an incredible place.
The main drawcard for visiting Karijini was the hikes and the gorges. We would say we’re well seasoned hikers but nothing could prepare us for the hikes in Karijini. They were out of this world! Some sections had us scaling down the side of a steep rocky cliff, while others had us doing a spider climb through gorges over water. Not to mention waking up at 3am to hike up Mount Bruce and having sweeping 360-degree sunrise views.
The gorges of Karijini National Park were next level. We still don’t have the words to explain how incredible it is to stand in the gorges, surrounded by towering red cliffs and rock layers that were formed millions of years ago. In those moments we felt so small and insignificant, yet so powerful!
How Many Days Should You Spend in Karijini?
We spent three full days in Karijini National Park and for us this was the perfect amount of time. We are very adventurous and energetic, so we tend to smash out multiple hikes in a day. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, so we would recommend researching the hikes while planning your trip to allow enough time. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, you may want to allow extra days as it’s too hot to hike during the peak of the day.
We have friends who smashed out their favorite places in two days and also have friends who have taken a week to explore the park. Keep in mind that Karijini is in the middle of nowhere, so if you’re taking the time to drive you may as well take the time to explore the park properly.
Visiting Karijini National Park Independently
We explored Karijini independently and were successful in finding all the hidden gems on our own. The Karijini Visitor Centre is a fantastic resource for maps and information on what to see. The team were so helpful and accommodating to tourists, and the maps and signs are easy to follow.
If you’re traveling independently, without a tour guide, we would also recommend social media as a resource for finding hidden gems. Search the name of the place followed by “must sees” or “hidden gems” and you’ll be sure to find other travelers who have posted about the best gems.
5 Best Places to Visit in Karijini National Park
1. Knox Gorge
This short but steep hike in Karijini National Park will have you rock scrambling down the side of the gorge followed by a leisurely stroll through the towering red rocks. This was easily one of the most scenic gorges, and it had incredible tall rocks and the option for a refreshing swim in the gorge.
2. Kermits Pool
One of the most exciting hikes in the whole park is Kermits Pool. This challenging hike requires walking through water, spider climbing through a narrow canyon and climbing down steep ladders. It’s worth every step to cool off in the stunning turquoise pool surrounded by rock formations.
3. Hamersley Spa Pool
This plunge pool is at the top of everyone’s Karijini bucket list and it’s easy to see why. The rock formation at Hamersley creates a natural spa complete with a trickling little waterfall. Visiting this pool around midday offers the best lighting, with the sun giving it a gorgeous turquoise color.
4. Mount Bruce
Let’s start by saying kudos to anyone who has done this hike or to anyone planning to do it, because it’s definitely not for the faint hearted! This 10 kilometer hike will take you over the ridge lines before two long stretches of steep rocky climbing. We started the Mount Bruce Hike at 3:30am to reach the top for sunrise and we must say this was the best way to do it!
You’ll beat the heat, miss the crowds and the view at sunrise is stunning. Watching the mountains and red cliffs light up is so special. It’s not recommended to do it in the dark – since there are steep sections where you’re on the side of a cliff and some of the rocks are slippery. With that being said, if you’re brave enough to do it, make sure you wear a head torch and pack extra batteries, plenty of water, and we recommend carrying a PLB incase of an emergency. This hike took us four hours in total.
5. Oxer Lookout
Oxer Lookout took us by surprise. With so many waterfalls, gorges and hikes in the park, we weren’t expecting to be blown away by a lookout. The viewing platform overlooks where massive canyons meet. It was incredible to look down into the gorges we were walking through earlier in the day. We stopped here before sunset and the colors were incredible.
Where to Stay at Karijini National Park
There are two paid campsites inside the park: Dales Campground and Karijini Eco Retreat. Dales is fantastic for exploring the east side – Fern Pool, Fortescue Falls and Circular Pool. Karijini Eco Retreat is the perfect base for Hancock Gorge, Weano Gorge, Knox Gorge and more.
If you have an off-grid set up and prefer to free camp, there are a number of free camps and rest stops outside the park. The closest town is Tom Price which has caravan parks, fuel and groceries. If you would prefer to base your day trips from outside the park, this would be the place.
Tips for Your Trip to Karijini National Park
The most important thing to consider before planning a trip to Karijini is the time of year. The best time to visit is March to May. This is directly after the wet season, so the waterfalls will be flowing and the swimming holes will be full. It’s also the most pleasant time for hiking as the days are not overly hot but still warm enough to cool off in the freshwater.
You can visit in other months but there are a few things to keep in mind. From June to August the temperatures can get rather cold, especially at night. While you can enjoy hiking in cooler temperatures, you may have to sacrifice swimming in the gorges unless you can brave the cold water.
From September to November it starts to heat up again. You’ll need to do hikes in the morning and late afternoon to beat the heat. At this time some swimming holes become stagnant and unsuitable for swimming, and occasionally the park will close certain hikes and swimming spots.
Be sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes, as the hikes are incredible and you’ll be disappointed if you miss them due to sore feet or blisters. Carry plenty of water on the hikes. Book the campsites prior to arrival to avoid missing out. Coming into summer there’s no shortage of flies, so don’t forget to pack a fly net. Karijini is essentially in the middle of nowhere, so if you’re taking the time to drive out here make sure you allow sufficient time to explore the park. Last but not least, don’t forget your swimmers!
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy exploring Karijini National Park as much as we did. Be sure to follow our adventures on social media, as we love to share our photos and experiences. We’ve recently started a YouTube channel to share some of our adventures around Australia, including a vlog of our recent trip to Karijini, so be sure to check that out as well!