Pilbara - Karijini National Park - Dales Gorge May 9 -11 2018
  As we head north towards the Karijini National Park entrance we notice Acacia (Mulga) again.

We expected mountains. We find mountains with more of the wide plain between them.

  The road north crosses Marillana Creek on a very large bridge, with the approach road built very high.

The creek flows to the east, into, you guessed (or I hope you did), Weeli Wolli Creek.

  They are described as whalebacks.
  Lots of them.
  With the occasional flat topped mountain.
  The park has a tank. With bore water.

Lots of signs about boiling, or chemical treatment required. So we added our normal chlorine.

Easier for us to fill buckets and pump than to connect the tank directly.

We needed about 90 litres to refill to 240 litres. Usage is consistent 14 litres/day. Showers tonight. Its nice knowing we can refill on the way out.

We struggled a bit to read the info at the office. Too dark and too much backlighting to comfortably read. But we paid for camping - credit card at the office, easier than cash at campsite reception.

We have been allocated campsite 99 at Dales campground. There are 140 sites, plus an overflow area. We are well away from the "generators welcome" area.

  A lazy day really. Having arrived about 11 am we decided to wait until the sun was going down before looking at Dales Gorge.

A brief visit by a Red-Capped Robin. It kept its safe distance. Brilliant colours.

Apparently uncommon, but seen often around the campground.

A small robin. Appropriate to an arid land.

Mobile phone here is Optus. Looks like the same trick as at William Creek. Provide limited coverage and provide the park office with sim cards. All very bizarre, some of the rest areas on the main roads have free wifi. Our magic 5m pole failed to get a Telstra signal. We'll use the satphone for letting daughters know where we are.

  And please don't forget Mrs Robin.
  Probably a grey fronted honeyeater.

There was an elusive flock of about eight.

  Dales Gorge. "Three Ways Lookout". From the left water flows from the Circular Pool. From the right water flows from Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool. To the front the gorge leads south east before turning north towards the Fortescue River. Somewhere along that route is the wonderfully named, but totally inaccessible (to us), Wingermoonther Pool.

In the morning we'll walk along the top of the gorge to our right, descend into its bowels to visit Fern Pool, walk back along the bottom of the gorge to Circular Pool, then extricate ourselves by walking up a convenient track to the top. Thence back to the truck. Easy ....

This is about 5pm, another half hour before the light completely disappears. We'll set off early in the morning so the light is (we hope) good.

  Circular Pool. It was deep in shadow earlier in the day. Now its just deep.

The last of the swimmers have just left. They appeared as ants next to the pool. Apparently the water is "fairly cold".

We know how it formed, as water eroded the weaknesses in the rock. And we can see where the waterfall is when water flows (the cleft on the left). But we can also look at a map and convince ourselves the longest bit of creek feeding the waterfall is only about 10 km long. And intermittent.

The Hamersley Range has more or less the oldest rocks on earth. Though the gorges are a geologically recent addition. The climate used to be wet. There was rain forest.

  Up early in the morning. We watched the sun climb above the horizon and its light begin to flow into the gorge.
  The gorge is about 350m wide at the top.

A bit hazy, which we found a tad surprising.

Sun is rising in front to the left.

  We are walking along the northern rim, westwards, towards the Fern Pool end.

This, and previous pic, are looking back (east).

  A first view of Fortescue Falls.

Just about too much sun giving too much contrast for pics.

  We descended down a very solid, robustly over-engineered (held together with 15mm bolts), stairway.

Helped by a few cypress pines.

  Getting closer to the falls, halfway down the stairs.
  The end of the road for marked tracks.

Fern pool.

  We haven't seen, or heard, many birds.

But we did hear the bats as the sun woke them.

A colony.

  Life starts precariously in the gorge.

We imagine in a hundred years this will be a big tree.

We are walking east through the bottom of the gorge.

  Not a stalagmite. Just eroded to form a pillar.
  No climbing!
  "little pink flowers" that remind us of peas. Next to the reeds.

Hard to take a pic of where the gorge heads north from the junction.

  Circular Pool from the bottom of the gorge.

The banded iron formation is around the pool. Looks like quartzite above that.

  Some water seeping from the rocks. Between the two different rock types.

Enough to keep the pool full, with an overflow down the gorge.

The gorge is deeper where the two branches meet, the upper rock is the same thickness, more of the banded formation is exposed in the gorge bottom.

  One of the few birds we saw. We somehow expected more. We must develop even more patience.

A painted finch among the spinifex at the edge of the gorge.

  Light just reaching tops of trees around the Circular Pool.

And people. There for a swim. Around 9am.

About 100m below us.

We met a few early morning walkers, but fewer parties than the fingers on my hand.

The steps out of the gorge challenged our legs, whereas the steepness of Mt Meharry challenged our lungs.

  About 8 km and three hours by the time we'd included walking from campsite to gorge (the longest stretch) and the two ends into Fern and Circular Pools.

We are now calibrated in what to expect from "class 4" tracks.

Back on the plain, termite mounds and snappy gum recovering from fire.

Back to the truck for second breakfast and a day of dossing. The cooling breeze (stiff wind) is welcome. The temperature at the truck is around 31, it will rise to 32 deg C. Maybe the late risers in for a swim have the right idea.

  Too well camouflaged for us to identify. Its much easier if the birds have more distinctive colours and markings. We briefly ponder if they are immature chats.

It was pre-occupied with its food, and fully trained to ignore humans.

There are lots around the campground. Along with finches, cuckoo shrikes, spinifex pigeons, magpie larks, and the ubiquitous wagtails.

Our identification of cuckoo shrikes is being challenged as there are a couple of larger grey birds we see occasionally. We haven't seen them fly far, they behave a bit differently to the smaller grey birds with distinctive flight and wing shape.

  Plus a couple of variegated fairy wrens which took us by surprise and moved on quickly.

The "usual" small flock.

  Seemingly impossible to find in the camera, they are so small and so wonderfully camouflaged.

Occasionally one stands still long enough. A female.

  Another early morning start. Which never seem early enough.

We can't decide if its the same variety of spinifex in different stages, or different varieties.

Spinifex is "tussocky". There are gaps between the tussocks, which makes for relatively easy walking.

  Circular Pool.

From an unusual angle?

The swimming hole below the waterfall is hidden by the trees.

The lookout is difficult to distinguish, but is somewhere on the lip of the gorge on the left.

  Looking south east into Dales Gorge. The bit we didn't walk through yesterday, that the Fern Pool and Circular Pool legs flow into.

I keep repeating the topography to myself so as to become more familiar.

And perhaps a bit of knowing the way home.

  And further south east, looking even further south east. To before Dignam Gorge enters and Dales Gorge turns north.

We are guessing Dignam Gorge enters from the right, the south west, beyond the bend in the middle of the pic.

So now, back in the luxury of the truck we are mentally kicking ourselves for not walking another couple of km there and back - the sun would probably have been illuminating both sides of Dignam Gorge.

We may never know .....

But then again. Seven km is probably enough for our ageing bodies for one day. We remain grateful we can walk that far, and pleasantly surprised we are able to repeat the exercise the next day.

  Gordon Falls, in the bottom of the south east flowing gorge.

About as far as we walked. There are no recent tracks on the north east edge of the gorge.

We found a few rusty tins, a beer bottle, a couple of pieces of corrugated iron, and a stretch of old vehicle track with a tree growing in the middle. Further from the edge of the gorge than we walked looks like an old airstrip on satellite pics.

In 1978 I was travelling in an ex Sydney Taxi, 2 speed automatic Holden Kingswood. My recollections are hazy but I recall trying to reach this plain on what we considered reasonable dirt roads. I'll have to revisit the photos I took back then.

  Looking into the west-east bit of gorge that we walked through yesterday. Fern Pool is near the far end. Possibly round the corner to the left a bit, though our maps don't have sufficient detail to know there's a branch, but we recall detouring around a shallow creek.

"Three Ways". The cream coloured fence of the "Three Ways Lookout" is on the far right of the pic, on the lip of the gorge.

Below and to the left of the lookout is the steep track up which we disengorged ourselves after our gorge bottom walk yesterday.

Circular Pool is out of the pic to the right, south east branch out of the pic to the left.

  Still interested in termite mounds. The top left looked newer than bottom right which looked like it had been eroded a bit by rain.
  Today's last look at the gorge (looking south east from "three ways".

That magic moment, just as the sun dips below the horizon and the world glows.

Pilbara - Karijini National Park - Weano and Hancock Gorges May 12 - 14 2018

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