Karijini National Park to Tom Price

Kalbarri, WA

April 16, 2005

5:45 pm

Breezy, cool, "fine"

G'day mates, 

I began writing this letter two days ago, in Denham, at the Heritage Resort, sitting on my second floor balcony watching the sun set on Shark Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today I am in Kalbarri at the Lola-Rose Bed & Breakfast, again sitting on a very broad second floor balcony watching the very same sun set into Gantheaume Bay at the mouth of the Murchison River.  The river begins its winding journey 750kms east of here in the Robinson Ranges and flows through the Outback, eventually slicing deeply into the brittle red granite to the Bay and the Indian Ocean.

My fortnight counter-clockwise drive in the northwest portion of Western Australia ends tomorrow in Perth on the southwest coast. 3530 Kilometers or about 2200 miles.

All that driving and only one speeding ticket. The copper clocked me yesterday doing 129 (80 mph) in a 110 zone (68), the Max in Oz. (JEB, where are you when I need you?) Cost me AUS $100.00 and one "Demerit Point." I felt like I was back in fourth grade and sent to the "principal's bench" at PS 73.

I hope I learned my lesson as I rally back to Perth and then to the southwest coast for one final week.

I reckon I last wrote to you from Radio Hill Lookout in Newman, so let's "saddle up" and head west, just like the Murchison River, through the mountains and the desert to the coast.

The winding road from Newman, through Karijini National Park, to Tom Price was long, lonely and splendidly mountainous. Mt Newman, Pamelia Hill, Giles Point, Mt Ella, Mt Hilditch, Padtherung Hill, Goondewanna Hill, West Angela Hill, The Governor, Mt Meharry, Mt Mossenson, Mt Windell, Mt Howieson, Mt Oxer, Mt Bruce, Marandoo Hill - the shapes are as varied as the names.

Cylinders, cones, flat tops, trapezoids, saddle backs, undulating shrub-covered red hills scattered and towering over the forbidding Outback. Mountains pushed up and inexorably worn down by wind and rain.

In Karijini National Park I found my way to Dales Gorge. Great spot. A rocky path makes a short, sharp descent into the gorge and the Circular Pool. From the opposite side a few daring kids were diving from a ledge into the pool below. Not this kid.

I followed an Aussie couple through the trees to the Fern Pool. They were prepared with proper "bathers." I stripped down to my "knickers" and jumped in. We swam about 75 meters to the warm falls, the water dropping a few hundred meters on to our heads. Delightful.

I missed several other gorges in the park. They are all on unsealed roads. Next time I will rent a JEEP.

I spent the night in Tom Price (pop 3400), a town named for an American steel executive who encouraged the development of iron-ore mining in this area.

The next day, a very long drive through Paraburdo and Narutara to the coast and Exmouth. 575 kms.


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