Aus Update 15 - Newman & Karijini NP


23th September 2006 - Newman is solely a mining town.  Mt Whaleback is the main local mine, run by BHP.  As we have discovered before BHP have to be the biggest, and true to form Mt Whaleback is the largest opencut iron ore mine in the world.  We have wondered if maps keep up with the disappearing height of the mountains around here.  We decided to move onto the quiet of Karijini NP today and only stopped briefly at the visitors center which was one of the best we have seen so far.  They had a large outdoor display of mining and farming equipment from the last century.

Check out the size of the radiator!

There were a few welded sculptures too.

We were a little disheartened when we travelled the 200km to Karijini and stopped at the visitors center, which we have found usually always provides a flushing toilet in a reasonable state of cleanliness, and found their pump was broken and their toilet was out of action!  They directed us a few kms down the road to a long drop. Yay!  A very nice visitors center nonetheless.  We headed to the Dale camping area and after finding our alotted camping site went for a walk around the beautiful gorges and waterfalls in the area.

This is called Circular Pool.  You can't see it very well in this photo but the waterfall is seeping from the rock just above the pool. It is very beautiful.

24th Sep - We saw more gorges and waterfalls, far more amazing than the ones the day before.  This park has a scale that they rate their walks by.  The relatively easy ones are colour coded and they have a rating from 1 to 6.  One was easy and wheelchair access. They continued from there being 2 has some steep steps but well defined pathway. Rating 3 was where the path way was not well defined, moderate level of fitness required. I forget the exact details of a rated 4 trail, but 5 was high level of fitness, must be self-sufficent, walking track not well defined.  Then came the rated 6 walks, none were listed in the brochures, it said 'Please see staff at visitor center.'  It went on to say that abseiling equipment was required and you could only attempt them if you had a nationally accepted qualification in abseiling and rock climbing.  Needless to say we didn't do any of the rated 6 walks, although I think they would be amazing we would need to do some prepartion for that.

We liked this guy.

The last picture there is one of the four gorges that meet at Junction Pool.  This place was really amazing and you just can't capture it in a photo.  As a side point there are plenty of warnings about flash flooding in these gorges and not standing too close to the edge. The rocks are very unstable and breakup easily, they look like a stack of bricks about to fall.  Here at Junction Pool lookout was a plaque that is a sober reminder of this.  In April 2004 some tourists went past what their abilities could handle in these gorges and the SES was called in. (For those not in Aust, SES stands for State Emergency Service. They are like the fire service or ambulance but they specialize in rescuing people from accidents. It is a volunteer service.)  So a team of SES went down in the gorge to help these people out and while they were there a flash flood occured and washed them down the gorge.  A volunteer SES officer by the name of Jim Reagan died in this flash flood.  They found his body in the gorge below this lookout.  They have renamed one of the pools in the gorge after him, and have placed a cross by the lookout to remind people of the dangers of the gorges.

As I mentioned before the state of WA is known for its wildflowers.  If you like flowers this is the place to holiday. I started wanting to photograph all the different flowers I saw...yeah right!  There are far too many.  Here are just a couple.

We drove on to Tom Price which I am going to put into another update because the laptop battery is running low. We are on our way out of town now so sorry you will have to wait for us to be back in civilisation for the next instalment.