All posts filed under: Places we went

Joffre Gorge Karijini Pilbara Western Australia

Joffre Gorge – Jijingunha

There is no doubt Joffre Gorge or Jijingunha is one of the most spectacular places in Karijini National Park. Located around 31 kilometres west of the Park’s Visitor Center, this is where the Joffre river plunges down in a natural amphitheatre. The falls can be reached by climbing down the narrow ledges and following the chasm, carved through the banded ironstone formations by the force of the water.   The hike as described is not unlike the journey iAMsafari has taken this year; sometimes easy, sometimes more difficult, but always rewarding and enlightening. Our next adventure will start in a few more days, therefore wishing you all the best for now and hoping to see you back in good health and spirit in the New Year!  

Fern Pool Jubura Karijini Pilbara Western Australia

Fern Pool – Jubura

Fern Pool or Jubura is the last of the major landmarks hidden in Dales Gorge. The trail that leads from Fortescue Falls is surrounded by relictual riparian vegetation, reminding the hiker of the humid and tropical climate that once occurred in the Pilbara. Ferns colour the surroundings a lush green while fig trees or Winyarrangu (Ficus brachypoda) slowly strangle the rocks that support them. After a strenuous hike, Fern Pool offers a rewarding swim to some or a peaceful oasis to others, while the noisy Flying Foxes or Warramurungga (Pteropus alecto) have made it their favourite hangout.

Fortescue Falls – Jubula

As the sun sets over Fortescue Falls, the only permanent waterfall in Karijini, the colours of the iron-rich rocks slowly change from bright red to a rusty orange hue. The contrast with the lush evergreen vegetation such as stiff leaf sedge (Cyperus vaginatus), white fig (Ficus virens) and ladder brake (Pteris vittata) couldn’t be much bigger.

Termite mound Karijini National Park Pilbara Western Australia

Termites – Grazers of the Savannah

In 1896 David Wynford Carnegie crossed the Gibson and Great Sandy Desert in search of good pastoral and gold-bearing land. In his account of the expedition, named Spinifex and Sand, Carnegie wrote of the landscape of this largely unexplored land: “There are two varieties of Spinifex known to bushmen – “spinifex” and “buck” (or “old men”) spinifex. The latter is stronger in the prickle and practically impossible to get through, though it may be avoided in twists and turns. There are a few uses for this horrible plant; for example it forms a shelter and its roots make good food for the kangaroo, or spinifex rat, from its spikes the natives (in the northern districts) make a very serviceable gum, it burns freely, serves in a measure to bind the sand, and protect it from being moved by the wind, and makes a good mattress when dug up and turned over.” The spinifex in Karijini (Triodia pungens) plays an important role in the arid ecosystem of the Park, being part of vast tussock grasslands that alternate with Accacia shrubland and open Eucalypt woodlands. As …

Dales Gorge Karijini National Park Pilbara Western Australia

Welcome to Karijini

Located around 1,400 kilometers north of Perth, in the dry and tropical Pilbara region, Karijini National Park is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas of Australia. This land, also known as the Hamersley Range, is situated between the Fortescue River in the east, and the mining and pastoral leases to the north and west – Wittenoom was the closest town to the Park, but regarding health risks related to blue asbestos mining it was closed down in 1994. Newman, Tom Price and Paraburdoo are the nearest towns today, all commercially focused on iron ore mining. In fact, iron-rich rocks are found in such abundance that the Hamersley Range is one of the world’s major iron ore regions, accounting for around 95% of Australia’s production. To conserve the cultural and natural integrity of Karijini, and protect its amazing landscapes from exploration and mining activities, Dales Gorge was the first area to be gazetted as National Park in 1969. Subsequent additions such as the Hamersley Gorge, excisions of land for mining, as well as rationalisation of boundaries …

Spinifex Plain Karijini National Park Pilbara Western Australia

Spinifex and Smoke

“We rose early, for we were eager to make contact with the man and the woman who had signalled us. Travelling almost due north of the bearing we had obtained the previous evening, we had gone eight kilometres when Mudjon called a halt and proceeded to fire the Spinifex once more.” – W.J. Peasley, The last of the Nomads As the sudden appearance of strangers could cause alarm amongst some of the Aboriginal groups that still lived a traditional way of life in the ’50s and ’60s, the practice of setting fire to clumps of spinifex when approaching an area possibly inhabited was adopted by most patrols and expeditions. Not only would the smoke announce your presence, it would also invite a reply. I have been of the grid for some time, consumed by urban life, coping with mundane matters. To avoid sudden surprise, I’ve chosen to signal some smoke by posting a picture of this spinifex-studded landscape in Karijini National Park, first in a series of posts long due!  

Sunset at Roebuck Bay seen from Broome Bird Observatory

Return from Roebuck Bay

Ngaji Gurrijin! We’re back from our wonderful adventure in Australia’s North West. Back from a long trip that brought us to the Yawuru country of Broome’s Roebuck Bay. Although we didn’t have the intention to drive all the way to this magic Kimberley destination, the abnormally wet conditions in the Pilbara left us with little options. With the prospects of some lovely dry tropical winter weather, and the chance to stay at one of the country’s most beloved wilderness destinations in mind, the decision for this 988 kilometres detour was easily made. No big deal, we were planning to drive 2,894 kilometres anyway! Mud and holiday-destinations are not easily associated, however, in the case of Roebuck Bay it’s an entirely different story. Sediments trapped in the bay are carried in by ocean currents, forming mud flats where the particles settle in quiet waters. Cyclones, heavy rain and wind further accumulate deposits, while big tides and a shallow sloping coast expose large parts of these intertidal flats. Extraordinary rich in invertebrate life, the flats provide the most important …

Munjina East Gorge Juna Downs Karijini Pilbara Western Australia

A long way up

Land Cruiser loaded and cameras packed; our long anticipated trip up north has started! Two days on the road have brought us to Port Hedland, last stop before our final destination Broome. With heavy rain forecasted on Tuesday, we postponed the visit to Karijini until we head back south again, however, the vistas we enjoyed at Munjina East Gorge were a perfect teaser.

Boranup forest Karri Margaret River Western Australia

Boranup forest

“While way    way up higher than the eye believes   the Karris   whose ancestors paved the streets of London bask sunrise    lemon and pink   in their solid new skin        and widen their hold on the sky” – Caroline Caddy, Esperance The colossal Eucalyptus diversicolor – commonly known by its Noongar name Karri – grows in the remarkable forests of the South West. With heights over 80 metres it’s not only one of the tallest trees in the world, it also provides dense and long-lived hardwood, used for the paving of roads in 19th century London. The majestic Boranup forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is what still remains of the once widespread Karri, and the 11km long drive is now one of the regions major attractions – a fine example of the importance of Eco-tourism!

Bluff Knoll Stirling Range National Park Western Australia

Stirling Range – Koikyenunuruff

The Dreaming is the beginning of time, when mythical spirits with supernatural powers rose up and travelled the once featureless wilderness, creating mountains, lakes, rivers, sea, stars and everything living on earth – and in the stories about the Stirling Range this is no different. The range is named after the first governor of Western Australia, but known as Koikyenunuruff by the Mineng and Koreng people who once lived in and around these ‘mist shrouded mountains’. Until today Noongar people believe the clouds covering Bluff Knoll or Bular Mial (the range’s tallest peak) are the ever changing visible form of a lonely, dead spirit called Noatch – and that’s why the sign at the bottom of the slope warnes climbers that ‘those who stray might get lost in her misty embrace’. Bluff Knoll therefore remains a place of great cultural significance for the traditional owners. Standing proud in an otherwise flat landscape, the Stirling Ranges are the only obstacle to weather from the Southern Ocean. The slopes and peaks therefore receive relatively high levels of rainfall, and the numerous combinations of …

Stromatolites Cyanobacteria Hamelin Pool Shark Bay Western Australia

The stromatolites of Hamelin Pool

It’s not a very long drive from the Overlander roadhouse to the old telegraph station of Hamelin Pool, but the dry shrub-like vegetation makes it a rather monotonous one. The barren landscape is an indication of the hot, dry and windy weather in this remote part of Western Australia, a place where summer temperatures average between 35 and 37 degrees Celsius. Those high temperatures create a very high evaporation rate that turns the shallow waters of Hamelin Pool extremely saline – twice as much as regular seawater to be precise. Under normal conditions this hyper-saline water would be diluted by the flow of fresh or low salinity waters, but in Hamelin Pool this is restricted by very low rainfall and a limited tidal flow. So what? Is salt water a good reason to stop in such a desolate corner of the world? Well, in Hamelin Pool it is as this environment is rather unique and one of the reasons why Hamelin Pool – and the whole of Shark Bay – is listed as World Heritage. …

Shark Bay Western Australia

Gutharraguda – Colours of Shark Bay

In my previous posts I have written about some of our inspiring encounters with the magnificent wildlife of Shark Bay. The Malgana people used to call this land ‘Two Bays’ or Gutharraguda – referring to the shallow waters of Hamelin Pool between Peron Peninsula and the mainland in the North and Henri Freycinet Harbour between Peron Peninsula and Dirk Hartog Island in the South. The old map of French navigator Henri Freycinet shows this piece of remarkable Australian shoreline best. Shark Bay is a unique area with vast beds of seagrass, forming massive meadows in the shallow and warm waters. Seagrasses provide both food and shelter for the stunning array of marine life, but also bind sediments moved in through tides and currants. Accumulated sediments have formed the numerous banks, sills and channels that have turned some of the bay’s waters hyper saline – the area around Hamelin Pool is twice as salty as the open ocean! Although hostile to many animals, the extreme salinity of Hamelin Pool forms the perfect habitat for Stromatolites – single celled …

Pinnacles Desert Nambung National Park Western Australia

Werinitj Devil Place – Pinnacles Desert

The Pinnacles Desert is situated in Nambung National Park, 250 kilometres north of Perth. This surreal landscape consists of numerous limestone pillars that rise out of the yellow sanded Quindalup dunes. The pillars have been formed by the leaching of calcium carbonate, dissolved from sea shell fossils by winter rains. As the calcium accumulated over thousands of years it formed a hard limestone rock. Westerly winds eroded the remaining surface of loose quartz sands, gradually exposing a forest of tree-like limestone statues. The discovery of Aboriginal artefacts suggests that the Pinnacles Desert was exposed around 6,000 years ago but has been covered by shifting sand again to remain hidden until only a few hundred years ago. Although there is no evidence of any recent human occupation there are several dreamtime stories surrounding the Pinnacles. The Yuet people call the pinnacles Werinitj Devil Place, a haunted place where young men were told not to go. The ones that disobeyed the elders vanished into the dunes with the pinnacles resembling their grasping fingertips, a handy lookout and …

Sable Hide Kruger Park South Africa

Sable Hide

The sky was cloudy as a front had moved in overnight. The unusual warm temperatures of the previous days had dropped dramatically and a cold drizzle started to come down. A light breeze stirred the Sable Dam water but the surrounding bushveld seemed motionless. Despite the rather chilly conditions and no clear signs of wildlife we were all very excited for things to come. Having stayed at Kruger’s bigger and busier rest camps on previous trips, this time we wanted to experience nature from a different angle. Fortunately the Park’s accommodation is very versatile, ranging from luxerious to basic and outright rustic. After six years of Aussie bush training we opted for the latter, booking nights at Maroela and Tzendze, sites designated to campers only. However, when we came across the opportunity to spend one night at Sable we grabbed it with both hands as staying in one of Kruger’s sleepover hides is the ultimate chance to be out in the African wilderness completely by yourself. Although the hide is fenced to keep animals out, knowing no one …