The Pilbara: Red dust, trees, rocks and holes in the ground


Apr 26, 2012
This was a long awaited trip back to our favourite red corner of Australia. Where I met and married the wife then popped out a couple of kids. Time to take our 17yo son back to where he all began. Six hours in a Qantas jet from Sydney across the country to Karratha, Western Australia. First stop Red Dog in Dampier.

130704 Red Dog (1 of 1).jpg
For those that have seen the fictionalized account of Red Dog’s life. The dog was real, the town was real, and the statue in his memory is real.

A night’s rest then on the road to Karijini National Park where we were to “camp” for the next three nights and hike as many gorges as we could. A few miles of pavement then 200 miles of dirt road, eating dust and mostly following a long straight railroad.

Pilbara Roads by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Pilbara Iron Railway by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Karijini Eco Retreat by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Our first morning saw a beautiful sunrise over the Snappy Gums and Spinifex. This was the only time we had some cloud in what was normally a clear blue winter sky.

Karijini National Park by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Then we were off to visit gorge after gorge. Up and down cliff sides, stretching muscles that had become disused.

Dale’s Gorge

Snappy Gum on the ridge by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Circular Pool by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Fernery Pool by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Kalamina Gorge

Below Kalamina Falls by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Kalamina Creek by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Monitor by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Joffre Gorge sunset

Flocking cockatoos by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Knox Gorge

Knox Gorge Lookout by outtrimau5, on Flickr

From here on you need ropes, rappelling skills etc.

Knox Gorge by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Heading back upstream by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Hancock Gorge

Spider Walk by outtrimau5, on Flickr

The Ampitheatre by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Going down by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Kermit's Pool by outtrimau5, on Flickr

The Chute by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Son getting away upstream by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Between days we ate kangaroo and drank emu.

130706 Menu.jpg
130707 Post Hike.jpg

And froze in the tent as temperatures dropped into the 40’s overnight.

Heading on from Karijini we stopped by Witttenoom, a mining town that refuses to die despite the mine shutting down in 1966 and the state’s best efforts to erase any trace of the blue asbestos industry. Once the Pilbara’s biggest town they turned off the water and power about 20 years ago, bulldozed and buried all they could, and delisted the name in 2007. But some people have lived here for so long now they don’t want to be anywhere else. It has gotten very hard to reach the mine and the signs do say bad idea so we only made it half way up the gorge.

Doc Hollidays Cafe by outtrimau5, on Flickr

by outtrimau5, on Flickr

From here the dirt road heads back towards the coast and the next roadhouse 260 miles away.

The road to Nanutarra by outtrimau5, on Flickr

But we had other plans, other old friends to see, so off north to Port Hedland. Miles and miles of plains and spinifex with a paved road. The photography took a back seat to old times and beer.

The trip ended back in Karratha with our son’s curiosity about his beginnings satisfied, his eyes opened to the mining and gas industry, and a 1,000 miles on the rental. During one last sunset hike on the Burrup Peninsula looking for aboriginal rock art we stirred up this old man red kangaroo who coughed warnings to his harem, calling them up into the rocks.

Kangaroo by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Sturt's Desert Pea by outtrimau5, on Flickr

Featured image for home page:
I've got to ask . . . what is kangaroo meat like? I love the red cliffs and green trees. Great trip report!
WOW!! Amazing!!!
OK...that's it....I've got to get to Australia!!! That is a great place to meet your wife. Full of adventure and beauty. Thanks for the TR. You nailed it with those pics.

Love love love the pictures. Australia has always been on my list and this just proves it. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks everyone. My second trip report was a long time coming but I'm glad it was worth it.

Kangaroo meat? This was probably the first time I have had it when it hasn't been marinated and cooked beyond recognition. If I didn't know it was roo I would have believed it was beef and the piece I had was surprisingly very tender. I would have taken a photo of it but the phone was packed away for three days; three days of no cell reception :)
Beauty trip Noel. Must have been awesome to do this with your son. Nice set-up on the emu, as I thought you were talking about... (well I can't quite imagine what nasty emu drink you were having till I saw it.) Beer of course.
Beautiful pics. Now you have me intrigued on Western Oz. I figured if I ever got back, it would be north, up Queensland and N Oz to flyrod for barramundi. Hope I get another shot at visiting Down Under again. Nice report!
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