Karijini National Park
By Johann A Melvill
January 3, 2012
I enjoy taking the car, hitching the camper trailer and heading off into the bush for a few days. Add to this a digital camera and the weekend usually ends up a success. A six week tour my wife and undertook in 2011 resulted in us travelling some 12,000 km through Western Australia (WA).
Living in Perth, Western Australia (WA) the challenge is to see as much of the state with a size of 424,517 square km as possible. One of the stops along the way was at Karijini National Park.
This HDR is an almost true representation of the sun on the red rocks of the Pilbara region. The Pilbara is well known for red soil. We found that the red dust stuck to our clothes and was difficult to wash out.
Karijini is well known for its spectacular gorges. The red rocks change colour as the day progresses with sunset often giving magnificent colouring to the rocks. Most of the gorges have a running stream in winter. In summer it turns into raging torrents.
The Pilbara region falls in the summer cyclone region. This and the intense heat of regular over 40°C becomes a hazard for tourists. Winter is the time to visit the northern regions of WA. The “grass” in the foreground is known as spinifex – a hard spiky leaf.
This panorama gives a glimpse of the flatness of the surrounding area. The Pilbara's red soil comes from the high iron ore content of the rocks. One of the main industries of the Pilbara is iron ore mining. This mining activity makes WA with its 4 million people the richest state in Australia. Federal taxes on the mines support other states that are struggling due to the economic slump.
All roads in the Park are unsealed. This is a further reason why the park is closed during the wet season. This photo shows the general vegetation in the area, unlike the tall trees found in the gorges. I mentioned sunsets earlier. With all the open pit mining in the region there is quite often a slight dust presence in the air. With sunset this enhances the sun's rays on the rocks giving them the beautiful colour.
Camping at Dales Gorge is the only option offered by the Park. However there is a luxury Eco Tourist Camp bordering on the park where those that do not like the camper’s lifestyle can stay. Campers are expected to bring their own water as there is a very limited supply near the campsite. Climbing down to the bottom of the gorges is normally rewarded with a lovely swimming pool.
This HDR gives another view of the red rocks and one of the many gorges. The park is about three days north of Perth with the nearest town, Tom Price, being 90km away. The towns of Newman, Tom Price and Nanutarra are major mining centres with Port Hedland being the main export harbour for the ore.
The vegetation in the gorges includes Mulga and Spinifex with some 50 varieties of Acacia, Eucalypts and Melaleuca. The fauna includes Euro (Rock Wallaby), dingoes, 133 species of birds, and 92 species of amphibians and reptiles. An interesting small animal is the pebble mouse. They build a burrow and surround the entrance with pebbles the size of large marbles.
On a hot day this water looks enticing but getting down to it is not that easy. The park has many tracks leading in and out of the gorges. Most of them are accessible for the normal hiker. However there are tracks that have been set aside for rock climbers giving them a different challenge.
The gorges eventually lead back to flatter country and also to the end of an enjoyable visit. For more information on our trip see the URL below.
These photographs were all taken using a Canon 1000D. I used manual settings as far as possible. I did however not experiment enough and will on a return trip in the future most probably use different settings.
About Johann A Melvill. I grew up in South Africa where my teacher father was a keen photographer. He was also the town’s unofficial photographer. I was taught the art of photography including developing and printing black-and-white photographs before I completed secondary school. At University I switched to colour slides of which I took many during my forages into the mountains. Later in my married life I unluckily switched to a fully automatic camera and soon lost the knack of focal lengths, aperture setting and all the good stuff. Twelve years ago we moved to Perth in Australia. It was here that I had the urge to get back to the nitty gritty of manual photography. I purchased a Canon 1000D and enrolled in a photography course. Al Mireau was the teacher and I soon got back into manual mode. The biggest problem I have at present is my eyesight not being what it should be resulting in often out of focus photographs.
My other passion is camping and travelling. Most of my photos I now take are on some or other travelling trip with the camper trailer hitched to the car.
For more information on the tour see: http://members.iinet.net.au/~melvill/files/kimberley.html
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