Kms travelled: 3878
- Kermit’s Pool is probably my all time favourite place on earth
- Saw my first ‘uncommon’ flower, a Giralia, after a particularly tough climb out of Circular Pool
- Found my USB-to-mini-USB cord, HOORAY
- Toe is better, blinker has spontaneously repaired, Karijini Eco resort is awesome
- Rear view mirror fell off. Thanks, corrugations
- Auski roadhouse had no coffee. OMG. Also is called Auski, which sounds like a Government-funded ski program
- I think a bikie left a number for me….
Karijini. This was a big thing on my ‘to-do’ list for this trip. Come to think of it, it was one of the only things on the ‘to-do’ list. But to go in, it meant sending Zeus to dog-jail for a night. After much consideration and a call to mum, I booked in to the Karijini Eco Resort so I could maximise my time in the park (no set-up and pack-up) and minimise Zeus’s time spent behind bars. This meant leaving the trailer and all my kit in Tom Price and heading into the park with just a pair of togs, a camera and a change of clothes.
This behaviour caught the attention of my Tom Price neighbours, Pam and David. I had met them upon arrival, as follows:
David, looking up from his book: “Do you need a hand putting up the tent there?”
Me: “No, I’ve got it under control.”
David: “Are you sure? I can get my wife out to help you…”
And thus the endless stream of one-liners that David would come up with began. Pam was keen to read my blog and I was amused to lean she had interpreted “Coffin Cheaters” as a new term for Grey Nomads.
Pam, if you’re reading this, Coffin Cheaters are bikies, but you may like the term for Grey Nomads that is proffered here at Pardoo Station: Coffin Dodgers.
I also learned David and Pam had flown over Purnalulu in a chopper piloted by the very wonderful Bridget Colby, check her adventures out on Instagram.
My first stop was Fortescue Falls at Dale’s Gorge where, as a six year old, I first voluntarily put my head under water and my younger sister started swimming… So advanced, just like her daughter Frankie.
To get there, the Jeep endured 30kms of severe corrugations, and it was about halfway through when the rear-view mirror lost the will to hold on and clattered onto the dash. The upside being when I reached the turn off, said corrugations had worked magic on my errant indicator and it was blinking faultlessly.
Eh, swings and roundabouts.
As I pulled into the Fortescue car park I let out an involuntary laugh as I literally had to brake to avoid driving into…. the Coffin Cheaters. Again.
As I got out of the car and prepared to hike, they called out: “Where’s Zeus” so I explained the local bylaws governing National Parks which prevent domesticated pets from accompanying their owner, regardless of how awesome they are.
“That’s a bullshit rule,” they replied.
I was so frazzled I actually forgot to put the GoPro in my backpack, so I got the whole way down to the falls – at least equivalent to a couple of Jacob’s Ladders – only to have to turn around and leg it back to the car park again. The good news was, I was ready for a swim by then.
I walked the Fortestue-Circular pool which I did with Dad in 1992 when there was no recognisable path. There is now and it was a lovely walk, Circular Pool is the sort of place I could just stay. I managed to get up under the falling water before the ranger turned up and pointed out the ‘no climbing’ signs…. I’ve never been good with signs. In fact I was the only person swimming when a new bunch arrived and they decided to swim also. I warned them that it was a little cool but they said:
“But you look so happy”.
And I was.
Back along the top, back down to Fortescue Falls and then 300m along was Fern Pool. I didn’t remember it from last time but it was lovely. You could (without warning signs) climb up behind the water fall and look out at the world.
“Good times 040- — —“. (Yes the phone number was clear, no I’m not posting it on a blog.”
I could only presume one of my leather-clad acquaintances had decided perhaps to try his luck, or was pranking someone else. Either way, weird. Back along the corrugations (Jorien, a few Wrangler owners discussed optimum procedure and decided slightly flattened tyres at 60kmh was best for avoiding the bumps) and on to Karijini Eco Retreat where I had this tent to myself:
Barramundi and cheesecake for dinner and by the time I got to the car, I was horrified to discover it wouldn’t click into gear. My mind catastrophised: I’d never make it to Sydney, I’d have to sell the car for scrap in Tom Price. After resolving that sleep and a clear head would be better suited to dealing with disaster, I walked back to my luxury tent and left the car at the restaurant.
Morning came and I missed Zeus so got up and walked Joffre Falls. It is the closest to the accommodation and was a good little 45-minute Rock scramble.
Afterward, a bit dusty but in a better frame of mind, I loaded up the car thinking about the (very small) amount of things I knew about cars. I put the car into reverse, came to a full stop, pushed it into drive and it WORKED. Over a celebratory coffee the chef deduced the Jeep may have had a bit of a 4WD-to-2WD hissy fit (my fault) and had got trapped in neutral and what I’d done was the perfect remedy. This was later reinforced by Jarvo who had called with advice on how to reattach the rear view mirror.
A very relieved version of me jumped in the red chariot and we took of for Weano a Gorge,home of Kermit’s Pool and the more famous Handrail Pool. I tackled Kermit’s first and if Circular Pool is my happy place, Kermit’s is my favourite.
A couple of Norwegian rock-monkeys climbed past while I was swimming, playing ‘don’t touch the ground’ and climbed out well beyond the “stop here” sign – apparently I’m not the only one with sign comprehension issues. The pic of me doing the spider walk was taken by an Irish girl who lives in Pannawonica, who recommended my last push North should be to Pardoo station before I rebound back southward.
It was a good recommendation and it’s where I’m writing from today.
After lunch spent talking to my first other solo 30-something traveller – a Spaniard taking a career break from marketing – I walked Weano Gorge and in to Handrail Pool. The colours were, well:
Down into Handrail pool, so called because it has a rail, and I helped a trio of Japanese characters in thongs and bikinis negotiate the climb. The pool itself didn’t speak to swimming but rather reflection.
Sadly I was heading North and my new solo-travelling friend was heading South but perhaps we’ll cross paths again. Back into Tom Price and to reward Zeus for his night locked away I took him to a dog park.
It’s a fully fenced-in specially designed park, just for dogs – right next to a fully fenced-in specially designed park just for children.
Frankly I think the dogs needed more play equipment. However we lucked in, there were 10 dogs including a GREAT DANE PUPPY that I think both Zeus and I were equally excited to meet.
Zeus and I were last to leave Tom Price after a nice long walk in the morning during which we discovered Rio Tinto owns everything.
This whole trip has been fuelled on. Oranges, coffee and Golden Gaytime ice cream so duly topped up, we hit the road for our longest one-day drive yet to the bottom end of 80-mile beach at Pardoo. It was a stellar drive across to the Great Northern Highway and up to Auski where I live-blogged about the failure of said roadhouse to provide real coffee and a managed to snap a nice bit of a perspective shot:
Pardoo is a nice spot to stay although the ‘beach’ is more huge mudflat due to epic tide, but Zeus loves it and as a part-time seacomber, I have found I quite like it as well. today marks the start of the school holidays and apparently it will be busy tonight, so if it gets a bit much we’ll start the treck back tomorrow, otherwise might spend another day lazing about swimming, eating home-cooked fish buffet, solving the problems of the world with Tina The Finn who works here, and running around on the mud flats.
After all, it’s nice and warm.