The Pilbara in the north-west of Western Australia is always associated with iron ore. And so it should. But not just because of the iron ore industry. This is a landscape formed 2,500 million years ago – yes, the statistic is accurate – and it owes its stunning rich red palette to all that iron ore.
The Karrijini National Park is one of the nation’s largest national parks and one of its most unique. Centred around the Hammersley Range, it is typically described as tropical semi-desert. And it is easy to see why.
Flat, except for where the range rises up, the landscape is a mix of red and dark grey, punctuated by a subtle range of green, much of it spinifex. This is rugged countryside, the surface littered with metal-rich stones of flint-like hardness.
But suddenly this flat, intensely beautiful desert landscape will come to an abrupt halt where it plunges sheer into deep gorges. Venture down and you find yourself in a tropical paradise of lush vegetation, crisply cold streams and ponds and a wonderful variety of birdlife.
Every gorge is different, but typically they will feature grand waterfalls and tropical swimming holes. The walls of the gorges tell their own story – of millions of years of layering of silica thrown up by volcanic explosions.
The ideal place for base camp is the Karrijini Eco Retreat. It has a range of accommodation from simple campsites to upmarket eco free-standing safari tents with their own bathrooms and toilets. The camp has a central facility where you can enjoy a meal, including continental or cooked breakfasts, as well as an alfresco licensed restaurant.
While you’re there, stop by the award-winning Karrijini Visitors Centre with its imaginative and informative displays explaining the geological and cultural history of the region.
Paul McGillick stayed at the Karijini Eco Retreat while on an expedition with New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, and Perth designers Adam Cruickshank and Nick Statham. There will be an exhibition at the FORM gallery in June next year as a result of this. Read about Adam in the next issue of Habitus 13, out 21 September.
Photography by Michelle Taylor
Bedroom photo courtesy of Karijini Eco Retreat
Karijini Eco Retreat