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Ah beautiful, beautiful Karijini. How you amazed me, nearly froze me, but most of all, pushed me to get off my lazy butt and into my walking shoes. As someone who has always shied away from scrambling over rocks and wading through water, I was a bit anxious about our planned 2 day Karijini itinerary.
But honestly, it was incredible!
What Karijini has to offer is completely different from the other national parks I’d visited in Australia. It’s raw and rugged and challenging but so much fun. It’s definitely one of the best.
So if you’re planning a Western Australia road trip, do not miss Karijini off your itinerary! This 2 day Karijini itinerary is the perfect way to see the best things to do in Karijini, plus all the information you need to help plan your stay in the national park.
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Fancy seeing a bit more? Watch my Karijini vlog here:
How to get to Karijini National Park?
Karijini is located in the Northern part of Western Australia in the Pilbara Region. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive inland from Port Headland on the coast and its nearest town is Tom Price. Tom Price is a small town but it does have a supermarket and fuel station so you can get prepped before you go into the national park.
- Port Headland to Karijini – 3.5 hours,
- Karratha to Karijini – 5 hours
- Perth to Karijini – 14.5 hours
Karijini National Park Map
Karijini is the second biggest national park in Western Australia covering over 6,200 km square. The good news though is that it’s one of the most easily accessible national parks and the best things to do in Karijini are all fairly close together, making 2 days in Karijini a good amount to time to see a lot. You can download a map from the Tom Price tourism website or pick one up from the visitors centre there.
How much does it cost to visit Karijini?
Lots of the national parks in Western Australia have an entrance fee to contribute to the maintenance of them. A day pass for Karijini costs $15 per car, but if you’re planning on visiting lots of national parks in WA, I recommend getting a Parks Pass. A 4 week Park Pass costs $60 and you then have unlimited access to all the parks. You can buy them online and print the pass, or buy a pass from a number of outlets. Start dates can be selected in advance so you don’t have to waste time on your first day getting the pass and rushing to make use of it.
You can buy the pass online or find a convenient outlet online here.
How many days do you need?
How long to spend in Karijini depends on how adventurous you are. With it being the second biggest national park in WA, there are plenty of things to do but you can definitely see the best things to do in Karijini in 2 days.
Do you need a 4WD for Karijini?
Good news fellow 2WD campervanners – you don’t! Karijini is accessible for 2WD. If you’ve watched my Karijini vlog however, you will know that there is a fair bit of corrugation on the dirt roads, so prepare for a bumpy road trip for some parts.
What is the best time to visit Karijini?
Things can get really hot in Karijini with temperatures reaching 40 degrees celsius during summer. For a more comfortable road trip, visit between May and September where the day time temperatures are warm enough for a swim but you’re not going to get scorched by the sun. The evenings can get pretty chilly around this time of year though so bring plenty of blankets for the night.
Are there free campsites in Karijini?
There are! They are slightly on the outskirts of the park but Tom and I made use of them and built them into our Karijini road trip itinerary. Wikicamps is a must-have for any road trip in Australia as it shows you thousands of campsites, including free ones, all over the country.
The best campsite in Karijini
To be close to the best things to do in Karijini, I recommend paying to stay ar Dales Campground. It’s right near Dales Gorge so you can get up and not waste time getting to the top sites in the park. You’ll need to book online as it’s 1 of only 2 campgrounds in the national park. You can check availability and book through the Western Australia Government website here.
Your 2 day Karijini Itinerary
Day 1 – Dales Gorge
If you’re staying at Dales Campground, you can literally roll out of bed and walk to the start of the Dales Gorge Walk. The Circular Pools lookout is spectacular and gives a taste of what’s to come. Follow the trail from the Three Ways Lookout to go down into the gorge where you’ll get to see just how spectacular and vast it is.
From here you can walk through Dales Gorge to Circular Pools where you can take a dip. If you go early enough you might even get it to yourselves as we did! I was brave enough to jump in, but I’m not going to lie, the water was freezing!
The Dales Gorge walk is a really fun one. There are stepping stones to walk across, water crossings you might need to wade through, and there are the most incredible rock formations to see. The red rock of the gorge towers above you whilst ground level has a combination of natural steps and perfectly round boulders. It’s the contrast that makes it so spectacular!
The Dales Gorge walk joins onto the Fortescue Falls walk which funnily enough, leads to Fortescue Falls. And when I say it leads to the falls, I mean it leads to the falls! The trail climbs up the natural steps right next to the waterfall and it’s a great place to stop and take in the view and have a bite to eat.
Just a little further along on the Fortescue Falls train is Fern Pool. While Social Media might go mad for Circular Pool, I think Fern Pool is equally as beautiful. This place is sacred to the local indigenous people but you are allowed to swim here (just be respectful!) and enjoy it. There’s a pretty little waterfall at one side and a wooden platform with stairs for access. Another bonus is it definitely felt warmer than Circular Pool!
To finish day 1 in Karijini, walk back towards Fortescue Falls and you’ll find a staircase that leads up to the Gorge Rim Walk. This will take you along the top of Dals Gorge offering magical views of where you’ve just spent the day.
Day 2 – Weano and Hancock Gorges
Weano and Hancock Gorges are far more challenging than Dales, but even if you’re not particularly outdoorsy like me, it’s still doable and well worth the effort.
Take the hours drive to the Weano car park, the starting point for both of the gorges today. Weano Gorge is beautiful and most famous for the Handrail Pool – a natural pool where you will need to hold onto an almost verticle handrail to get down into.
Now, the perks of visiting out of the main season are that we had Handrail Pool all to ourselves. The downside though was that it was far too chilly to take a dip. And when I say the handrail is almost verticle, I mean it! Nonetheless, it’s one of the top things to do in Karijini national park, even if you don’t plunge in.
This is where you’ll be glad your in your swimmers and have a waterproof bag with you because there’s no hiking Hancock Gorge without getting wet. This is also where you’re going to be scrambling over rocks next to water until you probably give up and realise it’s easier to swim that bit (watch my vlog and you’ll know what I mean!)
Hancock Gorge is all about the Spider Walk that leads to Kermits Pool. Both are spectacular and I was so glad I pushed myself to do them. Give yourself 3-4 hours to get there and back so you can take your time. If you’re visiting in the cooler months, leaving this to the afternoon means you’re not going to be quite so cod getting in an out of the water.
The Spider Walk is where you’ll be doing all the scrambling and swimming the route instead of walking it. It typical Karijini style, It starts with a few water crossings to rock-hop over but then it gets to the point where you either cling on to the slippery cliff or you swim. It’s challenging but brilliant!
The end of the Spider Walk is even more challenging but the beautiful Kermits Pool at the end is worth it!
To finish off your 2 days in Karijini, take the drive over to Joffre Falls lookout. There is a hike here but after pushing ourselves pretty hard already, the lookout view was the more relaxing way to end.
Top tips for your 2 day Karijini itinerary
- Get a Parks Pass if you’re wanting to visit more national parks in WA
- Stay at Dales Campground for its convenient location
- Bring your swimmers, travel towel and a waterproof bag like this one
- Take plenty of water and snacks for the hikes
- Be prepared to climb, clamber and get wet!