Fern Pool, Karijini, Pilbara
Fern Pool, Karijini National Park, Western Australia by landscape photographer Richard Smyth – Wild Earth Images
Karijini National Park is a vast wilderness area in the Hamersley Range of Western Australia. In the park’s north, Oxer Lookout has views of the Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre gorges. At the edge of Weano Gorge, a trail leads to Handrail Pool. To the east are the red rocks of Dales Gorge and the cascades of Fortescue Falls. Indigenous wildlife includes Australian goshawks, ring-tailed dragons and desert tree frogs.
Covering 627,422 hectares just north of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Hamersley Range, Karijini National Park is Western Australia’s second largest park.
Its climate can best be described as tropical semi-desert. A highly variable, mainly summer rainfall of 250–350 mm, often associated with thunderstorms and cyclones, is accompanied by temperatures frequently topping 40 degrees Celsius. The ideal times to visit the park are late autumn, winter and early spring. Winter days are warm and clear, but nights are cold and sometimes frosty.
Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. The high plateau is dissected by breathtaking gorges, and stony, tree-lined watercourses wind their way over the dusty plain. Erosion has slowly carved this landscape out of rocks that are over 2,500 million years old.
The park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. Evidence of their early occupation dates back more than 20,000 years. During that period, Aboriginal land management practices, such as ‘fire stick farming’, resulted in a diversity of vegetation types and stages of succession that helped determine the nature of the plants and animals found in the park today.