Our first night in Karajiji was insanely humid, we just about finished cooking and eating before we were engulfed in complete darkness, but just before we lost the light, we saw a pair of dingos trot casually past. The tropics then served up an impressive lightning storm – I think there was even ball lightning that night. Sunset seemed to drive the humidity up and sleeping was pretty much a case of lying still trying not to let any body part touch any other body part, while the dingos howled outside. Sleeping bags were only useful as a barrier between the body and the rubbery airbed.
We had consulted the camp hosts when we arrived, and they had given us a lot of information – so we sprang (or slopped) out of bed the next morning and drove round to Mount Bruce (either some other people got up even earlier, or they free camped there. They seemed to be starting to wake up at that moment, so we started our walk to try and get ahead of them). We’d been expecting the temperature to hit 40 degrees by mid morning and force us to abandon our walk without reaching the top. I don’t know if it did, but we managed to reach the summit, which included a climb up a flue in the rock face, without expiring of heat exhaustion. We met some people as we headed down; they might have expired of heat exhaustion, but they seemed confident. At various points along the walk, we could see the mine complex at Marandoo, with enormous trains heading in and out all day long.
As we arrived back at the car, a minor whirlwind whipped up the dust and rubbish in the carpark – just another bit of northern WAs wild weather.
The land around Mount Bruce stretches away red and flat, and after a good mornings climbing above it, a dip was in order. Karajini has lots of pools, and they’re cool enough to refresh, and warm enough to be comfortable. They also don’t have crocodiles in, despite this being tropical northern Australia. There’s no access from the sea, and its quite a long way inland. We still seemed to have some energy left, so we headed down into Weano Gorge to Handrail Pool. This is one that you need to climb down to, with a helpful handrail. We had more fun at Hancock gorge though. I slipped and had to swim along holding our bag above my head to keep it dry, while I got soaked. There are a series of pools in this gorge, but signs and ropes discourage going too far. I also found the pools got progressively colder, hopefully not due to people weeing in it!
After another sweaty night, we oozed out of our tent and hauled ourselves to Fortescue Falls – essentially for a wash, although the falls were pretty cool too.
The walk back along the bottom of the gorge led us past some big lizards…
…and small lizards…
…to Fern Pool for another bath.
After lunch we high-tailed it through the Pilbarra to 80 Mile Beach, but more on that later!