Karijini National Park
Directions - Dales Gorge can be found by taking Banjima Dr north from Karijini Dr (the eastern access point) and driving north until you reach the signs for Dales Rd. Follow Dales Rd and there are a few access points for the gorge you can take.
The Hike - With a full day checking out Weano Gorge and Kalamina Gorge the previous day we were back at it to continue on with the Karijini exploration. Given our experiences in the last couple of days we made a point to be up early and out to Dales Gorge to avoid the crowds and also get some shots when the sun was a bit lower in the sky. Arriving at the car park closest to Fortescue Falls we mapped out a loop trail that would allow us to see everything within Dales Gorge and allow for a relaxing swim at the end. The Dales Gorge area is actually a network of trails and side trips so there is no one named trail for what we did but rather a combination of the Gorge Rim, Dales Gorge, Circular Pool, Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool walks from the brochure.
As expected we were the only ones at the car park when we arrived just before 8am and the peacefulness was something of a welcome delight. The loop we had mapped out involved taking in the Gorge Rim walk first to take advantage of the lack of crowds and mainly because it wasn't terribly warm yet and having a swim at Fortescue Falls would have been an icy affair. The first of many viewpoints is a short walk from the car park and shows off the views down towards Fortescue Falls and along the main Dales Gorge walk trail. With Fortescue Falls being devoid of people it was a lovely sight and I couldn't wait to have a closer look a bit later on. Taking the path leading to the east I noticed a few wildflowers that we hadn't seen in the previous couple of days.
This was a nice surprise as I had been expecting some Desert Pea and Mulla Mulla but to find different varieties was fun and naturally I had to photograph them. The trail snakes its way along the edge of the gorge walls and you are treated to some spectacular views across the landscape to the distant hills. This is one aspect of Karijini I will never tire of, the vast horizons filled with Snappy Gums, Spinifex and rolling hills of red dirt. With the gorge starting to see its first rays of light streaming in over the cliff walls, the cluster of trees lining the stream running through Dales Gorge was an impressive sight. We would eventually get to walk amongst those trees but for now I was quite content to soak up the red dirt paths and photograph the distinct Snappy Gums with their bright white trunks rising from the earth in a mangled manner.