Mandu Mandu Gorge
Cape Range National Park
Directions - Located about 65km from Exmouth, head north out of town on Murat Road and take a left on Yardie Creek Road. Follow the signs for Cape Range National Park and keeping driving until you see the turnoff for Mandu Mandu Gorge on your left. Take the unsealed road all the way to the end where you will find an information board for the hike on the south side of the car park.
The Hike - With a day set aside to explore Yardie Creek and do the boat tour there, I thought it best to also add on a visit to Mandu Mandu Gorge as it was on the way back to Exmouth and we had plenty of time left in the day. With a nice introductory walk along the edge of Yardie Gorge, I was keen to see more of Cape Range and what it had to offer. Joining myself and Caris was Candy and Hal as they were also wanting to see as much as they could on our week long holiday.
Everything along Yardie Creek Road is well sign-posted so it wasn't hard to locate the turn-off for Mandu Mandu Gorge and the unsealed road was easily managed by our CH-R hire car. Unlike the Yardie Creek car park, this one only contained a handful of cars so it was fairly safe to assume we would have the trail to ourselves for the most part. Re-filling water bottles and bringing along our packed lunch, we left the car park and located the start of the trail. Being the dry season and a pretty cool day (the max temperature was in the mid-20s), it wasn't a big issue hiking during the middle of the day but if the forecast is for 30C or above then beware that it can get even hotter in the gorges and you should be well prepared with at least 3L of water and suitable clothing. It still felt pretty warm on our visit and with my nerdburger floppy hat on, we followed the signs and started the hike. I knew this was a loop trail but didn't notice an obvious fork in the path to decide if you wanted to go clockwise or anti-clockwise so in the end we just kept walking and did the anti-clockwise circuit.
This meant we would be tackling the dry creek bed section first and this was perfectly fine with me as I had planned to do this anyway. After a short linking trail that was bordered by some lovely wildflowers, you catch a glimpse of the pale coloured rocks that form Mandu Mandu Creek and where the trail eventually joins. The others had raced ahead while I hung back to photograph the early wildflowers that included a Cape Range Grevillea, a couple of varieties of Cassia and some form of Acacia that looked stunning up against the bright blue sky. Eventually you reach the rocky creek bed and so begins the crunchy walking where the ground starts shifting underneath your feet. It's hard to picture how much water it would take to make the creek flow as wide as the rocky area covers and given the heat this area experiences, I don't think it flows for very long. The last big downpour they had was in mid-June with 43mm falling and I would be interested to see if that had any effect on the creek levels.