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Its climate can best be described as tropical semi-desert. A highly variable, mainly summer rainfall of — 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, million years old. It is closed from early December to early February each year.
It is a large campground with picnic tables and gas barbecues at the nearby picnic area and is a good base from which to explore the park. Campsites are in very high demand from June to September.
During this period a two-night maximum stay overflow camping area is in operation. Bookings are essential for Dales and the overflow. Traditional owners 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, years. Flora and fauna Wildflowers vary with the seasons. In the cooler months the land is covered with yellow-flowering cassias and wattles, northern bluebells and purple mulla-mullas.
After rain many plants bloom profusely. Karijini is home to a variety of birds, red kangaroos and euros, rock-wallabies, echidnas and several bat species. Geckos, goannas, dragons, legless lizards, pythons and other snakes are abundant. Look for large, striking termite mounds scattered throughout the hummock grasslands. Look out also for mounds of pebbles built by the Western Pebble-mound mouse but please do not disturb them.
Asbestos dust may cause cancer if inhaled. Gorges can be dangerous Stay back from cliff edges — they are about metres high, often with loose rocks near the edge. Flash floods can occur — do not enter gorges if there is rain in the area. If it starts raining when you are in a gorge, leave immediately.
Swimming Even though inland waterways look inviting, especially when the surface is calm, they pose many hidden dangers. Know the risks and how to swim safely. Deep, cold water The water in gorge pools can be extremely cold, especially between April and September; hypothermia can occur. Do not dive or jump into water. Extreme heat During summer, temperatures frequently top 40 degrees Celcius. Carry plenty of water at all times.
Dingoes Dingoes are common around the Dales campground. They may scavenge for food and can be aggressive. Do not feed dingoes, supervise children at all times, walk in groups and store food in your vehicle.
Getting there Much of the southern half of the park is inaccessible. Visitors concentrate on the spectacular gorges in the north, with their rock pools, waterfalls and unique wildlife.
Be aware that distances travelled can add up quickly when touring this park. A trip from Dales to Weano via the shortest route is about km return. Plan your visit carefully.
Karijini National Park
Map of Karijini National Park