Petroglyphs and gorges
6th September 2012
After leaving Port Headland we decided to go to the Burrup Peninsula to see if we could find any of the thousands of Aboriginal engravings that are supposed to be scattered across this whole region. Apparently this one of, if not the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the world. We had not really looked into where it is best to see them as we figured something so culturally significant would be easy to find and a major attraction of this area. Surprisingly and rather strangely there is very little information about them. They are mentioned in the tourist brochures about the area but only one sentence and nothing more about them – who did them, their meanings and importantly where to find them. We eventually found something online describing turning off the main road onto a secondary road then turning onto a second unmarked dirt road and having a look around, so we did. Once we got there we saw a small very old and faded sign saying Aboriginal Art, the rest was too faded to read. So we thought we would just have a look around and hope to see a few of the over 10,000 in the area. Well as soon as started walking we saw a few and then once our eyes adjusted we realised they are everywhere! Almost every flat surface has a carving on it, really incredible. We walked around and saw about 50-100 of the huge amount there.
From the coast we turned inland again into the dry, deep red red of the Pilbara. We stopped at the oasis of Millstream National Park in a perfect little campground next to the river under the shade of huge Paperbark Gums and palm trees and enjoyed some quiet time and a good walk. The next day we made our way to Karijini National Park, our primary reason for coming to the Pilbara. We set up camp in our dusty but quiet campsite and straight away noticed how much the temperature has dropped out here! We both had jumpers out for the first time in awhile and I had to get the big guns out for bed and wear socks last night, it got down to 7 degrees! That’s a very big drop from the daytime temps and from what we have been used to. It felt very cold and made it awfully hard to get up the next morning!
Yesterday we spent most of the day walking and exploring Dales Gorge from the campsite. We walked down into the guts of the gorge and along the floor marveling at the rock formations, the deep maroon of the iron rich rocks and the huge gash in the earth that is the gorge itself. Once again having my own resident geologist along was great! Olly was really taken by the rocks and I got a good lesson on the place. He spent ages searching for the perfect rock to take with us (ok by me I said as long as its small! We live in a Land Rover!) We walked past a few waterholes and towards the end of the walk went for a very refreshing swim in Fern Pool.
Today we were up early and made our way to the other accessible area of the Karijini where there are a series of other gorges. We didn’t know much about any of them and just wanted a walk really so we went on a short walk first and then saw a sign for a class 5 walk (the highest class you can access without a permit). The sign informed us to expect to get wet so we thought it sounded like a good walk. We made our way into Hancock Gorge and then along the gorge heading downstream, it was like entering into another world. The walls closed in around us, just a narrow gap carved out by the racing water, this is not a place to be when it’s raining! The gorge is beautiful and the walk fantastic, we were both grinning ear to ear the whole time. The gorge walls towered above us as we scrambled along and walked through the cold water, over boulders and made our way clinging to the walls to avoid deepest pools, a magnificent place.
It’s only three weeks until we drop Landy off for the boat. Our carnet (passport for Landy) is ready to be picked up in Perth, we are applying for our Ethiopian visas from Perth. Africa is stating to enter our consciousness a lot more. It seems surreal and far off to me but also so exciting.