When I woke up in the morning and checked Instagram, I saw that James McKay had posted pictures of Giralia flooded!! My brain was scrambling to try and make sense of it as we had only left there a few days ago and it was desert country. Apparently they got 7.8cm in one shower and the rivers filled up and flooded the road. There was a queue of cars over a kilometre long and it took a couple of hours for the flood waters to recede. Amazing. I am hoping to see the photos of the place coming alive after the rain. Apparently you cannot drive out to the sand dune where we were having our sunset drinks because it is completely under water. I cannot imagine this. If you want to see more, go to Insta and look up photos by JamesBonba. Giralia usually gets about 25cm of rainfall per year, last year they only got 12.5cm of rain, so this rain even is significant as it is 2/3 or their annual rainfall last year!!
Today we relocated from one side of Karijini National Park to the other and the drive took us about an hour and a half. This place is huge! The drive was breathtaking, both Col and I really love this place. We stopped at the Nanuturra Roadhouse for fuel on the way through then planned to go have a look at a little town called Wittenoom. Wittenoom is a small town where all the buildings are made from asbestos. I never knew that asbestos is mined from rocks. I never really thought about it’s origins before but apparently it is in the rocks and Wittenoom Gorge is meant to be beautiful to see. The town of Wittenoom is now a ghost town as when it was established that asbestos was harmful many people moved away and could not sell their homes. There are now only 3 people that remain there. I am intrigued by this kind of thing and was keen to stop for a look around, but I think we drove past it without even realising it! So we missed Wittenoom unfortunately. Interesting to read up on it and learn that it featured in Midnight Oils song ‘Blue Sky Mining’.
The drive into the Hammersley Gorge is over a fairly rough dirt road and Col had driven on well ahead of me. I saw a sign on the side of the road that I tried to have a read of but nearly lost control of the car and the boat in the process. I hit the soft sand on the side of the road, so decided it was safer not to read the sign. So I happily drove along into the Gorge. The sign said that you need to tune into channel 40 and declare that you are entering the gorge… oops. It becomes a one car narrow road among spectacular cliff faces that are a deep rusty red. I drove along happily admiring the beauty, luckily Col was at the other end on guard. No one else tried to come through I am happy to report.
When we left Dales Gorge Camp Ground there are approximately 130 camp sites and the park was full with a queue of about 10 cars waiting for a spot! We were a little worried as we were heading for a free camp over the other side of Karijini which you cannot book, so we were hoping we would be able to get a spot. We needn’t have worried! We were the only people there in a beautiful and spacious free camp, until quite late in the evening when one other car turned up! We got to have a small camp fire and thoroughly enjoyed the spot. Staying for two nights here and then heading to Port Hedland for a couple of nights.
We have worked out that the tourists cannot drive their hired ‘Whizz Bangs’ on dirt roads, which keeps the numbers down significantly. (We learnt the term Whizz Bang while at Giralia Station, they are the little white motorhomes that Tourists hire with the sliding door and the name comes from closing those doors. Just imagine it sliding… whizzz, and closing… bang! Great name!). Also the Grey Nomads tend to avoid the red dirt, rough roads, and so there we were with this amazing spot, pretty much all to ourselves. Beautiful.