Day 3… Joffre Gorge

Our third day of Gorge walking looked like it was going to be an easy one as we didn’t have to drive anywhere today. The Eco Retreat was built not far from Joffre Gorge and there was a sign-posted path that started out near the reception area. The image below was taken as we got closer to the gorge

Our camp’s proximity to the Gorge was the only aspect of today’s hike that I found promising. The information  sign described the 1.3km return as follows…

This trail is for very experienced bush walkers. The track surface is rough and unformed. The trail crosses Joffre Creek. If the water is flowing strongly, do not proceed. The trail becomes Class 5 as it descends into the gorge. It is steep with some difficult sections. At the bottom, turn right and head towards the waterfall.”

I knew I was a class act but I was definitely not a Class 5 hiker. My three companions decided they would head down into the gorge and get close and personal with the waterfall below while I took the longer but more straightforward hike around the end of the gorge to the other side and make my way to the viewing platform that was nearby the car-park for Day visitors to Joffre Gorge. This was a good alternative for me, particularly as it gave great opportunities for photos from above the gorge. On the map below, my route is indicated by the red dashes and the three musketeers took the black arrow down into the gorge.

My path took me towards the end of the gorge that sat above the waterfall that the adventurous types were visiting down below. Basically, I was able to walk around the top of the gorge, rock-hopping over the slabs  that made up the headwaters of the Joffre waterfall. It was a gorgeous area with lots of rivulets running under, over and around the boulders before merging at the cliff edge and falling down into the gorge.

My path took me up the other side of the gorge to the carpark and then along further to the large viewing platform. This structure as I suspected enabled me to take some interesting photos that I hadn’t expected. For example the photo below shows the pool at the bottom of the long climb down into the gorge. The yellow arrow at the top, middle of the photo points to hikers climbing down the side of the gorge. The two arrows on the water showed the progress of three other hikers wading through the pool leading to the waterfall.

To my surprise I was able to spot my three amigos sitting peacefully at the edge of the waterfall below. The goal of any gorge walk in Karijini is to be able to have a swim at the end of the trek and then sit on the banded ironstone formations of a natural amphitheatre around a water-hole, contemplating how lucky you are. First Nation people who lived in this country before European arrivals no doubt visited the waterfalls and pools of Karijini and if any spot in the region would be considered a sacred site, this would be one of them. Its local name is Jijingunha. Archaeologists have found evidence of indigenous habitation in the area dating to around 1800 years old. This is a ‘young’ date compared to places like Kakadu, illustrating the difficulty of food sourcing for hunter gatherers in the Pilbara region.

My walk back to camp from the viewing platform on the other side of Joffre Gorge was a piece of cake compared to my fellow travellers who had to climb back up the side of the gorge. The image on the left shows the hard work ahead of them after they had had their fill of sun-baking and waterhole swimming.

In discussion of the Joffre Gorge landscape back at camp, we decided we would make the trek again late in the afternoon to take some sunset photos. Unfortunately the sunset photos weren’t great looking west from around Joffre Gorge but the photos looking east were great.

Day 4…Hammersley Gorge

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