"What these men can't afford is
not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of
"security." And in the worship of security we fling
our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know
it our lives are gone.
What does a man need - really need?
A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet
to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will
yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material
sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic
system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time
payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that
divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of
youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves
of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice.
Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"
— Sterling Hayden
— Rob Gray
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Tue 31 May 2011
OK so maybe this is the second best campsite in
the Pilbara, we have very dodgy reception, meaning that if you try
to get email 10 times on maybe 5 or 6 of those times you will get
a connection and even then only at about 15kbps on a good day with
a tail wind and when holding your mouth right.
So I can read (and even send sometimes) emails
but browsing web sites is out of the question.
Our campsite on top of the ridge.
All the walking and photography in this chronicle was done
with three photographer friends of mine. I'm using many of
their people shots to illustrate the text and the copyright
remains with them as noted for each such photo.
Rather than have a link for each photo here
are the guy's websites.
Presumably they will have
photos of the trip posted before long if not already.
Tue 31 May 2011
Glen, David and Paul arrive late in the evening
after long flights from Canberra and Hobart, hassles with car hire
and recalcitrant Coles staff in Tom Price, and a longish drive over
to our camp site; and then they have to put tents up.
Needless to say we didn't chat very much.
Wed 1 Jun 2011
Now we can catch up, we spent a large part of
the day chewing the fat and deciding which walk to do first.
We eventually decide to do a few days in the touristy
areas of the park and car camp rather than walking. That should
blow the cobwebs out and get us in the mood.
As the sun sets we take a few photos in the area
around the camp.
Some views from the campsite.
Note that all these pics were taken from directly
outside the truck. Like I said, the (second)best campsite in the
And after the sun sets the lads play with some
That's my name in lights in case you didn't notice. © Paul Hoelen (I think, I was in the warm motorhome at the time.)
Thu 2 Jun 2011
We drive to the information centre near Dales
Gorge and are informed that Hancock Gorge will close tomorrow for
track work. Hancock is where the Spider Walk and Kermit's Pool are
and I had originally thought it might be nice to spend two days
there, at this rate we'll be lucky to get half a day.
We fill our water bladders then drive over to
the Weano/Hancock Gorge car park.
Filling water bladders at the tank. © Glen Turvey
On the way however we check out a potential campsite.
You are not allowed to free camp in the park but there's a good
camp site on the way, about 3k short of the Weano car park is a
track to Bee Gorge and at this point the road just loops outside
the park for a few hundred metres, the Bee Gorge track is entirely
outside the park so we plan to camp there.
Both David and I have been there before but still
it's not as easy as we remembered to find the track. We do find
it however and earmark a suitable campsite for tonight.
Then it's down to the car park.
We gear up and head down into the gorge, it's
as good as I remember.
Glen making his way along the gorge side.
Abseilers below Kermit's Pool.
Looking down from Kermit's Pool.
Colourful rocks at Kermit's Pool.
Small cascade in the Spider Walk.
Me taking the above photo. © David Houlder.
Entrance to the Spider walk (right).
Small waterfall in The Amphitheartre.
David and I are slowly making our way back to
the exit track when he decides to take a photo. I'm pretty much
done taking photos for the day so I just hang around. On looking
up though I notice a possible exit point, I shinny about half way
up to ensure there are no surprises, it seems good so I return and
grab my gear.
The climb is a bit harder than I thought it would
be but but apart from one slightly hairy part is really just a scramble
up a steep slope.
Before long I'm on the rim looking down on David.
I take a photo of the spinifex on the opposite site of the gorge
then stroll back to the carpark.
Spinifex in the opposite side of the gorge.
After a while the lads are back, it's now dark
so we drive back to the campsite, set up our tents and eat.
Campsite just off the Bee Gorge track (taken next morning).
Fri 3 Jun 2011
We decide to leave out tents up for the day, partly
because we could be late and it's a pain erecting tents in the dark,
and partly to save our spot.
So it's back to the Weano car park, but this time
we walk in the opposite direction, down to Weano Gorge and Handrail
Pool. I haven't been here before so I'm looking forward to seeing
As it happens Hancock Gorge is not closed, they
realised it's a public holiday weekend and have postponed the track
works. But I think we did well enough there yesterday, we're better
off going somewhere new.
And I'm glad we do, Weano Gorge (and especially
the approach to Handrail Pool) is quite amazing. We spend the entire
day in the gorge and get some great photos.
David and I walk through a wet part in Weano Gorge. © Glen Turvey
Rock formations in the main part of the gorge.
Looking from a small pool back ot the main part of the gorge.
The small pool just before the entrance to Handrail Pool. The main part of the gorge is through the entrnace on the left.
You reach Handrail Pool via the entrance on the right.
Looking from the small pool to the entrance to Handrail Pool.
I'm first back to the car and I get chatting to
Rosalie (I think), a school teacher that's hanging around the car
park. It seems she is waiting for a group of school kids that are
abseiling through some class 6 sections of the gorges. They started
from Knox Gorge and are supposed to pop up here at either Hancock
But it's 4PM and there's no sign of them, still
it's not dark yet.
5PM and still no sign, still it's not dark yet.
At 6PM they still haven't surfaced and now it
By this time the lads are also here and we're
cooking dinner. I've been trying without success to raise the party
on the UHF so Glen (who has Search and Rescue training and experience)
takes control and contacts the rangers on the nearby emergency radio.
They in turn contact the Tom Price SES (State
Emergency Service) and the S&R wheels start turning.
After some time we raise the lost party on the
UHF, they are not far away although they have split into two parties
because some were slower than others. Rosalie turns on the bus lights
to guide them home and sure enough before long we see the leader's
head torch, probably just a 100 metres away or so, it's a done deal.
They are on the other side of the gorge.
The sides are steep, it's pitch dark, and they
only have a single head torch. We could possibly help but we only
have head torches as well and anyway we don't know the area and
would probably just make matters worse.
Glen is a real trooper and he maintains a comms
link between the rangers and the lost party which in turn helps
a lot with their moral as they know help is on the way. Meanwhile,
according to Rosalie, us being there has helped her a lot as she
hasn't had to deal with this on her own.
We commit to staying until the rangers arrive,
which they do an hour or so later.
They thank us (and particularly Glen) for our
help and ask where we're staying. I blurt out that we'll find a
spot in the bush and mean to say "outside the park" but
somehow don't add that part. Still they seem to forget about that
until 10 minutes later when they again ask where we'll spend the
This time Glen says we'll go back to our spot
way over at the Munjima Gorge lookout (which is miles across the
other side of the park and certainly not where our tents have been
all day on the Bee Gorge track just a few minutes away).
The ranger says, somewhat conspiratorially, "Well
there's a spot just up the road that's outside the camp, people
camp there and there's nothing we can do about it".
"Oh really?" says Glen.
The ranger gives us some directions and we take
As we drive off I ask Glen if he thinks he can
find the place. "I think we'll manage" he replies.
Sat 4 Jun 2011
Another day, another gorge. This time the lads
want to do some floating on the river at Joffre Gorge and they have
brought a motley collection of lilos, blow up boats and even a pink
inflatable pool "lounge".
Required accessory for gorge floating. I am of course referring to the lounge © Paul Hoelen
Personally I think water is only good for hot
showers and home brew and there's no way I'm going any nearer to
the stuff than absolutely necessary. And a voluntary float in a
freezing river does not qualify as "absolutely necessary".
Before we get to the trail head we drop into the
Safari Eco Retreat. They heard all about the "rescue"
last night and thank us because they would have had to go out if
we hadn't been there so they are grateful for that, their gratitude
doesn't extend to a free coffee though.
Coffee at the retreat. © Glen Turvey
We get to the Knox Gorge car park and the lads
head off, I just hang around for the day, reading, helping someone
with a car problem, generally relaxing, and trying to figure out
some issues with my serial protocol by drawing the logic waveforms
in the dirt. As you do.
Me hanging around. © Paul Hoelen
The lads ready for a day with their floaties. © Paul Hoelen
Glen in his blow-up boat. © David Houlder
Paul with his pink pool lounge © Glen Turvey
Glen and David return just before dark, and Paul
just after. It seems he couldn't deflate the pink lounge and after
half an hour was about to knife it when he realised that by squeezing
the valves the air could escape.
We drive back to the truck, eager to look at the
photographic results from the last three days.
Sun 5 Jun 2011
Lay day today, and some time to decide on the
next walk. The lads are keen to see the nearby Fortress Gorge, it's
a 3-4 day walk and I'm not that interested so I decide to sit this
Mon 6 June 2011
It's pissing down rain. The Fortress Gorge walk
is probably off so we sit around working on photos and chatting.
Paul has borrowed one of my tents but the ground
here is so hard that he doesn't bother trying to use the pegs and
places a few rocks around the fly to hold everything in place. It
works with mixed success and in fact the only thing holding the
tent down for the most part is Paul himself.
It's wet and windy. That lump in the tent is Paul © Glen Turvey
Tue 7 Jun 2011
The Fortress Gorge walk is definitely off so we
start to plan our walk for when the rain stops in a day of so (according
to the forecast).
The lads drive over to Wittenoom, a nearly-deserted
town that used to be at the centre of Australia's asbestos mining
Of course we now know that asbestos is not that
great for one's health and the town pretty much died with the industry.
There are a few hardy souls living there though.
Wed 8 Jun 2011
Still waiting for the rain to stop. The lads go
for a mine tour at Tom Price. I sit in my nice warm motorhome.
Thu 9 Jun 2011
We've decided to do a through walk from Dales
Gorge to Fig Tree Crossing. It's not very far but we will take 5
or 6 days to allow time for photography and what may be difficult
Given that this means our car will be parked in
the car park at Dales and you're not allowed to camp there (and
also it's often a good idea to let authorities know if you are heading
into the wilderness) we decide to inform the visitors centre of
The girls behind the counter don't appear to know
what we're talking about, "Oh", "Yeah" and "OK"
are all the response we get. They even suggest we tell the Auski
Roadhouse, Lord knows what it has to do with them.
Hmm, that doesn't exactly fill us with confidence
that the message will get through to anybody with some sense.
Then I remember that the camp hosts here in WA
have close contact with the rangers, so we drop into the camp host
tent at Dales Gorge.
She is a little flummoxed at first, not knowing
why anyone would want to walk for days through the park, but at
least she appreciates why we are telling her and she records our
Now we can be off.
We drive to the Circular Pool car park and are
just about to leave when Paul decides his pack is too heavy and
that a full repack is in order.
A likely-looking lot ready for off. © Glen Turvey
The rest of us head down the gorge with the idea
that we will drop packs and walk up to Fortescue Falls and back.
Thus if Paul does the same we will cross paths before long.
The plan is a good one, but we don't follow it.
David, Glen and myself decide to return along the gorge rim and
therefore we miss Paul as he walks along the bottom.
It's an hour or so before we finally get our act
together and proceed down the part of Dales Gorge that the tourists
A nice spot just off the main tourist part of Dales Gorge.
The going is easy for a kilometre or so with rock
ledges providing what are essentially pavements to walk on.
There is supposed to be a section that you have
to swim around here and we are prepared to waterproof everything
and brave the freezing water.
On reaching a very pleasant spot
A kilometre or so down Dales Gorge.
we are tempted to camp but it's only 3:30 so we
continue. Immediately David realises that this is the pool that
forced him to swim last time he walked here. However he was coming
from the other direction and on the other side of the gorge. We
spot what looks like a way around that doesn't involve getting wet
feet let alone a full swim.
There's a short difficult part but after that
it may be clear, however we can't see so as I'm the person least
inclined to get wet I drop my pack and scout ahead.
Sure enough, once the small climb is dealt with
it's a clear run, or as clear as it gets in some of these gorges.
Porting our packs across a small cliff. © Paul Hoelen
We stick to the river-left side of the gorge for
as long as possible but eventually are forced to the other side.
Then we must change again.
The rest of the afternoon is consumed trying to
stay on the inside of the many turns in the river because that's
where the terrain is the most accommodating (the outside of a river
bend is usually very steep with nowhere to walk).
The alluvial flats that looked so grassy and alluring
in Google Earth are in fact made up of rocks and boulders ranging
from a few inches to a few feet in size. This means that every step
is a potential ankle-twister. Add that to the creek crossings where
you have to fight with cutty grass as tall as us and after a couple
of hours I'm knackered.
With no obvious camp site in view and darkness
approaching Glen drops his pack and scouts ahead. He returns in
just a few minutes, there's a campsite not far ahead.
Day one, I'm buggered and we really only walked
for half a day.
Paul's tent in the star light. © Paul Hoelen
First campsite in Dales Gorge.
Fri 10 Jun 2011
After an uncomfortable night I'm actually quite
happy to get up in the cold. The inside of our tent flys are soaked
and there's no chance of seeing sunlight down here for several hours
so we pack them wet.
Today is much like the last two hours of yesterday,
boulders and creek crossings. We cross the creek many times because
it snakes back and forth and as I mentioned it's usually easier
(read "possible" as the outside is often a vertical cliff)
walking on the inside of a bend.
Me filling up with some water.
Me again...not close enough? I totally understand.
All © Paul Hoelen.
At about 4 it's time to drop anchor and as it
happens we are near a small pool with good camping on the sandy
bank. However our goal for today was to reach the junction of Dales
gorge and the unnamed gorge we intend to walk up, and that junction
is not very far away.
The potential campsite, there's a pool at the base of those trees. © Paul Hoelen
So do we walk up there to find there's no water
and/or decent campsite and then have to walk back. Or do we camp
here only to find the world's best campsite first thing tomorrow
Once again Glen comes to the rescue by dropping
his pack and doing a recce.
He returns to inform us of a good site with plenty
of water right at the junction, maybe 20 minutes walk away.
So it's packs back on and we're off again. Glen
bolts ahead but we soon catch up to find a great spot.
Tents up and washing on the line.
I inflate my sleeping mat. It became known as the 'bikini mat' for reasons that escape me. © Paul Hoelen
After setting up tents and taking a few photos
Glen decides to invest some time in making himself comfortable and
before long he has a passable version of a stone age Starship Enterprise
Glen surveys his handy work.
Now let's see, can I reach the water bladder?
How about making a cuppa? Yep, seems to work.
I am inspired by this (and by a deep-seated desire
to be comfortable) and create a somewhat simpler version for myself.
Later in the evening we discuss tomorrow's agenda
and largely decide that sitting around here is as good a way to
spend the day as any. David can't really see anything to photograph
but the rest of us can and anyway the idea of this walk was to take
Evening gab fest. © Paul Hoelen
There is a section of the next gorge that has
"Most interesting part" annotated by a previous map owner
and we are kind of aiming for that. But we don't know who penned
the annotation, maybe he was interested in slogging his guts out
through 2-metre high cutty grass then swimming through freezing
water. Who knows?
Eventually we decided that a great campsite in
the hand is better than a "most interesting part" in the
bush and we decide to stay another day.
Sat 11 Jun 2011
The camp at dawn.
A day of rest, I take a few photos, Glen and David
take a few more, and Paul shoots all day nearly exhausting his batteries.
A few photos of the nearby rock formations.
By and large though I'm happy to just lie around.
That's me, just lion around. You show me a flat rick and I'll show you how to get comfortable. © Glen Turvey
Glen does some exploring up the gorge today and
returns with a table for his control consol. That guy has more energy
than is healthy, fancy carrying that slab all the way down the gorge
just to have a table for the night.
Afternoon around the camp.
New and improved version of Glen's control consol, now with table. Notice the remote control at the bottom of the photo.
A wider view.
Another test run, Glen has a full-on Jason recliner happening here.
Sun 12 Jun 2011
Back into harness today. The plan is to walk as
far as possible up the unnamed gorge, climb out of it and navigate
across the plateau to one of the Munjuma Gorge tributaries, then
follow that into the gorge proper.
We fill up with water, no idea when we'll see some again in the next day or so.
More interesting rock formations.
Some of these gorges exit gracefully at the top
and others stop abruptly in a vertical headwall. We're hoping for
the former but after an hour or so it's obvious we're nearing the
end of the gorge and have not gained anywhere near enough height
for an easy exit, the rim can be seen still maybe 100m above us.
At this point however we find a very strange pool,
the bottom is lined with a white substance we can't identify.
Weird white pool.
After photographing the pool we decide to exit
the gorge by climbing straight up which at least will get it over
Yours truly, knackered and sweating like a pig on the way up the gorge side. © Glen Turvey
On reaching the rim we get a reasonable view of
the gorge's end just around the corner from where we had been, and
there is a headwall that would have been way too hard to climb so
we made the right decision to exit where we did.
Now we have about 2.5k of flat plateau to cross
before once again entering a gorge, albeit it at the top with a
gentle entry point down a tributary.
We pass some spinifex on the plateau. © Paul Hoelen
The navigation goes smoothly as we have some easy
features to take bearings from, I also get to use my GPS for the
first time in a real bushwalking scenario. Before long we find a
small dry creek and decide to just follow it as it must go to the
main tributary we are looking for.
The small creek turns into a large creek and then
a full on tributary that's a mini gorge in itself.
In one of the tributaries to Munjima Gorge. © Paul Hoelen
There's no obvious signs of water and we are carrying
enough to dry camp if necessary but it's nice to have a local supply
all the same. We find a still and somewhat grungy pool with shady
areas and think maybe this will do. It would be nice to get into
the real gorge though so once again we drop packs and recce ahead.
Near a potential campsite.
In what's becoming a daily ritual Glen goes well
ahead and finds both the junction of the main gorge and a better
campsite with reasonable water.
Another 20 minutes of rock hopping gets us to
the camp, a really nice spot near a good water hole.
A view of the campsite from a nearby ridge. © Paul Hoelen
Mon 13 Jun 2011
This will probably be the last day, unless the
"most interesting part" is something out of the box we'll
be walking to the highway.
We break camp and head down the gorge, the going
is easy because there's not much water and therefore not much vegetation.
The going is easy as we head off down Munjima Gorge. © Paul Hoelen
That changes dramatically when we reach Munjima
gorge proper after about a kilometre. There is a strong creek here
and the vegetation that goes with it. At this point we have to turn
right and head up the new gorge. We cross the creek and immediately
it's clear this gorge is a whole different ball of wax with wall-to-wall
I have a go at getting through but it's a bit
of a fool's errand (lucky I was on the job then).
Hmmm, there's a creek under this lot somewhere. © Paul Hoelen
We know this gorge is about 3k in length, and
to fight for that long through this crap doesn't make sense.
Being the laziest and least fit of the group I
look around in desperation and spot a nice spur. Hmmm that looks
like it will give us access to the rim and once up there we can
just motor along the open ground.
The lads agree and we backtrack a bit to find
a spot to start the climb.
Looking up the spur. © Paul Hoelen
Paul climbing out of the gorge. That's Munjima Gorge heading away from the camera, and the unamed gorge we need to follow coming from the right.
Five minutes later we're at the top of the rim
looking back over the gorges.
Heading along the gorge rim. © Paul Hoelen
We head off with a spring in our step, I am expecting
a gentle stroll to the highway but it's not quite as gentle as I'd
like. There are many tributaries leading into the gorge we are following
and every one has created either a small valley or gorge that has
to be crossed.
This means undulating terrain with occasional
steep bits and at the top of every hill I expect to see the road,
only to be disappointed, despite being able to clearly here some
The undulating terrain along the rim.
Every tributary has a mini gorge to cross.
Thank goodness, something to lean on.
All © Paul Hoelen
Finally though I catch a glimpse of the Fig Tree
Creek bridge, soon after we see a spec of white that must be Chris
in the Jimny, we have organized to meet here between 1 and 2 today,
or if we don't show tomorrow.
Ten minutes later we burst onto the highway, thank
goodness. Now we have to do a short car shuffle to the truck and
we're pretty much done.
This is accomplished in no time with Glen and
David comfortably back at the truck. Paul is still down on the highway
so I drive down in the Jimny to collect him. We then continue on
to Dales Gorge to retrieve the rental car. We inform the camp host
of our safe return and find out that it was a good thing we told
them of our trip because various people had been wondering about
the presence of an unattended vehicle on the park over night.
I return to the truck and Paul follows some time
later. As we are all in dire need of a shower we pile into the ute
and drive down to Auski roadhouse to buy a shower. At 2.50 it's
worth every cent.
We return to the truck for a feed and maybe a
drink or two.
Trans-Karajini walk...job done.
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