A two day drive northeast of Perth-Western Australia’s Capital, the flat red dirt landscape suddenly gives way to mountain ranges covered in green. The effect is startling. Now for most people who grew up around huge mountains, maybe this isn’t too jaw dropping. But for someone who grew up mostly at sea level, it is a sight to behold.
The recent rains from the just past wet season have transformed the usually dry and dusty earth to one filled with all sorts of native grasses and bushes. Driving through it, you feel like you’re going past a movie backdrop with a pure one tonal blue sky and mountains shaping the horizon.
The area surrounding this incredible landscape is used for mining iron ore. Seeing the huge holes filled with trucks and machines is a stark contrast against the pureness on the national parks nature.
On our first day we went off of the beaten track and looked for an apparent secret swimming hole a friend of a friend of a friend knew about. Following the somewhat confusing handwritten map we ended up hours in off the main road with no pools in sight. With only an hour left of light we deiced to admit defeat and head back the way we came.
Driving back over the small stream with the water coming up to the bonnet of the FWD, my nephew decided to jump out and take a picture. As he began wandering he called out to us, he had found it! A hidden pool. We parked the car and all scrambled out. Walking only a few hundred meters from the crossing the stream opened up into a shallow but beautiful pool. We all stripped off and jumped in the water, so happy to have found something for our troubles!
We were the only people for hours around and the stillness of the evening was overwhelmingly beautiful. We all looked at each other with big grins on our faces. It was going to be an incredible week.
The next day we pulled into the first gorge car park (just a red dirt clearing and a drop toilet). There was nothing much to see. Looking over the land, it seems as if it was just more endless dirt and green scrub.
We began walking and all of a sudden out of nowhere, the earth seems to split open and you’re at the edge on the gorge looking down into a canyon with water running casually down the rocks to form small waterfalls. There were tall eucalypts sitting on the shady bottom, soaking up the water.
We spent the next five days exploring over 10 different gorges and pools, hiding from the heat up top (a cool day here is 30 degrees Celsius), and climbing and jumping into the water wherever is was deep enough.
Being deep down in the gorges, often in shade is a strange feeling. You are transported back to such a primitive world. One where there are no modern conveniences to make life easier. You rely on the strength that quickly builds in your arms and legs from spider walking through narrow ravines and pulling yourself up the almost sheer rock faces at some points.
For me I was lost in a happy daze, climbing around like a kid, waiting for the park ranger to disappear then jumping off the rocks into the cool, surprisingly clear water below.
At night the land cools down and the stars are endless. You almost feel that the world could end but you are so far removed that you would remain right here with this unchanged landscape, happily ignorant.
On my last morning I hiked up one of the smaller mountains in the dark to sit on top and watch the world wake up. I watched the sun's first rays peaking up over the ranges and setting the red earth on fire. It as a moment to truly appreciate and respect this incredible earth and a reminder that we are just visitors here and to leave only footprints.
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