Inside WA’s Outback Paradise
WA travel photographer Louise Coghill explains why Karijini National Park is Australia’s ultimate outback paradise.
Ask anyone who’s been, and you’ll invariably get the same response: Karijini is like nowhere else on earth. “It really does feel like another planet,” agrees travel photographer Louise Coghill. “I’ve never seen anywhere else quite like it.” Coghill has certainly seen her fair share of the world. The Perth-based photographer has made a career out of photographing her travels, exhibiting both local and international bodies of work in Perth, and recently publishing her first book, Terra. Still, she says, despite far-ranging explorations, Karijini stands out as a place of striking beauty. Here, she explains what makes it so special.
Karijini at Sunset
“WA is well known for its intensely pink sunsets, but at Karijini the skies are just next level – it’s quite intoxicating. But what’s even more special about Karijini is that virtually the entire park is hidden below your feet. Deep cracks in the earth, where water has been running for millions of years, has etched out a remarkable series of gorges filled with crystal clear swimming holes and birdsong; it lends the entire park with a really secret, special feel. It’s not hard to imagine how significant this place must be for the local Aboriginal people, you can certainly feel the connection to the landscape.”
“There are several gorges to explore within the park but Joffre Gorge is a good place to start because it’s right next to [campground and accommodation site] Karijini Eco Retreat. The first time I visited the park, I didn’t know what to expect and I remember looking down into Joffre Gorge and feeling quite overwhelmed by its depths. At its bottom, you hop across this little stream and skirt along its edge before squeezing through some rocks to be confronted with this impressive sight. That’s a fairly common part of the Karijini experience: you walk through a little crack in the rocks, or round a corner, and all of a sudden you’re confronted with some enormous, breathtaking view. It’s incredible.”
“The entire length of the walk to Circular Pool is special. Enter via Fortescue Falls at the top of Dales Gorge, then follow the river through the bushland at the bottom of the gorge before the pool presents itself: it’s the perfect reward at the end of a bushwalk! Circular Pool is a particularly impressive spot for a swim, even by Karijini standards. Between the height of the rock, and the colour of that water, it feels almost magical here.”
Karijini at Night
“The stars at Karijini are absolutely incredible – I’ve never seen the Milky Way as clearly as I have here. This was taken just after the sun went down and before the moon came up, so there was still light in the sky. You can imagine what it might look like when it’s completely dark. Phil from REM Trek offers star-gazing experiences out here with a few really high performance telescopes, which I absolutely recommend. I particularly love gazing at Saturn with its rings. Without pollution or distractions, you can see so much more.”
“Most of the time, when I see magnificent landscapes, I feel very small. But Karijini is different – rather than feeling small in size, you feel small in time. It has a soulfulness that really gives you space to wonder at Earth, and at what’s been created over the millions of years. Oxer lookout showcases the point where three gorges meet. Even though you’re perfectly safe on the lookout platform, whenever I look down, I always feel as though the whole wall could simply crumble into the depths below! It’s a really powerful introduction to the scale of the park and best viewed at sunset.”
“A person at Karijini Eco Retreat told me about this spot within Knox Gorge – you scramble down until you arrive at the bottom of the gorge, then turn right. Unlike most people who turn left – which is well worth doing as it’s a beautiful walk to the end of Knox Gorge but if you turn right, you’ll come across this beautiful pool. This has since become one of my favourite places to go swimming and it’s an incredible spot to while away a sunny morning.”