Dales Gorge, Karijini National Park, Pilbara, Western Australia
Fern Pool really is an unbelievable place to float on your back in cool, turquoise water and stare up at the beautiful red rock formations and lush greenery above. This area of Western Australia is so visually stunning it’s hard to believe the colours and contours of the rocks are for real, but the photos don’t lie; it’s the iron in the rocks that gives them their deep red colour. What’s more the area abounds with swimming potential so make sure you leave enough time to explore properly. You’ll be glad of the cool water and probably want to stop for frequent swims given the challenging hikes required to get around in this area. Fern Pool is at one end of Dale’s Gorge and is one of the easier to access swimming holes with a large, deep pool to enjoy. Venture on up this gorge or one of the many others in the area for a walk punctuated with unforgettable swims. Circular Pool is another swimming hole at the other end of Dales Gorge and Fortescue Falls is halfway along the gorge so it’s easy to combine the three. Both spots are very special to local Aboriginal people. Visitors are welcome to swim but are asked to treat the spot with the respect it deserves. It’s such an awe-inspiring place that we hope this will come naturally.
As always, take care whilst swimming and hiking. It is recommended that you leave the gorges if it starts to rain as flash flooding can occur.
How To Get There: From Tom Price, drive the 60km to Karijini National Park. Take the eastern entrance into Karijini National Park. Park at the Fortescue Falls car park and follow the trail to Fortescue Falls. It is then a 300m walk along the gorge floor to Fern Pool. It is also possible to park at several other locations nearby and access the pools via the network of well-marked trails. See here for a map of trails in the Dales Gorge area.
Difficulty of access: The Karijini National Park is quite a challenge to access as it’s very remote. However, it’s well worth he effort and we recommend you stay for a few days to really enjoy the area and explore the myriad of swimming holes here. 2WD drive vehicles can access the park but as all roads are graded red gravel and are only graded twice a year, 4WD is recommended.
Access to Fern Pool is only a 300m (30 min return) hike along the gorge from the Fotescue Falls Car Park, but the National Parks rate it as a 4, meaning bushwalking experience is required.
Opening Times/Seasons: See here for up to date park closure info for Karijini National Park.
Entrance Fee: See here for up-to-date park entry and camping fees for Karijini National Park
Facilities Nearby: There are toilets in the car park and more toilets and picnic tables at the Dales Gorge Day Use Area
Other Activities: Swimming, bushwalking, picnics.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: In Karijini you have endless walks at your feet. The many-tiered Fortescue Falls is halfway along Dales Gorge, with a loarge pool beneath it suitable for swimming. Another swimming hole, Circular Pool, is at the other end of the gorge. The Gorge Walk is fairly challenging and can take up to 3 hours. You may want to also include Knox Gorge and Joffre Falls on your itinerary as the views are exceptional.
Wildlife: This is a wildlife paradise. You’ll see a range of flowers from the northern blue bells to the iconic wattle. There is a variety of birds, species of kangaroos, wallabies and even bats. Keep an eye out for snakes in the area. You’ll hopefully also see giant mounds of the bush termites.
Places to Eat: Karijini National Park is really isolated from towns. If you do visit Tom Price then your best bet is the Red Breeze Thai restaurant.
Where to camp: You have a couple of options for camping. The closest is Dales Gorge Campground which can be reached by sealed road and has caravan and tent sites available. It has toilet and gas BBQ facilities.
Other places to Stay: The National Park is quite a drive from a town of any real size. If you enjoy camping but want to do it in style you can visit Karijini Eco Retreat at Joffre Gorge which has cabins, campsites and deluxe eco tents. Alternatively you’ll find units, campsites and a caravan park at the Auski Tourist Village. Otherwise you will find motels and caravan parks at the nearest town which is Tom Price.
Nearby Towns: Tom Price
Other Swimming Spots Nearby: Circular Pool, Fortescue Falls, Hancock Gorge, Weano Gorge, Spa Pool, Kermits Pool, Handrail Pool
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