Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Karijini National Park

Originally called the Hamersely Ranges National Park, now known by its Aboriginal name Karijini National Park. It is the second largest national park in Western Australia. It is best known for the multitude of waterfalls and sheer-sided chasms, up to 100 m high, where the blood-red hue of the gorges contrast with the green of the water on the floor of those with running streams or waterholes and the brilliant blue sky normal for the dry season. 

The rusty cliffs are indeed stained with rust as the rock formed 2.5 billion years ago at the time in the Earth's history when the oxygen produced by the first photosynthetic organisms, such as the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), one of the first recognised life forms, was rusting the iron dissolved in the oceans causing it to settle out as rust (iron oxide). Once the iron of the oceans had been removed the oxygen began to accumulate in the atmosphere.  Descendants of these ancient organisms can still be seen in places such as Shark Bay, the largest collection of living stromatolites, living much as they did 3.5 billion years ago. 

There are more than 20 gorges in the Hamersley Range that display a wide variety of forms from wide with terraced cliffs to narrow chasms flanked by sheer 100 m high cliffs. Their lengths vary from a few hundred metres to many kilometres. The gorges all have a character of their own, most having green coloured pools that contrast with walls that have various striped colours of red, brown and bluish-black rock. There is a gorge to appeal to just about anyone interested in spectacular scenery. 

The gorges of the Hamersley Ranges are some of the most awe-inspiring gorges in the country. Some of the gorges are Dales Gorge, Weano Gorge, Hamersley Gorge, Red Gorge, Yampire Gorge (now off limits because of the dumping of the tailings from asbestos mining), Joffre Gorge, and  Hancock Gorge. One of the most spectacular places in the Hamersleys is where four of the narrowest gorges, Red, Joffre, Hancock and Wean, meet. At this point there is a hole several hundred metres deep surrounded by sheer walls.

As a result of the diversity of the landforms there are a great variety of plants.

Dales Gorge
Weano Gorge
Hamersley Gorge
Red Gorge
Joffre Gorge

Dales Gorge

More than 40 km long, this garden-like gorge is one of the Hamersley gorges, having high red, terraced cliffs. It has deep pools in its base which are lined with waterlilies and reeds, and a profuse growth of vegetation on its banks and the chasm is lined by ghost gums (Eucalyptus papuana) along the top and on the scree slopes. Fortescue Falls cascades into this gorge. Only a small part of this gorge is accessible.

Weano Gorge

Another of the Hamersley gorges, it short, narrow and bare, the lower parts of which have been deeply cut by the roaring torrent of the wet season. The beauty of this gorge is seen in the sunlight that illuminates the upper parts of the coloured walls that glow with brilliant streaks of reds, golden yellows and orange-browns. In the depths where the only light is reflected sunlight, the walls take on a colours that grade from reddish-grey to indigo. These colours contrast wonderfully with the clear jade-green pools.

Hamersley Gorge

This is a wide gorge with folded bands of coloured rocks, clear blue water holes and stepped waterfalls. 86 km from Tom Price, it is part of the Kirijini National Park. Take the gravel Nanuatarra Wittenoon Road, heading north east from Tom Price.

Red Gorge

Another of the Hamersley gorges, is noted for its spectacular vertical cliffs and pool.

Joffre Gorge

This gorge boasts the beautiful Joffre Falls when there is sufficient water.

Sources & Further reading



Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated



Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading