Cool memories of a singular swim
SOUTH HEDLAND, WA KARINJI National Park in the Hamersley Ranges was at the top of my Western Australia must-visit list.
Arriving at midday I needed to stretch my legs after the 450km drive from Port Hedland so decided to head straight to the closest landmark, Joffre Gorge, which was a short walk from the campsite.
The air was heavy and the sun hot but donning my father’s old Akubra hat and slapping on sunscreen, I was up for an adventure.
Despite the poorly marked trail I managed to locate the gorge, albeit on the opposite side to the lookout. I decided to go down. The smooth black rock along the sides of the gorge seemed cut to measure from a quarry and made an easy climb to the water’s edge where the deep, dark water beckoned me. Leaving my pack I slid in and gasped with shock at the cold.
Hearing laughter I looked up to see several people watching me from the lookout. I could barely make out their faces but their voices carried clearly. ‘‘Take your shoes,’’ they called out. So I slung my shoes around my neck and pushed against the light current to a narrow crevice partially blocked by fallen rocks.
A short climb and the amphitheatre of Joffre opened in front of me. Sleek high vertical walls cut my view from anything but the sky, the only sound birds and the desultory trickle of the nearly dried-up waterfall, the pebbled bottom of the river exposed as a dry bank around the edge of the amphitheatre. I was in heaven.
Reluctantly as the light began to fade and the temperature started to drop, I made mywayback up the trail, getting a little lost so that it was almost dark by the time I reached camp. My usual five-minute tent set-up became a chore when I found my rubber mallet wouldn’t penetrate the rock and red dirt.
However, my Girl Guide training at last served its purpose and with an adjustment here and an extra rope there, I triumphed with an intricate web of knots that tied my tent to a few boulders dragged into place (with due consideration to any wildlife that could have been sheltering underneath) and the back of the car.
With a mug of steaming soup and a chunk of bread I sat back and let the moonless night perform its magic. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: travel@ theaustralian.com.au. Columnists receive an Aubecq frypan ($99.99) from the Evergreen Classic range of ceramic-based ecocookware with nonstick coating. More: (02) 9662 3450; morganware.com.au; petersofkensington. com.au.