Donovan wrote:I've searched Bushwalk.com but couldn't find the answers to a few of my more specific questions.
Firstly - everyone seems to mention that the Karijini walks have grossly overstated walking times. Is this correct? If so, how much are they overstated by? I know everyone is different but a rough estimate would be appreciated. Also, I've read in a few places on this forum that there are longer loop walks that you only read about once you get there. I've been able to work out that Weano and Hancock Gorges can be done together via linked trails and that Dale Gorge can be done as a loop, but are there others? I've read about but am not interested in the Class 6 canyoning walks for this trip - just walks that can be done without rope.
I was at both Karijini and Millstream-Chichester parks last week. I just did all the Karijini gorges rather than the longer walks (like Mt Bruce) and even though I am somewhat of a "serial dawdler" I did some gorges in the recommended time (like Knox Gorge) and others I did far faster - for example I did both Weano Gorge and Hancock Gorges in less than three hours combined even though I spent a substantial time at both Handrail and Kermit's Pool. I suspect the time listed for Hancock Gorge is greatly inflated because of the "one way" nature of the Spiderwalk which turns into a real chokepoint when there are a lot of people coming through (I made sure we went in at 8am to avoid this exact problem - we ended up being the only people there so we sped through both ways). As well, I met a family of five down at the bottom of Joffre Falls that did Joffre, Hancock, Weano and Knox gorges all in one day.
I also spoke to one of the Rangers about longer walking opportunities when we run into him in Hancock Gorge (I reckon this fellow could do the gorge in about 20 minutes both in and out without getting his feet wet). He said that there is no published track but described a route similar to one described on David Houlder's website (although he said it stops at Dales and then to start it again at Kalamina Gorge and walk through). He actually mentioned someone called Colin Walker (?) that sometimes conducts walks through the park with small groups although I have not found anything on him.
Note that I am still unaware of how to connect Weano and Hancock Gorge short walking back out of either and then walking to the other side of the Weano/Hancock Gorge carpark to enter the other gorge. I did not think to ask the ranger about this.
I am still unpacking my bags but if you are interested I believe I still have maps of the Dales and Weano/Hancock areas that I had not seen online before - I could send them to you in case they are useful although they mostly cover the short walks only.
Donovan wrote:Secondly, while in Millstream Chichester we are planning on doing the Camel Trail from Python Pool to Mt Herbert and plan to leave some bikes at the car park and cycle back down to Python Pool. From memory, does anyone know if there is either a tree or a trailhead/signpost in the car park near Mt Herbert where we could chain our bikes?
I only walked up Mt Herbert (using the trail that goes straight up from the carpark - you will see what I mean when you get there) but I did spy a trail sign about 100m in along the track that goes around Mt Herbert from the carpark. This may be the best place to secure the bikes as it is a way off the road and it is also away from the carpark as well.
From the top of Mt Herbert I could see some burnt out areas and based on the signs I saw they have conducted some aeriel burning recently. As I did not walk the Camel trail I am not sure if has impacted any parts you may walk through however there was a largish patch that was burnt out between Mt Herbert and where Python Pool is. I suspect that the trail you are walking will potentially skirt this area as it possibly goes through the gully more to the east.
Note that parts of the Millstream section of the park were closed as at 24th May but hopefully they will not take too much to open. The part of Snappy Gum drive where the lookout for sunset was closed (all the way back to the main road past where Crossing Pool used to be) as well as part of the loop walk at the homestead (you could only get to one side of Jirndawurrunha Pool when I was there before turning back). Crossing Pool is permanently closed now (no one allowed into the area period) - this was the best place by far to camp which is a pity. All other parts were open (apart from Snake Creek Campground in the Chichester part).
The roads were in better nick than normal including some new bitumen seal coming in from the Karratha direction as well as seal up to the Joffre Gorge carpark which has both been done in the last few years or so. If you are using the Railway Access road (permit required) to travel between Millstream and Karijini, it is busier than normal at the southern end due to a new mine being constructed. If you do use the access road, you can avoid the area by going via Hammersly Gorge using the road that goes past the Solomon Mine/Airport. You can get permits online now from the Rio Tinto website rather than going into one of the visitor centres (http://www.pilbararailaccessroad.riotinto.com/