Murchison River Gorge - Day 1

Murchison River Gorge Index

Hardabout Pool

The trip began with a long, 573km drive from Perth. The group had brought two cars, with the first departing slightly earlier so as to be able to stop at various points along the route that were accessible by road. The whole point of this was to be able to leave food drops at hidden locations in the bush (that were then waypointed) so that they could be collected along the way. I chose to carry all my provisions for the entire hike as I personally felt that food drops made things a little too convenient.

Getting There

Turnoff from the Ajana-Kalbarri road (-27.896717, 114.554263)


The first two access points can be found at a branch off the Ajana-Kalbarri road that is located at 27°49'14.4"S 114°27'40.6"E. This road will bring you to another junction shortly after, with the right turning leading to Ross Graham lookout and the left to Hawk's Head Lookout. Further up the Ajana-Kalbarri road, you will come across another fork on the right (coming from the South) at 27°45'35.7"S 114°22'41.1"E that continues along for about 20km (half the road is sealed and the other half is just gravel) before reaching the junction that branches off right to the Z-bend and left to the Loop (Click here for the image of the turn-off). After leaving the other car at the Loop carpark, we made our way back down to the starting point just after Hardabout Pool.

By the time we left the car and began to walk, it was already 15:00. We made our way North-East and descended down to the river in the heat - it was Winter when we left Perth, but Kalbarri was so far North that Winter was but a distant memory. Once my body began to get used to the surprising warmth, my senses started to go into overdrive.

Hardabout Pool

Hardabout Pool Path

Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 1 - Hardabout Pool (Part 2)

Murchison River Gorge Index

Murchison River Gorge Index

Rock-strewn fields

The first thing I noticed were the ubiquitous red boulders that surrounded me, some that were so large that I caught myself looking for climbing lines. No matter how large these boulders were however, they were still just tiny, almost insignificant, parts of the huge rock-strewn fields that seemed endless. As we walked around and occasionally hopped over the rocks, avoiding the scattered algae-filled pools, we were able to settle down to a nice, slow, relaxed pace - a pace that gave us the time to appreciate the unique terrain, almost moonscape-like, whilst basking in the warmth of the sun.

Path from Hardabout Pool

The pools had started out fairly small and isolated from one another, with dry, caked and cracked earth in-between. These pools started to grow as we walked and seemed to slowly merge into one another, first forming little ponds, and eventually forming the river itself. We carried on, following the river to our left, and tracing it as we went along. We passed the tracks of feral dogs, possibly dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), and up and around the dried white husks of fallen trees as the cliff face loomed ahead in the distance.

Path from Hardabout Pool

The Campsite

Soon after, we arrived at a point on the riverbank that was abundant with River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). The branches of the River Reds were wide and solid, the grass around the area was lush, the ground was flat, and the weather was pleasant - all the ingredients for a nice, cosy campsite. I sat down for a while after I had strung up my Hennessy Hammock, and took in the sights and the sounds. It was warm despite the breeze that whistled by, leaving the branches swaying and the leaves rustling. The breeze also left ripples sliding across the river, patterns being cast to the symphony of the wind.

Hammock Setup As the sun began to set and the shadows grew longer, the contrast of the white bark, the red cliffs and the bursts of green leaves began to fade. The tweets, chirps and squawks of the birds, an assortment of melodic tunes, seemed to intensify however, seemingly acknowledging the diminishing light of the sun. These sounds, together with the layers of movement - the immovable tree trunks with their swaying leaves; the still rocks surrounded by the unceasing ripples of the river - seemed to overwhelm my senses, yet somehow still managed to completely clear my mind.

It began to rain shortly after I lay down to sleep, the soothing pitter-patter of the rain drops hitting the tarp lulling me into a deep sleep...

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats



Next : Murchison River Gorge – Day 2 - Onwards

Murchison River Gorge Index