Can you get around Karijini with 2WD - You can now!

Until recently, getting around Karijini National Park involved traversing some bone shaking, gravel roads and was best tackled with a 4WD, but that is all about to change!

  

Karijini was declared a national park in 1969. The original park only covered the area around Dales Gorge, but was eventually expanded to include Hamersley Gorge and became known as Hamersley Range National Park. In 1991, in recognition of the traditional owners, the park was renamed Karijini, meaning, ‘Hilly Place’ in the local Banjima language.

Back then the roads around the park weren’t even proper gravel roads; they were little more than a pair of wheel ruts through the bush, with no drainage to accommodate the heavy summer rains. As visitor numbers increased, they were widened and topped with a layer of gravel, but despite periodic grading, they were still known as some of the most corrugated roads in the state, only tackled by a few intrepid adventurers and those with a robust 4WD.

Over the years, various improvements have been made, including toilets, picnic facilities, signage and campgrounds. The road into Dales Gorge was eventually sealed and in 2001 a beautiful Visitor Centre was built. New infrastructure, such as ladders and steps provided a safer descent into the gorges, but visitors still had to brave the horrendous gravel roads to get around the park.

Late last year, work started on some exciting new upgrades, including the sealing of 41kms of gravel roads that will make the park accessible to more people than ever before.

Work on Weano Road is now complete and you can get to Karijini Eco Retreat on a beautiful sealed road. But, that’s not all. The new bitumen road continues all the way to Weano, Hancock, Joffre and Knox Gorges! No more bouncing over the corrugations to get to some of the most popular attractions in the park, including the ‘spider walk’, Kermits Pool and Joffre Falls. 

Another exciting addition is the brand new lookout that is being installed overlooking Knox Gorge. The cliff below the existing lookout became unstable during Cyclone Damien and has been closed since 2020. The new viewing platform will provide spectacular views down into the gorge and is expected to be open by July 2024. Please note, that Knox Gorge will be closed while the lookout works take place. 

Banjima Drive North, that notorious bone-shaking, gravel road that runs through the middle of the park, is also being sealed. It is expected to be finished towards the end of 2024 and will take 40km off the journey from Karijini Eco Retreat to Dales Gorge. Parts of Banjima Drive North will be closed during construction, but up to date information on road closures will be available on the Park Alerts website.

These new sealed roads will make travel around the park easier, safer and more accessible for everyone; including coaches, 2WD vehicles and those driving hire cars or towing caravans. It will also make travel to Karijini possible during the summer months, when the wet season rains often made the old gravel roads impassable. 

By the end on 2024 the only gravel roads left in the park will be:

And if you don’t want to tackle the gravel road to Joffre Falls, there is a walking trail from Karijini Eco Retreat. Look for ‘Joffre Ave’, just past reception.

To download an updated map of Karijini National Park, click here.

Karijini Eco Retreat will remain open throughout the upgrades, making it the perfect base to explore the wonders of Karijini National Park. We offer a variety of accommodation options, including spacious unpowered campsites, safari-style eco tents and cabins; all set in a natural bush environment.

Spend your days exploring amazing ancient landscapes, towering red cliffs and deep cool gorges. Sit under a cascading waterfall or swim in a fresh water pool.

Enjoy a drink and gourmet meal at our outback bar and restaurant, as you watch the sun sink below the distant horizon, spreading its golden glow over the surrounding spinifex and white barked snappy gums.

And at the end of the day, as you’re heading to bed, take a moment to gaze up at the mesmerizing canopy of glittering stars overhead.