Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Karijni NP - the best and the worst of Australia

An interesting evening spent with Celso & Ines – (their English is basic, but my Portuguese is non-existent) – I discover that Celso is doing post doctoral work at Curtin University in chemical engineering. Something to do with using natural fibres in tyres. We had agreed that in the morning we would do one of the gorge walks before they resume their journey and set off towards the coast.

Karijini has a number of gorges that cut through the landscape. The gorges close to Dale's camp are easily accessible and we have a great walk – first along the rim, then descending down to the creek bed and following it back upstream to the swimming holes.
As we climb out of the gorge and commence the walk back to the camp site, I hear the familiar sound of Marco's VStrom. Marco & Ursala have finally caught up!

After bidding Celso & Ines farewell and agreeing to catch up when we get to Perth, I head back down to the swimming hole with Marco and Ursala. We spend the afternoon in the cool of the gorge, swimming at will and commenting on the attitude of the visitors who pass by. 

There are 3 distinct types. Gen 'X' travelers and backpackers. Usually Europeans – lots of French and Germans – in camper vans and cars. Grey nomads in caravans and large mobile homes. Then there are the "Miners" – single males from the local mine camps.

The Gen 'X' travellers are out to have a good time. They appear to travel in groups and set up camp together. Most are OK, but some are totally oblivious to the environment they find themselves in. Twice we caught young French girls using shampoo to wash their hair in one of the pools. This particular pool is of special significance to the local indigenous people, and has signposts asking visitors to treat it with respect. When we confronted one of the French girls about using shampoo, her response was to say “But it's OK. The shampoo is organic!”. I asked her if she would be happy to wash her hair in Notre Dame Cathedral? She just looked blank. Marco wondered if she would object in swimming in his urine - after all it is also organic!.

As I say – totally oblivious to the the significance of place.

The other disappointment was the attitude of the miners who turn up over the weekend for R & R. They travel in packs and are loud, usually drunk, foul mouthed and totally insensitive to their surroundings or the other visitors to the park. They arrive in mine vehicles, complete with eskies full of beer and proceed to trash the place. The local camp hosts tell us that it is a growing problem and park authorities are trying to have them banned. Single loud drunk males, with to much money and nothing better to do on their days off than treat a world heritage site as if it were a trash heap.

Still – in a couple of hundred thousand years (blink of an eye in this part of the world) it will be like we humans were never here. The landscape will endure.

Karijini. A great place to experience the majesty of the Pilbara – just avoid the weekends.

PS - The visitors centre is also worth a visit. Amazing rusting iron architecture - perfect for the landscape!

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