When I enquired at the Karijini Visitor Centre about Millstream, one of the rangers felt that the NP was one of the most underrated places in Australia and she wished more people would go there. Having assured us that there was little corrugation and most of the roads were sealed, now, we decided to go, but had to camp at Point Samson, to avoid taking the back road which was the dirt track we had been travelling on in Karijini and which we knew our caravan wouldn’t survive.
To travel the road to the National Park, I discovered we needed a pass from Rio Tinto. At that late hour, I went online and actually learnt some stuff but most of the road we would travel is now sealed, so a lot of it was unnecessary. I met people who didn’t bother with the pass, but it is free and if there’s a chance of being turned back, why not? The journey to the NP was picturesque, with many changes of scenery and foliage. The wildflowers were a colourful patchwork carpet over much of the land and we believe it’s due to the huge rainfall this year.
The road out was bitumen, with short dirt paths to some of the attractions and from PointSamson it took 2 hours each way. We attempted to do the wetlands walk once we arrived, but it was closed due to heavy rain and damage recently. Instead, we looked around the 1919 household and its very old desks for wireless, wood oven, wireless rocking chair and other artefacts. It’s a beautiful building, well made and maintained.
A few campsites surround the old homestead, nestled in the bush, and there were several vans and tents, which led us to think about staying here, another time. We drove to the lookout and marveled at the breadth of the River Fortescue and how healthy it is.
There’s a path along the cliff top, part of a longer walk to the homestead and back, that takes you along the river and to different landscapes. A bird of prey flew over us and came down pretty low at one point, possibly keeping us from their mate.
From here it was a short drive to Deep Reach, where the original inhabitants believe the Rainbow Serpent, creator of all life, lives. The carpark, where we met a goanna that needed the sun more than an escape from us, led to a short, paved path to the river and shade and tables.
We had lunch, then went and sat on the steps that lead to the water, cooling our feet and enjoying the fish and damselflies. It was enough for me, as I thought the deep river, whose reeds reached up out of the water, was a bit scary. I thought I could see a current and was not sure how strong it would be. This was a beautiful spot and we could see how it might be visited frequently if you camped in the park, also doing some of the walks. However, with some walks closed due to the wild weather earlier in the year, we weren’t sold on this park as a destination, yet.
We both thought we’d save our swim for the magical Python Pool, on our return journey, and the initial turnoff was dirt, as we were told, but shockingly corrugated. We attempted it for about 5 km and then could see no end to it so, wanting the unpleasantness of shaking and rattling to end, we turned around and went back. Later, we met a couple who took a different road (that we thought was off-limits to non-Tinto people) and entered Python Pool from the North, saying the road was really easy and the Pool was amazing.
Another location to put on the ‘next time’ list.
One of the sights on this road is the iron ore train, with carriages that go as far as you can see in each direction. You can’t go on until it’s finished, so why not get out and take photos?
Check road conditions before you head off. Rio Tinto provide daily updates if you do the online training.
Travel safe, with your permit, hat, water and sunscreen.