Why our guides love our Karijini NP/Ningaloo Reef tour

Oct 13, 2023

If you’re thinking about trying our 7-day Karijini National Park Walk and Ningaloo Reef pack-free guided walk next year we reckon the best people to tell you about the trip are two of our guides, Glen and Janaya.

Glen and Janaya have been professional guides for some years and have guided on many of our pack-free guided walks but we know this trip is a particular favourite of theirs.

What’s your favourite part of the tour and why?

Janaya: “That would have to be the combination of the two locations in the one trip. The two destinations complement the tour so well!

The Ningaloo reef system has a huge diversity of marine animals, no one leaves the reef not having the best day on the water. Whether it’s what you see on your reef dives, the whale shark encounters or simply watching the humpbacks, mantarays and turtles from the boat. It’s a day out I’ll never forget.

On the other hand, Karijini’s gorges are stunning! I love the contrast of colours against the ironstone. The vibrant red sap on the blood woods, the smooth white bark of the snappy gums & the lush green spinifex hummocks amongst the afternoon light is my favourite time of the day.”

Some of the gorges are tricky to get to. What’s your advice for guests who are a bit hesitant on going up them?

Janaya: “All of the walks within the Karijini National Park are graded from 1-5 making it easy for guests to decide what walks are best suited to their ability. Most gorges can be slippery in the wetter areas and some have sections that require a small amount of climbing.

We always recommend guests to walk within their limits and to not be afraid to ask for a helping hand. We are there to assist guests through those trickier section’s and encourage people to book on a Life’s An Adventure tour for support, encouragement and of course a good time!”

What makes the geological history of this part of WA so fascinating?

Glen: “When studying geology for a new tour Janaya and I always look into other things that were happening during that time period to help bring the story to life. Like what the planet may have looked like during that time period or what stage of evolution life was at.

When researching Banded Iron Formation for Karijini we came across The Great Oxidation Event. At 2.7 billion years ago when eroded sediments and underwater volcanic eruptions cover existing basalts with iron rich sediments to form the Banded Ironstone of Karijini.

Cyanobacteria is evolving underwater to form stromatolites, the first organism to photosynthesise (generate energy from sunlight and heat, by-product oxygen). The oxygen released slowly oxygenated the water before escaping and displacing methane and becoming the major component of our atmosphere, creating an ozone layer which cuts UV and cooled Earth.

This oxygen acted as a poison causing a mass extinction of most anaerobic (without oxygen) life leading the way for aerobic (with oxygen) evolution. We owe our existence and present form to cyanobacteria. You can still see living stromatolites in a few places in WA which is so cool.”

We spotted some lovely native flowers on the tour. Which ones stand out to you and why?

Glenn: :\”When we think about flowering plants, shrubs and forbs (broad-leafed, non-woody plants) in the Pilbra, mulla mulla, gravilias, daisies, peas, and cassias usually steal the show but my favourite plants are coates hibiscus (Hibiscus Coatesii).

Most Life’s An Adventure guests are surprised to discover Australia has around 100 varieties of hibiscus. Coates hibiscus reminds me of the local Banjima people, so bright and resilient in a harsh landscape.

I also love mistletoes, an aerial semi-parasitic shrub that are mostly found in eucalyptus and acacias. They photosynthesise producing their own food but rely on their host for water and support.

They get a bad wrap being a parasite but I think they are great, they produce edible fruits providing food and shelter for birds, bugs and butterflies which in return spread their sticky seeds.

My favourite tree in the gorges at Karijini is the white cypress pine (Callitris Columellaris). It has no flowers, instead it has male and female cones that are wind pollinated. They evolved after ferns but before flowering plants. This ancient conifer links us with our Gondwanan heritage and like many of the plants in the deep gorges is a reminder of what our open country looked like before Australia drifted so far north and our planet warmed.”