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“WARNING: Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park is a very remote area with NO facilities, few signs and rough, unmaintained tracks. Single vehicle access is NOT recommended. All parties should be self-sufficient and carry adequate water, food and fuel. HF radio or satellite telephone communication is highly recommended,” said someone once.

I felt it was an invitation. Seriously though, the warning is fair dinkum.

Georgia Bore is a great spot to kick back and relax for a couple of days under the shade of a coolabah tree. The water from the bore is good enough to drink and is perfect for a cleansing shower too. The galahs and spinifex pigeons hang around the pump in the early morning and the native bees in the late afternoon. It is a busy watering point for travellers along the Canning Stock Route as that challenging track runs past north-south while the Talawana Track runs west-east.

Parnngurr is a community 85km to the west of the bore and the last chance for fuel until Newman or Marble Bar. There is also a reasonably well-stocked store open Monday to Friday and Saturday morning, however, if the operators are in town, they will open up out of hours for a fee.

KARLAMILYI NATIONAL PARK

WORDS & IMAGES BY GLENN MARSHALL

Exploring THE most remote national park, solo

The indicators that you are heading the right way

BELOW These native bees were docile – their neighbours weren’t

BELOW The 4WD track between the Broadhurst and Fingoon Ranges is spectacular

NEW 12TH EDITION AUSTRALIA
ROAD & 4WD ATLASES

HEMA HX-1 NAVIGATOR
THE ULTIMATE GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM

Proudly Sponsored by
Hema Explorer App
hemamaps.com

TRAVEL

Sleeps 7
Fly Included
CPAI-84 Fire Retardant

ADVERTISEMENT

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

From Parnngurr, the Talawana Track is a well-maintained wide gravel road all the way to the bitumen on the Marble Bar Road. It is only 28km from the community turnoff to the track into Karlamilyi National Park. Coming from the east turn at the water point sign, from the west turn at the Rudall River sign.

The old water pump site is in a patch of ghost gums and a great spot to camp in the shade. Unfortunately, the bore no longer has a pump so the water isn’t accessible. Once past here, the corrugations really kick in and last for about 30km. I know I harp on about dropping your tyre pressures, but it works and will save you from expensive repair bills. The ride is easier on your suspension and anything else bolted to your 4WD, and physically your hands, arms and shoulders aren’t being severely jolted all the time.

A Prado was left parked on the track, complete with a backyard ute conversion including roll bar installation. Check out the photos for this rad-looking vehicle. As you skirt the Fingoon Range the track changes to a hard base with occasional stones. The vistas through here are amazing.

Rudall River was named by explorer Frank Hann after he ran into government surveyor William Rudall, who was searching for a couple of lost members of the Calvert Scientific Expedition. Rudall walked the entire length of the river but came up empty. The Martu are the traditional owners of the land and know the upper reaches of the river as Waturarra and the lower reaches as Karlamilyi. Rudall River National Park is Western Australia’s largest national park and was renamed Karlamilyi in 2008 to recognise the significance to the Martu Aboriginal people.

Prado, one owner, freshly painted, ready for quick sale

The Martu Aboriginal people have inhabited this region for thousands of years

The Rudall River crossing is wide and sandy; stick to the wheel tracks and you will be fine

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Golden hour lit up the escarpments

The track into the Desert Queen Baths is a great opportunity to lock it in low range and go slow; in fact, the track conditions demand it. As you move through the valley, the sun shines on the range just right and you’ll need to take care not to wander from the track as you’re taken in by nature’s beauty.

Caught in the middle of a Beadell Tour convoy, it was different to not being alone. It was refreshing to listen to the chatter over the UHF and the pace was just perfect. Cresting the rise, I was surprised by just how many campers there were, my plan to relax for a few days in peace thwarted. I was able to find a spot to camp, not the best spot but my options were restricted. The camping area was highly popular as the CSR was closed between Wells 25 and 33 with water on the track.

Having set up, I decided to check out the walk into the Desert Queen Baths. This walk is not for the unfit or unbalanced – physically, not mentally. There’s a lot of rock hopping and the track is hardly defined, in fact, it was quite difficult to work out how to get to the correct side to get around the Goanna Pool, the first pool. Once sorted (I followed others), I progressed far enough to check out some rock art and a large beehive, honeycomb stretching down the cliff face in layers.

Returning to camp, I spent the next couple of hours showing off my Prado to several people interested in my set-up. I also ran into Grant Hanan and Linda Bloffwitch from My Aussie Travel Guide and fellow contributors to Unsealed 4X4 and RV Daily. We talked shop by the campfire for a couple of hours before it was time to hit the swag.

The Goanna Pool is the perfect place to just sit

BELOW A plaque left by prospectors in the 1930s

ABOVE This is the only sign that tells you where the Desert Queen Baths are

The drive out was as awesome as the drive in

I was up early the next morning, but not early enough to capture an explosive sunrise – bugger. I’m still struggling with the two-hour time difference between WA and home. The billy was boiled, coffee inhaled and then I set off to explore the gorge better – or so I thought.

I was hopping from rock to rock, closing in on the second of the Desert Queen Baths, when I was hit on the neck by a young kamikaze bee. As he dropped to the ground, mortally wounded by his aggressive tactics, I quickly scraped the stinger from my neck. Not having been stung before, I decided to return to camp as quickly as I could. I swallowed an anti-histamine tablet and sat for a little while, relieved there were no allergic reactions. I had been told about an aggressive hive on the opposite of the creek to the one I checked out yesterday, but I figured it was early in the morning and cold, so the angry bees would be more docile. I figured wrong.

The flowers were enjoying some moisture

These camels were distressed at being separated from the mob

As more campers arrived into camp, and spots of rain began to turn the dust on my windscreen into muck, it was time to check out Tjingkulatjatjarra (Jarra) and Watrara Pools permanent waterholes on the Rudall River. The spots of rain continued as I again enjoyed the drive out of the gorge, but gave way as the sun broke through.

A mob of 30 or so camels were grazing in the distance, but a couple were close, so I fired off some shots (from the camera – ha). The turnoff to the pools is signified by a drum and the going is slow along the rough old track. It pays to have good mapping software so that the right tracks are taken. There are a few off-shoots that can mistakenly be taken, something I witnessed as a vehicle took the wrong turn and disappeared from UHF range for a while, scaring the crap out of their travelling companions.

"I was hopping from rock to rock, closing in on the second of the Desert Queen Baths, when I was hit on the neck by a young kamikaze bee."

ABOVE The first of the Desert Queen Baths was as far as I got before I was mindlessly attacked

Arriving at Watrara Pool, the Beadell Tour were just finishing lunch and another group were camped by the river. It was a magical spot; ghost gums lined the rocky banks, and the waterhole has a sandy base. Perfect for a swim on a hot day, a picnic lunch or a few days camped, just you and the wildlife. I suggest basing yourself here and doing day trips into Desert Queen Baths. The camping is better, quieter and more private.

Sure, Karlamilyi is remote and yes you need to be prepared for anything, but as its popularity grows there won’t be too many times that you will be the only one there, especially during the travel season. I highly recommend you allow some time to really soak up the offerings of this national park; you won’t regret it.

The rugged outcrops are what make this such an amazing place

DESTINATION DETAILS
WHERE: East Pilbara. Access from Newman is via the Talawana Track and is 700km return plus detours. From Marble Bar travel via the Telfer Mine Road before taking the track south into the park, a distance of approximately 400km to get to Desert Queen Baths.

SUPPLIES & FACILITIES: Fuel and supplies are available from Newman or Marble Bar. Fuel and limited supplies are available at Parnngurr. Times are generally Monday to Friday daylight hours and Saturday morning.

CAMPING: There’s camping at Watrara and Jarra Pools and Desert Queen Baths. There are no facilities within the park, take out what you take in, leave only footprints, take only photos.

BEST TIME: Milder months from May to September.

TRIP STANDARD: As per Hema’s 4WD Adventures Atlas: Top 100 Journeys and Getaways, “All roads are a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Expect sand, severe corrugations, eroded gullies, water courses and rocky terrain.”

You’ll need to be self-reliant, have suitable recovery gear, satellite phone/HF Radio, EPIRB, remote first aid kit, extra food and water. Travelling solo is not recommended.

PERMITS: No permits are required for Karlamilyi National Park unless you intend to gain access via Parnngurr. Contact details are here.

MORE INFO: Drones are not permitted to be flown in any national park in the Pilbara.

Good set of boots and some ability is required

Watrara Pool was a place for reflection

Perfect place for a campfire

KARLAMILYI NATIONAL PARK

Exploring THE most remote national park, solo

WORDS & IMAGES BY GLENN MARSHALL

“WARNING: Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park is a very remote area with NO facilities, few signs and rough, unmaintained tracks. Single vehicle access is NOT recommended. All parties should be self-sufficient and carry adequate water, food and fuel. HF radio or satellite telephone communication is highly recommended,” said someone once.

I felt it was an invitation. Seriously though, the warning is fair dinkum.

Georgia Bore is a great spot to kick back and relax for a couple of days under the shade of a coolabah tree. The water from the bore is good enough to drink and is perfect for a cleansing shower too. The galahs and spinifex pigeons hang around the pump in the early morning and the native bees in the late afternoon. It is a busy watering point for travellers along the Canning Stock Route as that challenging track runs past north-south while the Talawana Track runs west-east.

Parnngurr is a community 85km to the west of the bore and the last chance for fuel until Newman or Marble Bar. There is also a reasonably well-stocked store open Monday to Friday and Saturday morning, however, if the operators are in town, they will open up out of hours for a fee.

The indicators that you are heading the right way

BELOW These native bees were docile – their neighbours weren’t

BELOW The 4WD track between the Broadhurst and Fingoon Ranges is spectacular

HEMA HX-1 NAVIGATOR
THE ULTIMATE GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM

NEW 12TH EDITION AUSTRALIA
ROAD & 4WD ATLASES

Proudly Sponsored by
Hema Explorer App
hemamaps.com

TRAVEL

Sleeps 7
Fly Included
CPAI-84 Fire Retardant

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

From Parnngurr, the Talawana Track is a well-maintained wide gravel road all the way to the bitumen on the Marble Bar Road. It is only 28km from the community turnoff to the track into Karlamilyi National Park. Coming from the east turn at the water point sign, from the west turn at the Rudall River sign.

The old water pump site is in a patch of ghost gums and a great spot to camp in the shade. Unfortunately, the bore no longer has a pump so the water isn’t accessible. Once past here, the corrugations really kick in and last for about 30km. I know I harp on about dropping your tyre pressures, but it works and will save you from expensive repair bills. The ride is easier on your suspension and anything else bolted to your 4WD, and physically your hands, arms and shoulders aren’t being severely jolted all the time.

Prado, one owner, freshly painted, ready for quick sale

The Martu Aboriginal people have inhabited this region for thousands of years

A Prado was left parked on the track, complete with a backyard ute conversion including roll bar installation. Check out the photos for this rad-looking vehicle. As you skirt the Fingoon Range the track changes to a hard base with occasional stones. The vistas through here are amazing.

Rudall River was named by explorer Frank Hann after he ran into government surveyor William Rudall, who was searching for a couple of lost members of the Calvert Scientific Expedition. Rudall walked the entire length of the river but came up empty. The Martu are the traditional owners of the land and know the upper reaches of the river as Waturarra and the lower reaches as Karlamilyi. Rudall River National Park is Western Australia’s largest national park and was renamed Karlamilyi in 2008 to recognise the significance to the Martu Aboriginal people.

The Rudall River crossing is wide and sandy; stick to the wheel tracks and you will be fine

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The track into the Desert Queen Baths is a great opportunity to lock it in low range and go slow; in fact, the track conditions demand it. As you move through the valley, the sun shines on the range just right and you’ll need to take care not to wander from the track as you’re taken in by nature’s beauty.

Caught in the middle of a Beadell Tour convoy, it was different to not being alone. It was refreshing to listen to the chatter over the UHF and the pace was just perfect. Cresting the rise, I was surprised by just how many campers there were, my plan to relax for a few days in peace thwarted. I was able to find a spot to camp, not the best spot but my options were restricted. The camping area was highly popular as the CSR was closed between Wells 25 and 33 with water on the track.

The Goanna Pool is the perfect place to just sit

Having set up, I decided to check out the walk into the Desert Queen Baths. This walk is not for the unfit or unbalanced – physically, not mentally. There’s a lot of rock hopping and the track is hardly defined, in fact, it was quite difficult to work out how to get to the correct side to get around the Goanna Pool, the first pool. Once sorted (I followed others), I progressed far enough to check out some rock art and a large beehive, honeycomb stretching down the cliff face in layers.

Returning to camp, I spent the next couple of hours showing off my Prado to several people interested in my set-up. I also ran into Grant Hanan and Linda Bloffwitch from My Aussie Travel Guide and fellow contributors to Unsealed 4X4 and RV Daily. We talked shop by the campfire for a couple of hours before it was time to hit the swag.

Golden hour lit up the escarpments

BELOW A plaque left by prospectors in the 1930s

ABOVE This is the only sign that tells you where the Desert Queen Baths are

I was up early the next morning, but not early enough to capture an explosive sunrise – bugger. I’m still struggling with the two-hour time difference between WA and home. The billy was boiled, coffee inhaled and then I set off to explore the gorge better – or so I thought.

I was hopping from rock to rock, closing in on the second of the Desert Queen Baths, when I was hit on the neck by a young kamikaze bee. As he dropped to the ground, mortally wounded by his aggressive tactics, I quickly scraped the stinger from my neck. Not having been stung before, I decided to return to camp as quickly as I could. I swallowed an anti-histamine tablet and sat for a little while, relieved there were no allergic reactions. I had been told about an aggressive hive on the opposite of the creek to the one I checked out yesterday, but I figured it was early in the morning and cold, so the angry bees would be more docile. I figured wrong.

The flowers were enjoying some moisture

These camels were distressed at being separated from the mob

The drive out was as awesome as the drive in

As more campers arrived into camp, and spots of rain began to turn the dust on my windscreen into muck, it was time to check out Tjingkulatjatjarra (Jarra) and Watrara Pools permanent waterholes on the Rudall River. The spots of rain continued as I again enjoyed the drive out of the gorge, but gave way as the sun broke through.

A mob of 30 or so camels were grazing in the distance, but a couple were close, so I fired off some shots (from the camera – ha). The turnoff to the pools is signified by a drum and the going is slow along the rough old track. It pays to have good mapping software so that the right tracks are taken. There are a few off-shoots that can mistakenly be taken, something I witnessed as a vehicle took the wrong turn and disappeared from UHF range for a while, scaring the crap out of their travelling companions.

"I was hopping from rock to rock, closing in on the second of the Desert Queen Baths, when I was hit on the neck by a young kamikaze bee."

ABOVE The first of the Desert Queen Baths was as far as I got before I was mindlessly attacked

Arriving at Watrara Pool, the Beadell Tour were just finishing lunch and another group were camped by the river. It was a magical spot; ghost gums lined the rocky banks, and the waterhole has a sandy base. Perfect for a swim on a hot day, a picnic lunch or a few days camped, just you and the wildlife. I suggest basing yourself here and doing day trips into Desert Queen Baths. The camping is better, quieter and more private.

Sure, Karlamilyi is remote and yes you need to be prepared for anything, but as its popularity grows there won’t be too many times that you will be the only one there, especially during the travel season. I highly recommend you allow some time to really soak up the offerings of this national park; you won’t regret it.

Good set of boots and some ability is required

Watrara Pool was a place for reflection

The rugged outcrops are what make this such an amazing place

Perfect place for a campfire

DESTINATION DETAILS
WHERE: East Pilbara. Access from Newman is via the Talawana Track and is 700km return plus detours. From Marble Bar travel via the Telfer Mine Road before taking the track south into the park, a distance of approximately 400km to get to Desert Queen Baths.

SUPPLIES & FACILITIES: Fuel and supplies are available from Newman or Marble Bar. Fuel and limited supplies are available at Parnngurr. Times are generally Monday to Friday daylight hours and Saturday morning.

CAMPING: There’s camping at Watrara and Jarra Pools and Desert Queen Baths. There are no facilities within the park, take out what you take in, leave only footprints, take only photos.

BEST TIME: Milder months from May to September.

TRIP STANDARD: As per Hema’s 4WD Adventures Atlas: Top 100 Journeys and Getaways, “All roads are a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Expect sand, severe corrugations, eroded gullies, water courses and rocky terrain.”

You’ll need to be self-reliant, have suitable recovery gear, satellite phone/HF Radio, EPIRB, remote first aid kit, extra food and water. Travelling solo is not recommended.

PERMITS: No permits are required for Karlamilyi National Park unless you intend to gain access via Parnngurr. Contact details are here.

MORE INFO: Drones are not permitted to be flown in any national park in the Pilbara.