A picturesque desert escape: discover the beauty of Fern Pool Karijini
A stunning oasis hidden among desert, Fern Pool is one of Karijini’s numerous picturesque swimming holes and a must-visit if you plan to be up north.
The idyllic location is often snapped for an Insta feed post or two, and you’ve probably scrolled past a few times eyeing it off enviously. And the photos don’t lie- this spot truly is picture-perfect, with striking red rock formations and dazzling turquoise waters that will have you mesmerized.
If you were looking for your sign to take a trip and visit, this is it.
Where is Fern Pool?
You’ll find Fern Pool in Karijini surrounded by the region’s iconic gorges, rugged landscape, and ancient rock.
Karijini is about a 15-hour drive up the Great Northern Highway, or you can take a flight to Newman or Paraburdoo and drive the rest of the way. To find the pool, you need to head to Fortescue Falls Car Park, descend the staircase into the ancient cavernous gorge and then hike about 300m upstream. It’s not a super hard walk, but it is rated as a Class 4 hiking spot which does recommend a bit more experience walking through the bush.
Vehicle-wise, Karijini can technically be accessed by 2WD, but it’s recommended to hop in a 4WD in this area to avoid getting stuck as the terrain can be tough.
The name here speaks for itself, considering the beautiful natural pool is surrounded by ferns on every side.
The area of ancient gorges was formed about 2.5 million years ago as layers of sediments on the ocean floor were put under extreme pressure, eventually turning into rock and later exposed when sea levels dropped.
It is also a sacred place for the Banjima people, holding significance as a women’s place where the Creator Serpent lived after winding through the land and creating the rivers and gorges of the Pilbara.
Can you swim in Fern Pool?
Fern Pool is fed by a natural spring, so the water is completely safe to take a nice relaxing dip in. Framed on all sides by lush greenery and complete with a cascading waterfall, it’s one of the most beautiful swimming spots in WA.
Are there crocodiles at Karijini?
Given it’s so far inland, you won’t catch any crocodiles out in Karijini. You’ll be able to swim here totally croc free.
What to do here
As mentioned before, this is a place of major importance to the Banjima people, and you’re more than welcome to swim – just don’t go splashing about and making heaps of noise. Take your time floating around and soaking in the gorgeous natural scenery. This is a place to be quiet, respectful and contemplative.
There are also endless surroundings to explore. You can find the Circular Pool swimming hole at the other end of Dales Gorge, and Fortescue Falls halfway along the gorge making it easy to combine the three, or you can explore an abundance of colourful wildflowers if you visit in the cooler months.
In terms of other must-visit Karijini items, you may want to go check out Knox Gorge and Joffre Falls nearby which offer crazy good views of the unique landscape. You’ll also find the Gorge Walk here, a challenging hike that can take up to three hours to complete, so do so only if you feel up for it.
Things not to do
To stress this again – show respect to the area. That means no jumping in. Not only is it considered disrespectful to traditional owners, but you also run the risk of hitting a submerged object.
Obviously, this is not like having a swim at the beach or in your own backyard, so there are some risks involved. Gorge pools can be a lot deeper than you think, and freshwater is much less buoyant than salt, so swim within your limits and keep an eye on your friends. You should also leave if it starts raining, as flash flooding can occur.
Don’t visit this area after sunset. It can be very dangerous and you won’t be able to follow the tricky trails in darkness.
There are 4G towers installed at the Eco Retreat, campgrounds, and visitor’s centre, but don’t rely on having reception and plan accordingly.
Finally, as with visiting any natural area, don’t leave any rubbish behind, look after the surrounding area and be respectful of local wildlife and plant life.
Where to camp?
If you do want to stay in the area, the closest spot is Dales Gorge Campground. This provides caravan and tent sites for travellers, and also includes toilet and gas BBQ facilities.
Otherwise, you can hit up Karijini Eco Retreat for a bit more of a luxurious experience with stylish glamping in safari-style eco tents, cabins, and campsites.
Best time to visit Fern Pool?
The best time to head to Karijini is from May to September, during the late autumn, winter, and early spring months when it’s experiencing dry season and pleasant temperatures.
Feature Image: @_dontwannagohome_