Hamersley Range

The book is almost ready to be printed. The cover is done, and I’ve seen the proofs. So by this time next month, I may be able to announce the book’s release. Once the book is in print, this site will focus primarily on sharing photos that illustrate the book and relating other travels, including my three return trips to Australia. But that’s still in the future. For now, here’s another excerpt from the book. I’d traveled from Darwin across the top of Western Australia, and had joined a camping tour. We spent a couple of days in the Hamersley Range, thought by some to be one of the first parts of the earth’s crust to cool! It is criss-crossed by gorges, many of which we visited.

Leaving Hamersley Gorge, we continued to drive through a dramatic landscape of red, gold, and green. Our next stop was at Oxer’s Lookout, which overlooks a great, deep, sheer-sided hole where Weano, Hancock, Joffre, and Red Gorges come together like a titan pinwheel.

We stood for a while on the brink of the cluster of gorges, then skirted the rim of Weano Gorge until we came to the steep, narrow path that leads to the bottom. Only a few members of the group tackled the 300-foot descent, but those of us who ventured down into the gorge were abundantly repaid for our efforts. We descended into the widest part of the gorge, where the walls are rough and offer good handholds and relatively easy climbing.

The vegetation in Weano Gorge was sparse, with a few flowering bushes standing amid shaggy tufts and straggles of golden grass. The dry grass often rustled as we approached, and we would see little lizards that had been sunning on the rocks disappear into the safety of the brush.

As we continued along the floor of the gorge, the ragged, red walls began to close in on both sides. Soon we were winding through a narrow, undulating passage where there was only a thin strip of light far overhead. The walls of the crevice now rose cool and purple, in smooth, water-sculpted ripples. We climbed over slabs and plates of shattered rock, as we followed the twisting path, trying to avoid the spots where trickles of water made the well-worn stone slippery.

We emerged from the long, dark channel into a bright opening. A clear, jade-green pool filled the space where the chasm suddenly widened and dropped dramatically. Here the walls were again red and rugged, rising straight up out of the water on all sides. The narrow passage continued on the far side of the pool, but was submerged.

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