The region through which we were now traveling is called the Pilbara. The Pilbara is a large (197,000 square miles), rugged, and remote region of northwestern Western Australia where both the Hamersley and Chichester Ranges are located. It is arid and can be on the warm side. In fact, Marble Bar, a town in the Pilbara, is famous as one of Australia’s hottest spots, with daytime temperatures from October to May often exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most of the settlement in the Pilbara revolves around mining (minerals found in the area include gold, tin, copper, talc, iron, manganese, magnesium, silver, beryllium, columbite, asbestos, and tantalite). However, the remarkable geology, ecology, remoteness, and beauty of the place draw a fair number of tourists to the region, as well.
We were there to enjoy the area’s geological and scenic delights—and the Pilbara did not disappoint. The Hamersley Range is thought to have been the first part of the earth’s crust to cool. It is wildly colorful, thanks to the wide range of minerals, but red is the color that predominates. It is the many gorges that cut through the range that are the biggest attraction for adventurers and photographers, though I found the surrounding spinifex-dotted landscape to be mighty pleasing as well.
Dales Gorge was the second gorge we visited, and the first where one had to climb down into the gorge. We started at the end of the gorge were Fortescue Falls cascades down a series of stone “steps” into clear pools on the gorge floor. This waterfall is remarkable for this region because it flows year-round.
I loved the sight of the waterfall (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have a great fondness for falling water), but at this spot, I was even more captivated by the rocks. The colors were remarkable, but so were the shapes. I loved the way the stone walls looked in places as if they had been carefully cut, rather than simply worn and broken. The photo below, taken when I was about half way down the gorge wall, shows both a portion of the lovely falls and some of the surprising rock shapes that delighted me.