Shortly after New Year’s a two-week trip took me to Australia. In Hobart on Tasmania I worked with my scientific OceanRAIN instrumentation onboard two ships for an Antarctic expedition. The other week I used for a short tour to Western Australia to explore the spectacular ancient gorges of Karijini’s banded iron formation.
As for the summer in Karijini, I expected harsh conditions. It turned out, however, that this was a serious understatement. Located in the northwest of Australia, Karijini offers not only some of the oldest rock formations in the world, but also the photographic conditions are difficult, to put it mildly. The enormous heat of the Australian summer is hard to bear. Temperatures reach well over 40°C (110°F) each day without any shade.
The combination with the frequent and intense thunderstorms leads to an unbearably high humidity. These thunderstorms immediately lead to flooding of the offroad trails by turning them into reddish brown rivers. Moreover, they block the access to the beautiful gorges. These flash floods can then occur at any time in these deep and narrow canyons, making the stay in them life-threatening. The advantage of the summer season, however, is that the number of visitors is low and the sky provides fascinating storm clouds, lightning spectacles and light conditions. As expected, one week was far too little time for these gorges and only allowed to preview the terrain. Unbelievable what would be possible in this enchanted region with more time.
A return to this amazing landscape in summer, however, requires a proper and sturdy SUV and a lot of time, to allow access to the gorges between thunderstorms. An enthusiastic travel companion will also help to bear the heat and the flies.
I am more than grateful for the great people I met. Most of them were backpackers travelling in their jeeps. The others were car mechanics who constantly tried to revive my unreliable Nissan Xtrail, and always with great success! They were all charming, warm-hearted and selfless in helping me wherever they could. Without them the few photos of this tour would not have been possible.