We tried to make a fairly early getaway from our overnight stop with Alberto as we'd read that it was a good idea to get to Karijini early in the day so as to avoid the disappointment of missing out on a campsite.
It was a relatively short drive to get to Dales Campground (situated near Dales Gorge in the National Park) and we needn't have worried - when we arrived we could have had the pick of almost any site. It really felt like tourist season must be winding down, with the campground fairly empty and the weather quite hot. By the evening it had certainly filled up a little more but was nowhere near full.
With most of the day in front of us, we set up camp, ate some morning tea, and headed for the visitor information centre about 15 km away. We ended up spending a couple of hours there, partly because it was out of the sun but also because it had plenty of interesting info about the history of the area (aboriginal and European) and the kids had been given a booklet to complete in order to receive a Junior Ranger badge. This certainly seemed to work to motivate them to take more of an interest in the displays - they all received their badge! The visitor centre was also the only place in the area with showers, so I took the shower which was necessary to rinse some laundry which needed doing (not as bad as Young Einstein doing the dishes in the bath, if I remember the movie correctly).
After a late lunch we got into our togs, put our walking packs on and headed down to Foortescue Falls for a swim. The falls are a relatively short but steep walk down into Dales Gorge. We were rewarded with a cool swim as the late afternoon sun lit up the red rock gorge walls above us. The girls (including Sal) also had great fun on some of the gently sloping, moss covered rocks in the shallows - standing up and sliding down on their feet, seeing who could stay upright the longest before falling into the water.
The nights here were beautifully cool - just enough to want to pull the doona up at some point during the night. We slept well.
On our second day we'd decided to do the full circuit, a walk which we started from the top of the gorge where we'd been the afternoon before and headed along the top of the gorge to a couple of lookouts; then down a steep descent (including a ladder at one point) into the gorge to Circular Pool for a swim; then tracking back along the bottom of the gorge to Fortescue Falls and a little further to Fern Pool for another swim; and we finished by coming back to Fortescue Falls (where the kids swam again!) and up to the start.
The walk was suggested as a three hour loop but we made it last for six by enjoying the water and taking plenty of food. The water at Circular Pool was as icy cold as anything else we've swum in, but so refreshing. The rocks around this area were rich with colour, especially yellow ochre and the kids enjoyed putting their hand prints on the rock with this. Along at Fern Pool there were a lot more people, the water was warmer and we used our goggles to watch the fish under the water.
Needless to say, we slept well after all this.