Fortescue Falls

Karijini National Park / Tom Price, Western Australia, Australia

About Fortescue Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.6km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2006-06-11
Date last visited: 2006-06-11

Waterfall Latitude: -22.47778
Waterfall Longitude: 118.5508

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Fortescue Falls seemed to Julie and I to be a tropical oasis in the middle of the remote and unforgiving desert-like Pilbara Region.

What made this oasis so picturesque in our minds were the vibrant red cliffs surrounding the colourful and clear water with some green vegetation all under cloudless blue skies.

Fortescue_Falls_027_06102006 - Fortescue Falls
Fortescue Falls

It was actually a rare year-round waterfall in the Dales Gorge area of Karijini National Park.

And it was that year-round flow of the waterfall’s creek that invited a handful of people to go for a dip and cool off from the heat and humidity of the area.

Note that we showed up during the start of the Dry Season so I can’t imagine how much muggier it would get had we showed up during the Wet Season!

In addition to the miracle of a reliable waterfall in this part of the Australian Outback, there were other springs and pools nearby.

This provided other options to spend time in the Dales Gorge part of Karijini National Park.

For example, we noticed signs leading to the Circular Pool, Fern Pool, etc., which I’d imagine provided opportunities for a refreshing dip or seeing other parts besides Fortescue Falls.

As for the miraculous Fortescue Falls itself, it was said to tumble some 20m in cumulative height over a series of red rock benches or steps.

This gave the falls a character and attractiveness that was quite unique amongst all the other waterfalls in Australia that we had seen so far.

In fact, despite its remote location (being about 4.5 hours south of Port Hedland and over 8 hours east of Coral Bay), we were amazed to still see dozens of people going out-of-the-way to make it all the way here.

Experiencing Fortescue Falls

Fortescue_Falls_044_06102006 - Contextual view of Fortescue Falls and its plunge pool surrounded by the bright red rock Dales Gorge
Contextual view of Fortescue Falls and its plunge pool surrounded by the bright red rock Dales Gorge

From the car park for Fortescue Falls and the Circular Pool (see directions below), we took an easy-to-follow 800m trail on red sand, which eventually led us to an overlook area.

It was from the overlook that we were able to get a good contextual view of the falls and its inviting pool.

Then, the track continued down into the Dales Gorge where we were descending along a ledge towards the top of the falls.

At that point, we then did some additional class 2 or 3 scrambling on the red rock benches to get all the way down to the plunge pool and the base of the falls.

The view you see in the photograph at the top of this page came from this spot.

We lingered here for a little over an hour, but a large chunk of that time was spent taking photos and just basking in the glorious scene.

It seemed like our mid-morning arrival was a good time of day to experience the falls though it certainly seemed like it would be good all afternoon as well.

Fortescue_Falls_042_06102006 - View of the Fortescue Falls while we were descending and ascending the class 2/3 scramble
View of the Fortescue Falls while we were descending and ascending the class 2/3 scramble

Perhaps the biggest benefit of our morning arrival was that it was relatively quiet.

However, that didn’t last for long as the popularity of the falls definitely was apparent with the arrival of more people as the morning wore on.


Fortescue Falls resides in Karijini National Park near Tom Price in Western Australia. It is administered jointly by the Western Australia Government with the Banjima, Innawongka, and Eastern Guruma People. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Pilbara_010_06102006 - On the remote Karijini Drive as we were approaching the turnoff for Banjima Drive
Fortescue_Falls_001_06102006 - Julie on the red-sanded trail leading us closer to the Dales Gorge
Fortescue_Falls_005_06102006 - Looking down at Fortescue Falls on the approach
Fortescue_Falls_007_06102006 - Getting closer to Fortescue Falls as we were descending into the gorge
Fortescue_Falls_008_06102006 - Julie on the ledge trail descending towards the top of Fortescue Falls
Fortescue_Falls_010_06102006 - We were now amongst the vegetation as we got even closer to the top of Fortescue Falls
Fortescue_Falls_019_06102006 - We finally made it to the base of Fortescue Falls
Fortescue_Falls_031_06102006 - Another look at the serene Fortescue Falls from its base

Fortescue Falls sits in Karijini National Park, which is some 340km (over 4 hours drive) south of Port Hedland and some 100km (over 90 minutes drive) east of Tom Price (which is a rougher mining town and one that we happened to stay at) or Paraburdoo (which might be better suited for tourists as we saw a tour bus there). Karijini Drive connected the Great Northern Highway (skirting the eastern boundary of the park) with Tom Price or Paraburdoo.

The sealed Banjima Drive is about 30km west on Karijini Drive from the Great Northern Highway or around 80km east of the Paraburdoo-Tom Price Road. Once on Banjima Drive, the car park for the falls is reached by a well-signed spur on the right to the Dales Gorge, which is an additional 10km drive east.

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Tagged with: karijini, tom price, paraburdoo, pilbara, port hedland, outback, western australia, australia, waterfall, mining, circular pool, fern pool, dales

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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