Rodney Campbell's Blog

Hancock Gorge…

by on Jan.15, 2016, under Life, Photography

Hancock Gorge is a challenging walk that is described as a ‘Journey to the centre of the earth’. You can see and feel the highly polished rocks on your way through Spider Walk and on down to Kermit’s Pool.

Hancock Gorge is for very experienced bushwalkers. A flat, Class 2 trail leads from the car park to the Hanock Gorge trail-head sign. This trail showcases gorge-top vegetation. From the large trail head sign, there is a Class 4 trail that leads to the edge of the gorge and the top of a vertical ladder. Class 4 finishes here. From the ladder down into the gorge is Class 5, and is suitable for very experienced bushwalkers only.

Waders Paradise

Waders Paradise

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 2.5 sec at f/16, ISO 100

Pro Tip: If you are coming to Karijini National Park and you can only go to one place then visiting the Weano Recreation Area is it. My two most highly recommended gorges would be Hancock Gorge (& Spider Walk & Kermits Pool) and Weono Gorge (& Handrail Pool). These are both spectacular and I’d be hard pressed to choose just one. However if you could only do one gorge walk then do Weano and make sure you go down the handrail to Handrail Pool.

Weano Recreation Area

Weano Recreation Area

Weano Recreation Area

Pro Tip: I’d recommend the best time to go down and shoot in Hancock Gorge would be early to mid morning. Depending on the time of the year it will require getting your feet wet and may require a little wading (in my case up to my thighs) if you’re not willing to spend ages trying to find a way to skirt around the sides of the gorges where the water gets deeper. I started down at around 7:45AM (about 70 minutes after sunrise) and I was the first and only person down here this morning. The first tourist to arrive at Kermit’s Pool (where I was at the time) was at 10AM (more than two hours later).

Before coming away on this trip I’d done my research on Karijini and spoke in detail with some friends who’d shot here before (Peter Eastway, Adam Williams) and Paul Pichugin.

One of the items I invested in and brought with me was a Dry Bag – in my case I got this backpack version from Overboard. This enabled me to put all my gear in the bag (Camera, Lenses, filters, remote, spare clothes, food, etc) and have my water bottle and tripod on the sides. It’s not absolutely necessary to have a dry bag for most of the gorges (even Hancock). What it does let you do however is not worry about your gear getting wet so you can happily wade through sections of the gorge which is much much quicker than trying to carefully inch your way around the sides worrying that you might drop your gear into the water. Frankly with limited time down there I’d rather spend twice as much time shooting.

The image up at the top is about 15 minutes walk in and is the first major area where you might wade. You “can” try skirting along the sides but it’s very narrow and slippery – chance of slipping and falling and getting hurt at 50%.

The stitched panorama below is just past the long wading section (on the left of this) and this shows the bend which leads into what is called the Spider Walk (to the right).

Now you may be thinking that we’ve slipped into an episode of Harry Potter and we’re about to walk through an area infested with Giant spiders… but you’d be wrong. It is son named because at some points, the walls get so close (less than one metre wide), that you can only pass it like a spider, with your legs and hands left and right and the water flowing beneath you. Frankly you “can” do this to avoid getting your feet wet but I ended up just walking along the bottom in the water because it was much easier and faster :).

Hancock Bend

Hancock Bend

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm, 4 sec at f/16, ISO 100 x 9 Frames

This is a stitch of nine (9) vertical frames taken at 8:15AM.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

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