The ebb and flow of the seasons - The effects of rain on an arid land.

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 17:06


One of the benefits of visiting a particular area on an almost yearly basis is that it allows you to grasp the influence that the seasons, good and bad, have on the region. For me this is never more evident than on my visits to the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park in the rugged Pilbara.

I fell in love with the rugged beauty of the place on my first visit to the area in July, 2006. Since then I’ve returned every year but one, introducing friends to some of my favourite places & exploring and discovering new ones. Remember that I travel from Melbourne and put that into context regarding distance, London is closer to Cairo than I am to the Desert Queen Baths!

Karlamilyi straddles an interesting geographical position. Being on the transition of the Little Sandy and Great Sandy Deserts, the park comprises arid desert plains and dunes as well as the last vestiges of the rugged Pilbara. It's here that the the red iron and sandstone of the Throssell and Broadhurst ranges give way to the relentless parallel dunes of the Deserts.

Weather wise, Karlamilyi occupies a unique position. While the area is classified as arid, on occasion it can be subject to the monsoonal wets and cyclones of the Kimberley. This means that huge volumes of rain can arrive in the space of a few days or even hours in some cases. Four or more inches falling in an afternoon is not unheard of. The runoff from the hills and ranges must be spectacular and I have witnessed the damage caused to creek beds and tracks by tumultuous rains from one year to the next . In other years the region can go with little or no rain. The effects on the flora and wildlife of the park is extreme.

Last year, 2013, we were privileged enough to have arrived after solid rains had soaked the entire region. The park exploded in a riot of colour and life. Over the past eight years I have never witnessed so much water about the park. Many of the soaks and waterholes had absorbed so much moisture that they were able to maintain surface water for an extended period. The Watrara Creek and Rudall River had become a series of extended waterholes. Plant life exploded and so did the wildlife coming in to take advantage of both the water and the abundant grasses and vegetation.

Through EO I found out that one couple were lucky enough to be in the area in early June when the heavens opened for two days. Camped at Tjarra Pool on the Rudall River, Ray and Lesley Lahainer were forced to uproute their camp and move inland as the normal tranquil water hole swelled to a raging torrent. While I’m sure it didn't seem too “lucky” at the time, it’s an event that’s rarely witnessed and I was very happy to receive photos from Ray which add a rarely seen dimension to the ebb and flow of life in our arid outback. My thanks to Ray and Lesley for permission to use their photos.

Please enjoy these photos that show the extremes of climate and conditions on a few of my favourite Karlamilyi locations.

Tjinkultjatjarra (Tjarra) Pool

(note the gnarly old gum as a reference point. We usually camp by this tree)

July 2009

July 2012

June 2013 - The deluge (With thanks to Ray and Lesley Lahainer)

July, 2013

Curran Curran Rockhole

Klaken Kalkan Soak

Yandagooge Gap

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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