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Tom Price: Desert Harmony
 
karijiniTravel far into the centre of Western Australia and you will find endless miles of desert scenery for as far as the eye can see. The earth here has cracked under the sun and it is covered in spartan vegetation that is lurking with hardy outback critters. Everything here appears larger than life because it's as if Mother Nature has worked her hardest to keep this land free of habitation. But she isn't always successful, and anomalies like the small town of Tom Price exist to prove it.

This town blends in with the rest of this region and is at peace with the environment. It is near some of the state's most magical and intriguing natural and geographical features and is the ideal base for exploration of this remote part of Australia. Tom Price is a diverse and intriguing place to visit, but be aware that it does get tough out here so you should come prepared.

Positioned 1553 kilometres north of Perth, Tom Price rests among the Hammersley Ranges at the base of Mt Nameless, which is the state's highest peak. Offering a stunning backdrop to the town, this mountain is accessible by four wheel drive and once you reach the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the mining site, the town and the surrounding valleys and mountains. Bushwalking is also extremely popular on this mountain and there are a number of demarcated trails to the summit, with magnificent views at every turn. If you are here to simply relax and take it easy, then just enjoy some quiet time in the prettiest town in the Pilbara Region. Its tree lined streets and country town atmosphere are complemented by modern facilities, ensuring you have everything you may want to enjoy your holiday.

The Hammersley Ranges are an ancient weathered range that enjoy dramatic landscapesof high peaks and deep gorges with multi layered, colourful walls. They are protected by the Karijini National Park, which holds status as the second largest park in Western Australia. This park essentially acts as a backyard for the locals, but the tourists see it as the ultimate holiday attraction. There are a number of tours on offer that will take you to the far reaches of the park, and day trips and longer tours are also available. There are camping grounds and picnic sites scattered throughout the park, and always remember to take lots of water in these hot conditions.

It's hard to decide where to go in the Park, but the friendly staff at the Tom Price Visitor Centre should be able to help you out. The centre is easy to find on Central Road. so drive by and just pop in for a chat, and make use of the free accommodation booking service. They will probably point you in the direction of Dales Gorge first, where you can see the stunning Fortescue Falls, a year round, spring fed waterfall that falls 20 metres down a series of red rock steps, as if its descending a staircase! A ten minute walk away from here you will discover Fern Pool, a deep natural pool with flat rock banks that are ideal for sun baking! If you are feeling energetic then the 3 hour round walk to Circular Pool is a chance for some exercise and to get back in touch with nature, as well as for a swim in the pool.

The high peaks that surround Tom Price mean that there are some fantastic lookout points. The Oxer Lookout is one of the best rated in the country. Viewing of four immense gorges converging together can be experienced here, creating a grandiose centre of geological activity. 100 metres down glimmers crystal clear, fresh water at the bottom of the cliff face, enticing you into a refreshing dip... if you can tear yourself away from the panoramic view! Joffre Gorge Lookout is another unusual place to visit as it is a gorge that has curved walls that create a natural amphitheatre. After heavy rain the water cascades in a sheet down this face.

Tom Price may seem like it is in the middle of nowhere but this is essentially what makes it so appealing. Visiting this amazing place will allow you to re-acquaint yourself with nature and completely forget about your life at home.

Christine Barton




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