After climbing out of Weano Gorge we set our sights on Hancock Gorge. This is named after Lang Hancock, the co-discoverer of the massive iron ore deposits in this region. The story goes that he was flying his small plane over the ranges and suddenly the compass dipped, due to the presence of magnetic iron ore. He landed, discovered it and made a fortune.
Not strictly true (and I should know as I did site tours for Rio Tinto for years). He did notice the anomaly and saw the dark colours of the ore bands but it was surveying with his partner and friend Peter Wright that eventually revealed the magnitude of the ore deposits there. Wikipedia has an article on Lang Hancock but it leaves out a lot of the salient points, including the fact that his ex-partner’s family took legal action, based on the unfair distribution of ore royalties; understandably Wiki pages can be edited by anybody and Hancock’s family have a great deal of political and economic clout in Western Australia – his daughter is now the richest woman in Australia.
Anyway, Hancock Gorge was named after Lang Hancock and it is a very narrow gorge, with the walls coming together so much that some areas require what is called ‘spider walking’ to access them. Spider walking consists of making your way down the gorge by using your feet and hands as supports on opposite sides of the gorge – you need three points of contact in order to have enough tension support to remain straddled across each side. There is a water flow at the bottom, mostly too steep to wade through.
Eventually you come to an area where the gorge widens again and there is a deep, narrow pool of an amazing green colour. It has the nickname ‘Kermit’s Pool’ and is icy cold as it maybe gets twenty minutes of sunshine a day. The jade green colour of the pool only shows to its true advantage when the sun is shining on it.
It is a bit of an effort to get there but well worth the scramble. The gorge does continue on afterwards but, again, you are barred access due to the numerous people that have got into trouble over the years. There is a sign board somewhere that explains the time between having problems and being rescued – approximately twelve hours; easily enough to die of hypothermia.
This is the start of the Spider Walk. We didn’t take photos down there because the light was fairly bad and the pool didn’t look like anything special, being out of the sun.
This is the gorge where it widens out, before the Spider Walk.
But if you are interested to know what it looks like in the sunlight (photo Jan Fijolek, an amazing West Australian photographer)
After this, back to camp. Mid afternoon beers, snacks and lounging around. Pure bliss.