Step back in time 420 million years ago at Kalbarri National Park in Western Australia. Home to iconic river-carved gorges & fossilised rock formations.
When there are public holiday long weekends in Western Australia, many of us here love to go on quick road trips. Our state boasts so many national parks that we are truly spoiled for choice, and in addition, here in Perth – a 3+ hour drive is really nothing to us at all. After all, Western Australia is the biggest state in Australia, so we’re used to driving here, and driving alot! So for the Queens Birthday long weekend that just passed, I went on a short road trip up north to Coalseam Conservation Park and Kalbarri!
??? ABOUT KALBARRI REGION ?? ? ?
Kalbarri is the ultimate adventure playground that’s part of Australia’s Coral Coast.
Located 6 1/2 hours from Perth, it’s blessed with warm and sunny weather for most of the year, featuring the unique Murchison river, magnificent coastal cliffs and ancient, rugged inland gorge landscapes. It’s a very popular destination for mini road trips, as Kalbarri is especially family friendly with budget accommodation, dining options, supermarkets, playgrounds and a foreshore.
What makes Kalbarri so unique is its two very distinctly different landscapes. East of town are inland river gorges with rock formations as old as 400 million years (you’ll see pictures of this below from my time at Kalbarri National Park), while the south features towering ocean cliffs plummeting to the waves below, along with gorgeous white sandy beaches.
Fishing and swimming are popular activities here, with Horrocks Beach and Houtman Abrolhos Islands (a chain of 122 islands and coral reefs 60km offshore from Kalbarri) being main attractions to also scuba diving enthusiasts. Other activities are hiring a paddleboard or Kayak on the Murcishon River, joining a cannoning and abseiling tour, or hiking/trail walking through the rigged outback in Kalbarri National Park.
Pink Lake is nearby (the nickname of ‘Hutt Lagoon’), a salt lake with a pink hue due to the presence of carotenoid producing algae, Dunaliella salina, which is a source of beta-carotene used as food-colouring agent and source of Vit-A in cosmetics and supplements. I visited this locally famous Pink Lake and wrote a blog on it. You can read that here.
? ? WHEN TO PLAN YOUR TRIP TO KALBARRI? ❓?
You should plan your trip to coincide with the wildflower season (July to October) like my boyfriend and I did. During wildflower season, Kalbarri and surrounding regions become an eye-popping wonder of over 1100 varieties of Western Australian wildflowers which transform the outback into a sea of beautiful colours. Rather than drive the whole way up the coast to Kalbarri, we took a detour through the inland roads of’Wildflower Country’ and it’s a beautiful sight. Plus, we went in Spring, so it wasn’t excruciatingly hot either.
If you love your whale-watching, then again aim to go between June and November, because that’s when humpback whales and their calves pass by Kalbarri’s coast on their annual migration. I’m absolutely delighted to say that we got to see some of the whales pass by while we sat watching them from the high coastal cliffs. It was the highlight experience for both of us on the whole trip. It was really special.
I’ll write another blog on Kalbarri’s coastal cliff attractions with pics on that whale-watching experience soon. Until then… let’s now focus on Kalbarri National Park and Nature’s Window!
?ABOUT KALBARRI NATIONAL PARK ?
Regarded as one of Western Australia’s best known parks, Kalbarri National Park is a short 11km drive out from Kalbarri town. It boasts scenic gorges with inland rivers, and millions of years old red & white banded sandstone cliffs.
The 186,000 hectare park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River (the second longest river in WA at 820km long), which has cut a magnificent 80 km gorge through the red and white banded sandstone to create formations such as Nature’s Window & The Loop, Z-Bend and Hawks Head, with gorgeous scenic views at the Ross Graham Lookout and views of the town and river mouth at Meanarra Hill.
What makes Kalbarri National Park so attractive for visitors is scenic and photographic opportunities, picnicking, abseiling, rafting and canoeing (only after heavy rains) and hiking trails. Kalbarri’s wildflowers are best in Spring and early summer, and this is when it’s not too hot to appreciate them.
Important Things to Know Before You Go:
- The park is for day use only with entry fees to pay: $12 per vehicle, $6 concession and $6 motorcycle. (fees go back into the maintenance of the park and public facilities).
- Rough roads: The access road is only sealed for the first 12km, so trailers and vans are not recommended. You can use the trailer parking area 200m ahead of the entry station.
- No Camping or Fires allowed. Click here for allowed camping/caravan areas.
- Heat can kill! The gorge can get extremely hot, reaching 50°C (122°F) in summer. Deaths have occurred here, so be prepared.
- Bring Drinking Water: there is no drinking water available in the park, so you’ll need to bring 3 to 4 litres per person, per day when walking. Wear a long sleeved shirt and a hat.
- If Hiking: Due to the hazardous terrain, groups undertaking long hikes should consist of at least 5 experienced people with overnight groups needing to notify the park ranger before and after completing the hike. Wear study shoes and stick to the track, be aware of loose surfaces and undercut cliff ledges.
- Yes, there are toilets in the park, and a barbecue facility.
- No Pets – they disturb the parks wildlife and they aren’t allowed to be left inside vehicles either!
You really do feel like you’re all alone in the middle of the Australian outback inside the park (when really, you’re not that far from civilization at all). You also can’t help but think to yourself how the traditional custodians of the land here, the Nhanda people, managed to survive in such a beautiful, but very harsh and dangerous landscape.
The beautiful reality is, once you enter Kalbarri National Park, you are actually taking a journey back in time, 420 million years ago. The geology of the area is fascinating. The thinly bedded, red and white banded rocks you will see through most of the river gorge was deposited millions of years ago on tidal flats. Rippled surfaces were formed during ancient times by waves moving over tidal flats in a shallow sea. You will also see fossilised burrows left by ancient worms that once sheltered in the sand here, and tracks and trails where animals have crawled across the damp sedimentary surface.
Take a look through my collection of photos below to get a visual idea of what Kalbarri National Park is like. I hope my photos inspire you to give it a visit when you pass through Kalbarri on your next Western Australian road trip adventure!
Check out the Z-Bend after Nature’s Window!
Visitors can reach the Z-Bend lookout that overhangs the Murchison River, via a 500-metre walk trail from the car park. You can enjoy gorgeous scenic views of the river gorge from this lookout and it’s also a great test of fitness, as it involves hiking down into the gorge to access the river’s edge.
Walk Trails Include:
- Z-Bend Lookout Trail – Moderately easy walk to rock lookout that overlooks river. (Distance 1.2km return).
- Z-Bend River Trail – Demanding hike that provides river access from the Z-Bend lookout path. (Distance 2.6km return).
Please take extreme care in this gorge risk area! Check out some of my pics below:
If you have more time, drop into the West Loop Lookout!
Visitors can enjoy phenomenal views over the Murchison gorge and park hinterland from the West Loop Lookout, which is a very short walk from the car park. You can get to this site by two-wheel drive and large vehicles.
Some of my pics below at West Loop Lookout in Kalbarri National Park:
As you can see from this lengthy blog post of my time inside Kalbarri National Park – there is ALOT to see and do here! That’s why many book accommodation at Kalbarri Town (or nearby campsites) so they can fit in all the activities, because at Kalbarri National Park, it certainly takes more than one day to see everything it has to offer.
TOURS IN KALBARRI
Local tour operators offer a range of exciting experiences, from abseiling and sand boarding to wilderness cruises, scuba diving tours, hiking tours, quad bike tours and scenic flight experiences. Search the list of Kalbarri Tours here.
ACCOMMODATION IN KALBARRI
There’s plenty of accommodation in the Kalbarri region to give you a comfortable stay while sightseeing the area. You can choose from superior apartments to the most comfortable budget accommodation in town. There’s also villas, townhouses and resort units to choose from. Search for available accommodation on sites like Kalbarri.org or Kalbarri Accomodation.
KALBARRI VISITOR CENTRE & CONTACT DETAILS
Located along the Kalbarri Town Foreshore, Grey St.
Phone: + 61 8 9937 1104 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday – Saturday 9am-5pm / Sundays Off-Peak: 9am-1pm / Sundays On-Peak: 8am-5pm
Open all school & public holidays (except Christmas Day)
- Nature’s Window –360 degree image
- Official Kalbarri Website – https://www.kalbarri.org.au
- Download Kalbarri Maps
- Download Kalbarri National Park Information Walk Trail Guide
Perth Girl recognises and acknowledges the Nhanda people as the Traditional custodians of Kalbarri National Park.