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Kalbarri WA – Rugged Gorges and Spectacular Coastlines

If you’re looking for a good dose of spectacular scenery, somewhere to swim and a great fishing spot, Kalbarri will tick all the boxes for you.

Sunset across Murchison River, Kalbarri WA.
Sunset at Kalbarri… hmmm, not too shabby!

If you’re there in the off-season, Kalbarri is a sleepy little village and you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself. Peak season and school holidays are a different story though. This is a popular tourist destination and the town bulges at the seams.

Getting There

Kalbarri sits on the coast, at the mouth of the Murchison River. It’s about 590km north of Perth, 150km north of Geraldton and about 400km south of Monkey Mia.

Coming from the south, you’ll pass Hutt Lagoon, a salt water lake with the most incredible shades of pink, purple and blue. The colours are caused by algae growing on the surface. 

The extraordinary pinks colours of Hutt Lagoon, near Kalbarri WA.
The unusual colours of Hutt Lagoon, south of Kalbarri.

And coming in from the north, you’ll get a panoramic view of the town and coastline as you start to descend towards Kalbarri.

The sun blasting through the clouds over the ocean, with the township of Kalbarri just in front.
Coming into town from the north. The sun blasting through the clouds over the ocean, with the township of Kalbarri just in front (Murchison River on the right).

Bracing For The Wind

Pretty well everyone had warned us that Kalbarri would be extremely windy, so we braced ourselves for a really windy stay on an exposed site.

What a pleasant surprise we were in for!

Kalbarri is on the south bank of the Murchison River where it runs out to the ocean and is quite protected. Yes it was blowing a gale, however the site at the Murchison River Caravan Park was really protected and shady. Even better, we were less than 100m from the river’s edge which is more like a bay – warm water and sandy beach.

These cute blue wrens kept us company in the van park.
These tiny blue wrens kept us company in the van park.

And there were palm trees!! We felt like we’d found paradise after the windy, exposed scrubby country between Perth and Geraldton.

What To See Around Kalbarri

You can use Kalbarri as a base and explore from there. Here’s just a few things you might consider checking out.

Hutt River Province

If you want a dose of weirdness, you need to visit Hutt River Province. They seceded from Australia in 1970, ably governed by Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley.

The grand entrance to Hutt River Province, WA.
Hutt River Province – crossing the border into another country!

Both have now passed away and it seems Prince Graeme is now the fearless leader. Their (ancient) website is filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful proclamations . It seems knighthoods are all the rage at Hutt River Province!

We didn’t visit this time, but did call in several years ago when Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley were still alive. We couldn’t quite decide whether they were serious or whether the joke’s on the visitors.

The bust of Prince Leonard at Hutt River Province, WA.
The bust of Prince Leonard. I told you this place was full of weirdness!

They’re either deadly serious or it’s the most elaborate tax-avoidance scheme ever conceived! Good luck to them I say… the world would be boring without people like these.

Kalbarri National Park

Kalbarri National Park encircles the town. It has some unbelievable places to visit, from wild coastal lookouts to beautiful gorge walks.

The Murchison River has cut a massive gorge as it snakes through the plains east of Kalbarri. The views are spectacular, with the late afternoon sunlight really bringing out the reds and whites in the rocks.

The Murchison River cuts through Kalbarri National Park on its way to the ocean.
A sweeping bend of the Murchison River.

This country was once a sea bed. The river has exposed layers of that ancient sea bed, with fossilised sand ripples hinting at what used to be here.

Fossilised sand ripples from an ancient seabed. Kalbarri WA.
Fossilised ripples in the sand.

There’re also fossilised tracks of a giant scorpion about the size of a cat… I’d hate to find one of them under a rock!

Fossilised tracks of a giant scorpion, about the size of a cat! Kalbarri National Park.
I’m glad these fellas aren’t around any more!

Be careful if you do any of the walks. Temperatures in summer can be ridiculous… the gorges can be up to 10 degrees hotter than on top.

So a 40 degree day can become a 50 degree day down in the gorges. That’s potentially deadly if you’re not careful.

Avoid walking in the heat of the day. Wait until late afternoon and take three times as much water as you think you’ll need. People have died of dehydration on some of these walks.

Kalbarri Skywalk

Kalbarri Skywalk was under construction during our visit. It’s going to be a pretty impressive setup, with cantilevered walks out over Murchison Gorge. Not for the faint-hearted!

A WA Government aminated video of the Skywalk.

Nature’s Window

You couldn’t possibly visit this area without seeing Nature’s Window! It would have to be one of the most photographed natural features in Western Australia.

This sandstone feature has been eroded away over time to form a “window”, perfectly framing the gorge in the background.

A different aspect of Nature's Window, Kalbarri National Park.
A different perspective of Nature’s Window.

You can also do a loop walk from Nature’s Window. This walk gives you a really good close-up look at the magnificent sandstone rock formations. And you appreciate the scale of this ancient place.

Z-Bend Lookout and Trail

This was one of our favourites. The lookout is stunning, but the trail is unbelievable.

The view from the lookout at Z-Bend Gorge, Kalbarri National Park.
A long way down! The view from Z-Bend Lookout.

We waited until late afternoon and scrambled down ladders and endless rocks to the Murchison River. The views along the river are magic and you’re surrounded by towering red cliffs.

Murchison River River Walk, Z-Bend Gorge. Kalbarri National Park.
A magic spot.

Spend some time down there, just taking in the beauty of your surroundings. Watch the colours change in the late afternoon sun.

Murchison River River Walk, Z-Bend Gorge. Kalbarri National Park.
Giant slabs of sandstone in the gorge walls.
Murchison River River Walk, Z-Bend Gorge. Kalbarri National Park.
Part of the River Walk track.

These are just a taste of the things to explore in Kalbarri National Park. There’s so much more to see!

Coastal Cliffs

The coastline is extremely rugged and notoriously dangerous. Huge swells regularly pound the jagged cliffs, trying to beat them into submission.

The imposing coastline just south of Kalbarri is both beautiful and forbidding.
In a big swell, these forbidding coastal cliffs are downright scary!

Just south of town are several great vantage points to see these cliffs close-up.

On a wet, windy it’s easy to imagine how terrifying it would have been for the poor unfortunate sailing ships, when they ventured too close to this unforgiving shoreline. Not surprisingly, WA’s coastline is littered with shipwrecks.

But then on a clear day, you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.

Gazing out over the ocean, just south of Kalbarri WA.
Gazing out over the ocean on beautiful clear day.

Summing Up

Kalbarri is a magic spot. It’s such a contrast to the monotonous windswept coastal country to the south.

The magnificent gorges along Murchison River, the wild coastal cliffs and the protected river mouth in the town combine to make this a special place.

Kalbarri is on Nhanda Country.

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