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.
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.
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.
And coming in from the north, you’ll get a panoramic view of the town and coastline as you start to descend towards Kalbarri.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
Spend some time down there, just taking in the beauty of your surroundings. Watch the colours change in the late afternoon sun.
These are just a taste of the things to explore in Kalbarri National Park. There’s so much more to see!
The coastline is extremely rugged and notoriously dangerous. Huge swells regularly pound the jagged cliffs, trying to beat them into submission.
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.
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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