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Kalbarri, WA

Nature's Window, Kalbarri Gorge

The town of Kalbarri

Castle Rock lookout, Red Bluff

Red Bluff

Located 590 km north of Perth, the coastal town of Kalbarri had developed over the last 20 or so years from an isolated community of fishermen and holiday shacks to a holiday destination offering a wide choice of activities and accommodation.

Kalbarri is so popular these days, during peak holiday season the population of Kalbarri increases substantially to the degree that it is advisable to book accommodation in advance at these times. The two drawcards that have made this so are the Murchison River gorges off the road leading to the town and the stark, dramatic coastline to the south. It is around them that most of the activities on offer to visitors revolve.
Several aerial tours are available that take in the Zuytdorp Cliffs, Murchison River Gorges (Kalbarri National Park, Abrolhos Islands, Monkey Mia, Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef and more. For the Monkey Mia tour, the plane can land at Shark Bay airport and the tour can continue at the beach with the dolphins before flying back to Kalbarri. Visitors who don't have the time to visit the Shark Bay region find this flight the perfect way to incorporate them into a visit to Kalbarri.

Sandboarding, kayaking and quad biking are popular activities. There are several companies offering cruises up the magnificent Murchison River, departing from the Jetty in Kalbarri; canoes or kayaks can be hired for those who prefer a more 'hands-on' trip up the river, either for travel as part of 12 km guided safari, or on your own.

Kalbarri Coast: The coastal gorges and cliffs provide many excellent photo opportunities, as well as coastal walks, swimming and surfing on the beaches up and down the coast. Recreational fishing is also popular, with good catches being taken from the beaches at Wittecarra Creek and Blue Holes as well as from the cliffs.

The highlights of the coastal Gorges are:

  • Red Bluff - From the lookout you can view the notorious Zuytdorp Cliffs to the north.
  • Mushroom Rock - a rock shaped as a mushroom
  • Rainbow Valley - Layers of different coloured minerals form a spectrum in stone
  • Pot Alley - The view from the top shows the beauty of the coast while rock steps lead down to a secluded beach
  • Eagle Gorge - panoramic view from the top or wander down to the beach
  • Shellhouse and Grandstand - See the effets of the Indian Ocean continually crashing against the soft limestone cliffs. Island Rock - Part of the limestone cliff which has been isolated from the shoreline (like the twelve apostles in Victoria)
  • Natural Bridge - The waves have slowly carved a hole in the limestone to form a natural bridge
  • Castle Cove - Another lookout point to view the cliff formations

Aquatic wildlife is plenteous in and around Kalbarri. Dolphins are regularly seen off the coast as are whales during the migratory season of June to October. Rain, hail or shine, the Pelicans are fed in Kalbarri each morning of the year at 8:45. There is also a Seahorse Sanctuary, Kalbarri Oceanarium and Rainbow Jungle Australian Parrot Breeding Centre.

Kalbarri National Park: Inland activities tend to be focused around the Murchison River, which winds its way through a series of very scenic sandstone gorges on its way to its estuary at the township. The gorges that lie within Kalbarri National Park can be accessed by a series of well maintained unsealed roads that lead from the main road into Kalbarri to a number of lookouts. Walking tracks lead from these lookouts into the gorges themselves. There are plenty of optional walking and hiking trails through the gorges which are clearly marked. Wildflowers bloom in abundance between August and October after winter rains.

Gorge Bushwalks: The most popular walking track in Kalbarri National Park can be found at the Nature's Window, called The Loop. It is an 8km trek which takes you along the top of the gorges, then slowly winds down to a sandy beach at the river front (great spot for a packed lunch). The Loop then follows the river around the gorges and cliff faces and eventually arrives at another sandy beach from where, you can see the marked path leading back up to Natures Window. To walk the whole track requires a fair amount of fitness and agility as there are several difficult spots, mainly along the cliff face. Allow 3-4 hrs. which is adequately takes in rest stops and photo taking.
There are also longer walks throughout the National Park. A 38km trek from the Ross Graham Lookout to The Loop requires up to 4 days to cover. Two day hikes can also be done from either the Ross Graham Lookout to the Z-Bend or the Z-Bend to The Loop (where Nature's Window is). Maps and further information are available from the Kalbarri National Park information centre which is situated on the Ajana-Kalbarri road just before you enter the town of Kalbarri itself.

Location: Kalbarri is a coastal town in the Mid West region located 592 km north of Perth. The town is found at the mouth of the Murchison River. It is connected by public transport to Perth via Transwa coach services N1 and N2.

Zuytdorp cliffs

History: The local Aboriginal people inhabited the area for thousands of years and have a dreaming story about the Rainbow serpent forming the Murchison River as she came from inland to the coast. The first European people to visit the area were the crew of the trading ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, who, in 1629, put two mutinous crew members ashore near Bluff Point just south of the town at Wittecarra Creek. A cairn marks the spot. They were the first Europeans to attempt settlement on the Australian mainland. What happened to them is not known.
The cliffs near the river mouth were named after another Dutch trading ship, the Zuytdorp, that was wrecked to the north of Kalbarri in 1712. The area became a popular fishing and tourist spot in the 1940s and by 1948 the state government declared a townsite. Lots were soon surveyed and the town was gazetted in 1951. Kalbarri was named after an Aboriginal man from the Murchison tribe and is also the name of an edible seed.
Kalbarri was featured at the end of the film Wolf Creek when character Ben Mitchell (Nathan Phillips) was airlifted to hospital from Kalbarri Airport.

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Kalbarri WA

Where Is It?: Western Australia: Murchison