It’s no secret that I love getting away from it all during our South West winters, and July, August and September are great months for heading north on a Roadtrip in WA, when the weather in the south sees us snuggled around wood fires and wrapping up in warm coats.
Some 600kms away from Perth you’ll find a lovely warm, winter hideaway called Kalbarri. It’s surrounded by awe-inspiring cliffs and gorges which completely defy the idea that Western Australia is flat.
You’ll find the town is set around a gentle sweep of bay where the river meets the sea. There’s not a high-rise building on the skyline. Kalbarri’s architecture is discreet with a selection of beach and river facing apartments, small hotels and B & B’s bordering the shallow waters of the river mouth.
Don’t expect sophisticated – but, if it’s tranquillity you’re after, then Kalbarri’s got it in spades. The best time to go is during winter or spring when the weather is fine and warm, (the mercury can tip 34 degrees in summer), and before the crowds descend for school holidays – then Kalbarri’s normally scant population is likely to double overnight.
“We wake to the distant roar of the Indian Ocean crashing beyond the Murchison River mouth after a night of still, peaceful sleep. There are no police sirens to be heard in Kalbarri, nor the rumble of heavy trucks, and no white noise from commuter traffic because this is a place off the beaten track, far away from the pressures and the humdrum of everyday urban life.”
You can’t help but feel away from it, cocooned in this little outback town whose nearest neighbour Port Gregory is a small fishing village 84kms south; where a pink lake called, Hutt Lagoon, is a distinguishing feature due to its colour and the fact that it’s a rich source of Beta Carotene.
There are tinnies and paddle boats for hire on the river, and Chinaman’s Beach is a great spot for land based fishing. Sunsets from the look-out point offer lighting to make photographers go week at the knees, and if you’re up by 8.45am each morning pop across to watch the Pelican feedings opposite the Grass Tree Cafe, when a gaggle of these raucous birds come and jostle for fresh fish – like avian comedians anxious for an audience.
“We go for a paddle slowly through The Murchison River Gorge in the Kalbarri National Park (185,000 hectares of sand plains, cliffs and gorges) where silence prevails except for the occasional clear and piercing songbird calls.”
The Murchison River, only a few million years young has carved a chasm, like a deep wound through the ancient Tumblagooda Sandstone. These sandstone layers, contrasting brownish red and purple against bands of white, date back to the dawn of life and were deposited in sedimentary layers during the Silurian age over 400 million years ago.
Nature’s Window below is a stunning spot for a big “Ohhh” and a photo.
Our intrepid guide leads us up a steep rocky gulley. Our voices echo across the ravine as we stop for a breather in a vividly banded overhang which is the colour of red curry and just as hot.
As we’re catching our breath he regails us with interesting facts and stories, and then further on, stops in his tracks. “Jo, can I borrow your finger?” he asks. Cautiously, considering all the fun joking that’s been going on, I look around wondering if there’s an enormous venus fly trap or similar.
But no. I touch a tiny flower growing out of the dry red earth, and as if attracted by a magnet the bud attaches itself to the tip of my finger. Our guide looks up and smiles. “See that,” he laughs. “It’s a ‘sundew.’ I’m looking for a bigger one of those that I could stick the mother-in-law too.”
Here tucked far away from the rat-race and the ordinariness of the everyday world, you have to think that one day, just possibly, he might find one.
Action Packed Activities and things to do in Kalbarri
- Go canoeing in the deep river gorges
- Hike around The Loop an 8km walk trail that begins at Nature’s Window which is a 400metre stroll from car park. Nature’s Window is a natural rock arch made of sandstone that forms a frame for the view below and beyond. Watch out for pretty wild flowers in season.
- Walk to Z-Bend from the car park where a gorge plunges 150 metres to the river below, or hike the Gorge Trail a demanding 2.6km return hike. Notice how the river redgums are dwarfed by the steep and ancient Tumblagooda Sandstone.
- Hire a kayak and paddle up the Murchison River or book on a tour to canoe the river gorge.
- Go fishing – either shore or boat angling.
- Cycle the Malaleuca Bike Trail bike track which stretches off-road for 5kms from the Jetty along the coast .
- Hike the Mushroom Rock Walking Trail that connects Rainbow Valley and Mushroom Rock.
- Walk the Bigurda Trail – an easy 8km trail along the cliff tops from Eagle Gorge to Natural Bridge. Allow about 3 hours and take plenty of water. Look out for large pods of Bottlenose Dolphins and Humpback whales way down below you, Kestrals and eagles above you.
- Catch the big waves and go surfing at Jacques Beach, renowned for its reef break, or walk across the rocks and get close to the surfers for great photo opportunities.
- Visit Rainbow Jungle, the Australian Parrot Breeding Centre, regarded as Australia’s most beautiful parrot habitat. It’s like an outback tropical hideaway with shaded landscaped areas including waterfalls, palms and many varieties of parrot. Give yourself 10 points if Cocky, wolf whistles at you!
I’m linking to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travellers Sandbox today, so that you can have an armchair travel adventure to many more places around the world.
Have you been to Kalbarri? What do you think you’d most like to do if you visited?