Shark bay August 2010 145 x 550

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.

Shark bay August 2010 320 x

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.

Shark bay August 2010 Jo 012 x 550

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.

Shark bay August 2010 036 x 550

“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.”

Shark bay August 2010 337 x 550

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.

Shark bay August 2010 063 x 550

“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.”

Shark bay August 2010 194 x 550

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.

Shark bay August 2010 255 x 550

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.

Shark bay August 2010 064 x 550

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

  1. Go canoeing in the deep river gorges
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Hire a kayak and paddle up the Murchison River or book on a tour to canoe the river gorge.
  5. Go fishing – either shore or boat angling.
  6. Cycle the Malaleuca Bike Trail bike track which stretches off-road for 5kms from the Jetty along the coast .
  7. Hike the Mushroom Rock Walking Trail that connects Rainbow Valley and Mushroom Rock.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

Please follow and like us:


  1. Neva Fels

    What beautiful scenery. It’s my dream to someday visit your country.

  2. Thanks Neva. I think you’ll love it when you get here. So diverse 🙂

  3. Sure is, Muza-chan! About time we dragged you from Japan to Australia me thinks 🙂

  4. I’ve been to Kalbarri Nationalpark last year. It’s a really amazing park in my opinion. I loved the view of the Z-Bend from above and of course the natural window. The walk down to the gorge and the small little “beach” there was so beautiful.
    You are actually also able to do abseiling down there. Unfortunately I was too scared that day. Now it bothers me that I didn’t do it but well, I will dare it the next time. 🙂

  5. Yes, the Z Bend was also amazing wasn’t it Stef. That view” Thanks for mentioning the Abseiling, of course that’s a great Action Packed thing to do. I’ve done it once many years ago, but it would probably give me the shivers now 🙂

  6. Thanks for popping by, Craig 🙂 Yeah, you’re going to Love it and enjoy some kick back and chill time methinks 🙂

  7. We haven’t been to Kalbarri for a couple of years and your article makes me want to go revisit. Thanks.

  8. Oh that’s good,Denise. I hope you can make it back up there again soon 🙂

  9. Between you and the other travel bloggers in Western Australia I feel a need to visit your corner of the world. The area looks well worth exploring and what’s offered is right up by alley.

  10. It is stunning countryside, would love to visit someday, its fun to read about another part of Australia not typically shown.

  11. Your post is fabulous. My son wants to visit Australia for our family vacation after graduation (Or Chicago — kids!). He would love these photos. Of course, if I show him, then we’re headed to Australia. 🙂

  12. We haven’t been to Kalbarri for quite a few yeas, but I know people that go there often. It is easily accessible from Perth, and you can certainly have a varied holiday – relax on the beach, fish, or go gorge tramping. But it can get hot gorge tramping, so remember the water and the hat! Thanks for taking us there Jo.

  13. Thanks, Jill. Yes those gorges can get really hot, in summer it’s probably not wise to go down them at all – I think the temp can top 50 degrees Centigrade. You’re right, never go tramping (anywhere) without a hat and enough water.

  14. That’s wonderful Karen! So glad you enjoyed it and it might tip the scales to bring you to Australia. Thanks for your comments 🙂

  15. Yes, Noel we are still the quieter side of the country when it comes to tourists I think, and so news of our awesome spaces and dream places rarely reach the popular travel media (nice for us residents really!).

  16. Thanks so much for popping by. I think you’re referring to Jill in here too Leigh, so I’ll speak for her too – we’re doing a reasonable job, hey at promoting WA – Ha Ha! -We should be on the tourist board! LOL! But we just love it! It’s remote, it’s where we live, not widely written about, and it’s awesome. So we share what we find out and it’s so great when people like you say they need to visit.

  17. What a hidden gem! Your pictures are beautiful and really make me want to go back to Australia and explore this area more. I love that there’s so much to do for everyone with varying interests.

  18. Hi Jo, Kalbarri certainly looks like a perfect winter escape. I’ll take tranquility anytime over sophistication. I love its natural beauty and the wide variety of active things to do in the area. Oh, I so so love the photo of the birds. They look too cute! I couldn’t stop looking at them. And Ohhh….the Nature Window shot is really stunning! Thanks for sharing another beautiful part of your world.

  19. It is, Dick and although it’s only a small town, there’s so much to do if you enjoy getting out and about.

  20. Thanks Marisol! I’m glad you enjoyed your cyber trip to Kalbarri! Hope you make it in real life one day 🙂

  21. Thanks Jo for an inspiring travel post. We did travel up to Mount Augustus last year and had a super time. However, we did run out to time and were unable to turn right at the Kalbarri turnoff. We had to keep the Jeep nose pointing south. Our loss, clearly. It sounds like there are plenty of reasons to go back, though.

  22. Definitely, Wanda! At least you know you have lots of good reasons to go back one day 🙂

  23. This looks lovely but sadly, I don’t think I’ll have time to get over to WA while I’m in Australia. This continent is too huge!!

  24. Ah, that’s too bad Arianwen. Maybe next time – I’m sure you’ll be back 🙂

  25. Ahhhh Kalbarri – a standout WA destination. I remember making a complete idiot of myself abseiling down the gorges.

  26. Hi,
    I live in Perrh WA and recently went to kalbarri. Found some of your tips weren’t accurate and need urgent revision for everyone’s sake 🙂
    To start with, the climate is quite hot and dry. You mention the temperature can reach 34C in summer- well in fact it can reach 50C in summer… And can be extremely dangerous if windy as well.
    The river is gone… At least, it wasn’t there last January… lol… So canoeing is improbable… 🙁
    The road is very rocky and is extended… We drove 20ish kms each leg just to get to z bend on my little 2×2…. That was the worst I’m my humble opinion.
    Drinking Water and sun protection gear are always important and people must be prepared as no vending machines or stores available… At least at z bend… I hope you take this comments well.. Just thought it would help future travelers…
    🙂 thanks for visiting NorthWA. 🙂 regards!

  27. Thanks for your updates. I always appreciate up to the minute and constructive comments to help future travellers 🙂

  28. Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed the bird park at Kalbarri, and was glad I made the decision to visit it. The inland and coastal gorges are incredible too!

  29. Aren’t the gorges spectacular, Aaron! Just love Kalbarri. Thanks for popping by 🙂

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It