Kalbarri National Park which surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, is one of the popular Western Australian National parks. The Murchison River has created a 80 km gorge through the red and white banded sandstone to create formations such as Nature’s Window/The Loop, Z-Bend and Hawks Head. All of these can be reached by following well formed trails.
The National Park also runs along the coast where wind and wave erosion has created some wonderful creations such as Red Bluff, Mushroom Rock, Rainbow Valley, Eagle Gorge, Island Rock and the Natural Bridge, these are the best-known features of this rugged coast.
Wildflowers in Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park is known for its exceptional wildflowers which are at their best in spring and early summer. I even found my first green and red Kangaroo Paw in the park. People come here for a variety of reasons that include sightseeing, picnicing, abseiling, diving, rafting, kayaking, swimming, canoeing (only after heavy rains) Snorkelling, Surfing, Bushwalking and Fishing.
Make sure you bring your own drinking water as there is none available in Kalbarri National Park, wear sunscreen and a hat - It gets hot out here during the daytime. Toilets and Picnic shelters with bbqs are at some look-outs, not all.
To enter the National park, you need an ENTRY PASS.
A Day Pass - This pass covers entry into one or more parks on any one day. Passes are available from rangers in the parks. In some parks, a system of self-registration applies.
Holiday Park Pass - Entry to as many parks as you wish for any 4 week period, this is the one we bought, but first we made sure we would get our moneys worth out of it before buying.
Annual All Park Pass - Unlimited access to all parks in WA. Valid for one vehicle, with up to 8 legally seated people.
PARK PASSES DO NOT INCLUDE CAMP SITE FEES - Separate fees apply.
Hawks Head- Kalbarri N/Park
Hawk's Head Lookout is about a 30mins from Kalbarri township. We found the brown tourist sign and followed the road until we came to a car-park and picnic area which is a far as we could go, the rest is walking. This area is quite new and very nice and even had nice clean composting toilets. There was a shelter with benches and bbqs where a bus load of tourists were having their morning tea. There weren't any rubbish bins, so we took our rubbish home with us.
Composting toilets- Kalbarri N/Park
Putting my hat on and taking a bottle of water with me, I made my way along the paved pathway, a walk of only 100 metres to the look-out. The look-out gave me a spectacular view over Kalbarri Gorge and the Murchison River.
Hawks Head- Kalbarri N/Park
Hawk's Head was named in honour of a hawk shaped rock formation visible from the lookout. It is a great view made even better by the deep red colour of the Gorge.
The Ross Graham River Walk, a class 3, is an easy walk I followed along a paved walkway to the edge of the peaceful Murchison river, where trees were lush and green and the rocks a brilliant red.
The view from the look-out itself is a good one of the Murchison River and gorges.
Before coming to Kalbarri National Park, I had read over 1,000 different species of wildflowers have been found in the park. As a lover of flowers I was quite eager to see how many I could find.
I was very excited to find my first Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, "Anigozanthos manglesii," the floral emblem of Western Australia since 1960.
On the roadside were many different wildflowers to what I had seen previously, a walk into the low scrub found many more!
The wildflowers come in a myriad of colours and shapes, some were low ground hugging plants and others were taller shrubs with many dead looking branches but were still covered in flowers.
Some of the more common ones I saw were gold and orange Banksias, Grevilleas in many colours,
the unusual Smoke bush,
Starflowers, the famous Kalbarri catspaw and spider orchid and the small Murchison Hammer orchid. Twenty-one of these species are only found in the Kalbarri area. It was very pretty!
Take many photos as many species will not be found elsewhere in Western Australia, I learnt that lesson earlier in this trip.
IT IS ILLEGAL TO PICK THE WILDFLOWERS
The best time to see the wildflowers is between July and November.
The Loop trail is one of the harder walks to do in Kalbarri National Park. It is described as a "challenging but spectacular walk through the gorge system." The walk is 8km return, too far for me to walk, so the only part I did was the first section which forms part of the trail to Nature's Window. I imagine if you had the time and energy, it would be well worth doing.
The 400metre walk to Natures Window is on paved pathway most of the way, then the last part to the window is over sculptured rocks, the elderly and those a little incapacitated were finding it little difficult, I managed ok, but saw others struggling.
The rock geology of this National Park is really something to see and shouldn't be missed!
At Nature's Window I saw orange/red and white banded rocks and rippled surfaces that were formed by waves moving over tidal flats in a shallow sea approx. 400 million years ago. These red and white banded rocks can be seen through most of the river gorge. The rock is made from Tumblagooda sandstone, a soft stone which the wind shapes into all kinds of different shapes.
Natures Window would have to be one of the most stunning sights and most photographed sights in Kalbarri National Park.
The Window is a wonderful natural creation made this way by the wind. In the centre is a gaping hole from where there are wonderful views of the Murchison river. This natural formation is a great natural frame for your photos so make sure you have your photo taken in the frame, even though you will probably have to wait your turn!
Natures Window - Kalbarri N/Park
From Nature's Window, I could see people clambering over a narrow rocky razorback to reach a part of the plateau that has almost been cut off by the bend in the river. Once on the heath covered plateau, the walk is along the rim of the gorge where some weather carved sandstone and views of the river can be seen. River gums and Sandy beaches beside the river would be a nice spot for a rest, perhaps some lunch/morning tea and a cool off in the River before continuing. Of course, the end of the trail means a steep short climb back up to Nature’s Window.
In another area of Kalbarri National Park were more walking trails, sadly after doing so many on a hot day, I was feeling rather tired and weary by the time I reached these, so all I did was the shortest which happened to be the Z Bend Trail. The trail is a 1.2km return, class 3 walking trail that departs from the car park. It was quite and easy trail, although expect uphill on the way back. I saw more wildflowers and an interesting small Lizard that ran flat out across the track with his head held high, golly he looked funny!
I came across a signboard with a drawing of a Scorpion which told me about these creatures that were found in Kalbarri nearly 400 million years ago, making them one of earths earliest land creatures. These were the Arthropods whose descendants are Spiders, Scorpions, Cicadas and Centipedes. It tells you where to look for their trails and sure enough we could see the parallel markings made by the creature known as an Eurypterid.
On reaching the end of the track, the view from a large rock is over the Murchison river and is very nice!
If you wish to go down to the River, then follow the "River Trail" a class 4, a more difficult trail and one with ladder climbs, steep descents, loose rocks and a narrow chasm to walk through. The trail is 2.6kms return and the estimated time is 2 hours.
The Four Ways trail is 6kms return and is expected to take between 2 - 3 hours. It too is more difficult and has a steep
Meannara Hill Lookout is a must visit if your in Kalbarri.
As you drive out of Kalbarri township along Kalbarri road, watch for the turn-off to the right not far from Kalbarri township. The road is dirt and can be rough, it depends on when the grader has been through. It's a no through road ending at a dirt car-park. From here it was ashort walk to the look-out along a dirt path where bushes were flowering and Honeyeaters were after their nectar. The look-out has wonderful views over the Murchison River and its entry into the Indian Ocean, Kalbarri township and the lovely coloured cliffs. Early morning and the sun was behind me, so I took lots of good shots, unfortunately, my camera played up and l lost all of them, so had to return in the afternoon to take more when the sun was in the wrong position.
Looking over Kalbarri
Kalbarri National Park was wonderful! Even though it was winter, it still was quite hot, so I would hate to come here in summer, I definitely wouldn't recommend that!
Tomorrow, we are going to explore the seaside part of Kalbarri National Park