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Day 27 Queensland to Western Australia

Kalbarri National Park

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.


Kalbarri N/Park

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.


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.


Kalbarri N/Park

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.


Kangaroo Paw

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.
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.

Kalbarri N/Park

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!


Kalbarri N/Park

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.


Kalbarri N/Park

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.


Kalbarri N/Park

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!


Kalbarri N/Park

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!


Kalbarri N/Park

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


Kalbarri N/Park

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.

large_SAM_0165.jpgLooking 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

Posted by balhannahrise 15:58 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes park walking australia outback national western trails wildflowers Comments (0)

Day 30 Queensland to Western Australia

Ellendale Pool to Mingenew

Today was one of our lazy days as we knew we weren't travelling far.
We had a good night's sleep at Ellendale pool, so I was up and on my pushbike cycling alongside the Greenough river. It was so peaceful in the morning, just the twitter of birds breaking the silence and the smell of campfires and cooked breakfast.

Beside Greenough River


Australian Ring Necked Parrot

When I returned to camp, I went walking amongst the shrubs trying to find some more orchids and the smaller birds that frequent this area. I did find some of both and a Ring Necked Parrot too. This took me to the upper part of the campground where our friends were camping, so I stopped for a chat and said good-bye to them. It was late morning by then, so I did my part of packing up the caravan and we were soon on our way to Coalseam Conservation Park.

As it happened, we were on the wrong road, the one we were on was the Depot Hill road to Mingenew. Oh well, we decided we would stay at Mingenew tonight and drive the 12kms back to Coalseam tomorrow.

It was along Depot Hill road where we saw the Brown tourist sign for Depot Hill. Lucky there was plenty of room to pull off the road with our car and caravan.
At the parking area there is an interpretive board that tells of the Gregory Brothers finding this place in 1846 and burying their supplies here. Depot hill was used by explorers and coal prospectors and was an important stock grazing area as it had year round water from the Irwin river.

During World War 2, it became an important Army Firing Range, now there is a 1.5 km return trail for the public to walk to the old historic Firing Range. It is a fairly easy walk, you may see mounds used for exercises before reaching the firing range. Local residents tell of seeing Tanks embedded in the earth on Depot Hill! There were plenty of armoured vehicles here and this was the location where extensive training exercises took place between 1942 - 1944.

Before I walked the trail, I took a look at the rusty steel cut-out and read the board about what went on here.


The heading read....

"Come on - look smart you fellows! Gerry's not going to give you all day to get a bead on him. And keep your damn silly head's down or you'll get hem shot off...
By crikey - I knew they were sending me a raw bunch but I imagined you might have known how to reload by now! Take that long in a scrap and you'll be in real strife."

The cut-out shows the Sergeant bellowing out these orders to his young Soldiers. Usually the Officers were older men who may have served during WWI. They pushed the young Soldiers hard and demanded discipline, finally turning them into excellent Soldiers.

It was time for the walk, only 30mins to the old firing range.


Everlasting Daisies

This area was covered in 1000's of Pink Everlasting Daisies, what a picture they made! Along the trail were quite a few garden seats, these were appreciated on a warm day. I was extremely happy to find my first Cats Paw here, a brightly coloured dwarf Kangaroo Paw.

Dwarf Kangaroo Paws

There was more to see, like the stunning blue Dampiera, some Cowslip orchids, pretty Thryptomene and others I need to identify some-time in the future. The floral emblem of Mingenew is the Bird Beak Hakea which grows wild here along with many species of Orchids.


On arrival at the Mingenew Spring council operated Caravan Park, we found nobody at the office, so we chose our own site as we were told to do by the notice on the door.
We were happy there were plenty of gum trees for shade and nice green lawns as the weather was quite warm, even though it was August and Winter. The caravan park is located next to the original Mingenew Spring which is now dry.
The Park was smallish, clean and tidy with 35 powered bitumen sites and non-powered caravan & camping sites. If you haven't your own accommodation, there are en-suite self contained units, semi-self contained rooms, a double cabin with en-suite and on-site caravans. and several self contained units.
There is a camp kitchen, BBQ area, small Laundry with 2 washing machines and one Dryer, costing $4 for a wash in 2014. There were a couple of outdoor clothes-lines. There are amenities for disabled people. The Showers and Toilets were clean, but the shower area and drying area was so small, I couldn't dry myself in there, not good! A large person would find this small space extremely difficult. I had to have the hot water on full to be able to have hot water!
The park did advertise meals which would have been nice only I think the days were Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights only.
If the shower block was upgraded, then this would be a really good park, as it is, even though everything else was good, because of the showers I


Murals at Mingenew

The area where Mingenew is situated was first explored in 1847 by brothers Augustus and Thomas Gregory when they were looking for some good grazing land for their cattle. Settlement was in the 1850's then the Midland Railway opened in 1891. It took until 1906 before Mingenew became a town.

Mingenew was named after Mingenew Spring, an Aboriginal word meaning either Minganu "the place of many ants" or Mininoo "the place of many waters, today it's known for sheep farming and growing of wheat and lupins. As Mingenew is known as "The Grain Centre," I wasn't at all surprised to find prominent features of wheat around the town. The Mingenew Co-operative Bulk Handling is the largest inland grower receival site facility in the Southern Hemisphere, with a holding capacity of 403,000 tons.


Tourist Information Centre

We went for a drive around town, first beginning at the Tourist Information centre located in the historic old Post Office building & residence built in 1894. As this centre is run by volunteers, it is only open limited hours, and some days it is shut. I was lucky to find it open and to have a chat with the friendly local lady who was only too happy to fill me on where the wildflowers were and to give me a map. This isn't a large centre, but it still has all the info you need for exploring Mingenew and area. There was a small section of souvenirs and arts and crafts and jams the local people had made. I even picked up some free magazines from here that local people had donated for giving away to tourists.

Wheat sculpture ( Big Ears)


A short walk from the centre was the giant wheat stalk in Cecil Newton park, no prizes for guessing what the locals call it "Big Ears!"

Our next stop was at " Drover's Rest" located at the base of the hill that is the town look-out.


This area is known as Drover's Rest, as it was here the Drovers stopped with there stock to give them a well earned drink from the water troughs. The water was piped from Mingenew spring to here. A Rain-water tank at the rest stop has a good collection of old work boots strung around it, looks like anybody can add a boot if they wanted. A few pieces of old farm machinery and a cut-out cow made from corrugated iron are at the site, as well as a Picnic shelter and picnic bench. There is plenty of room to pull up with a car and caravan. You can walk a track to the top of the hill, or drive your car which is what we did.

Mingenew hill was discovered by the Gregory Brothers in 1846 who described it "as a remarkable ironstone Hill." In 1901, it was made into a reserve.

View from Mingenew Hill

Even though Mingenew hill isn't that high, it's high enough for good views over the surrounding plains where fields of wheat were growing. We could see the road we came into town quite easily and also the town and some industries. Some yellow Everlasting daisies were flowering, evidently it gets quite pretty when they are all out! Quite good for viewing the countryside!


Old Railway station.

The old Railway Station, built to service the new Midland Railway line that opened to rail traffic in 1894, was an important station and the main depot on the line for the Midland Railway. The Railway Station and residence were built of stone, had a iron roof with a breeze-way between the buildings. Barracks, Station master's house, small signals shed, goods shed, timber yards and trucking yards were all built. The 'Goods shed" was where the engine could be parked for maintenance by the team of men from Walkaway. Many of these buildings have been demolished.
Since 1975, when the last passenger train went through, the building has been leased to the Shire and the Arts Council and now is used by the Mingenew Art & Craft group.

As with many of these small country towns, they are trying to attract the tourist $'s by making the town more attractive. I think they are doing quite a good job.

I read Mingenew had 5 murals, all part of the "Painted Road" trail. The "Painted Road” trail is a series of murals along Midlands Road, I missed a couple but saw some extras, so I think there may be more than five. The idea of the Murals is to capture part of the local scenery & history.

The first one I saw was "The Droving Scene," which takes you back to the early 1900's. It shows a Drover taking his herd of Longhorn cattle to the Lockier River for a drink, another was the Centenary mural painted by local school children & members of the community. A good one on the wall of the machinery shed in the Museum, is " Hope’s Wheelwrights Shop Mural." Samuel Hope & Sons operated a wheelwright & blacksmiths shop near the Mingenew Spring. They were such excellent wheelwrights, that teamsters always came back to them for wagon repairs. The Westrail bus shelter in the Main street has local scenes of wildflowers, gum trees & windmills, but the one I liked the bestl was "the Emus" painted on the Toilet wall at the Tennis club.

There is a story about the mural that goes something like this.....

Long ago, there were a lot of Emu's that frequented the Tennis courts in Mingenew, enjoying a game of tennis on the lush green grass. No tennis racquets, not a problem as they used mallee sticks as tennis racquets. The Emu's haven't been seen for ages, but ghostly forms have been seen where the Tennis club now stands.

It was decided to paint this fun mural in honour of those Emus! Now they stand guard forever and oversee the goings on at the Tennis courts.

The Emus


Located at the western and eastern ends of Mingenew, the local Shire has erected banner display paintings which represents many of the important events and landscapes seen in and around Mingenew. They include landscapes of wildflower scenes, sporting events such as the Races & Polocrosse Carnival, Expo, historic churches and the Universal Space Network which gives access to children all around the world to space programs.

I just had to stop and take some photos of these, at the same idea thinking this was a go-ahead town!

That completed another good day of touring.

It was time to settle down and make plans for our stay at the Coalseam National Park tomorrow.

Posted by balhannahrise 21:14 Archived in Australia Tagged birds walking australia murals western trails wildflowers Comments (0)

Day 31 Queensland to Western Australia

Coalseam National Park

Today is a short drive to Coalseam National Park, no getting lost today as I have a map from the Mingenew visitor centre to follow. We had no trouble finding the park today.


Driving through Coalseam National Park



I had read about Coalseam Conservation park and all the wildflowers and was thinking at the same time how nice it would be to camp there. To get a site it was first in best dressed and if the Miner's campground was full, then you could stay at the Breakaway Campground.
We were only coming from Mingenew, approx. a 30minute drive away, so we knew we would be fairly early and likely to get a good site.

Volunteer Rangers greeted us and booked us in, as we were early we could choose our own site and tell them the number later. Already campers were here, the lucky ones had stunning river views!

We chose one amongst the wildflowers, a nice flat area with room to sit outside the Caravan. Most of the sites were taken by the end of the day.

This is bush camping where both caravans and tents are permitted. Sites were dirt and set overlooking the river or in-between the wildflowers which is where our site was. There were toilets, bbqs and picnic tables, but no drinking water, not a problem as we always carry drinking water.
It wasn't crowded, but on weekends it's extremely busy in wildflower season, and a 3 night stay limit is in force between late July and October.


Picnic area @ campground and Galah

What a stunningly beautiful area to stay, so peaceful, the quietness only broken by the Galahs squawking as it was their nesting season!
I rode my bike to some places, others were close to the camp so I walked, and some sites were further away, so we drove to them.

River Irwin and Fossil cliffs


Thousands of fossils can still be found at the fossil site. We drove to this site, then walked down into the sandy, pebbly River Irwin. There was only a little water running in the river, although enough to make it difficult to cross without getting wet feet. A short walk and we found a crossing that led us to the high cliffs on the other side of the river. It is in these cliffs where the marine fossils are embedded, left-over from the Permian sea that once covered this area. The fossils are small and can be found, actually quite easily once you have found one and have an idea what to look for.

Views from Irwin Lookout


On the same road was Irwin Lookout which had an off road car-park and a track to the cliff edge where we had magnificent views of Breakaways and over the cliff edge to the Irwin river below.

After enjoying these views, we followed the 560 metre loop trail to another area for more great views, and then back to the car park, via a track through the bush where I found some wildflowers. An interpretive board informed me Peregrine and the majestic Wedge Eagles are seen soaring around here, none were around at the time.




Across the river from our campground was the Johnson mine shaft and viewing platform, located along the Miners walking trail. The old mine shaft is fenced off for safety reasons, but you still can see way down the shaft and take photos through the wire.
Signs tell me the shaft was sunk in 1917, and that if I looked hard, I should be able to see some of the coal seam at the bottom of the shaft. The shaft once had timbered sides that went down the mine for 15 metres. Above, was a tall wooden headframe. Good coal was found here, but the seams were too thin to be mined economically!
I believe this is WA’s first coalmine.
The Miner's walking trail is 700 metres return and is estimated to take 30 minutes.

Irwin River walk


On my bicycle was how I reached River Bend. Leaving my bike by the ford, I was able to walk along the nearly dry river bed to River Bend on the Irwin River. I loved the cliffs along here, the colours in them and the shapes carved by the wind. It was interesting seeing what type of flora could manage to grow out of them and survive!

Irwin river & cliffs

Along here, the rock layers are exposed. I could see quite a large volume of water came down this river at various times because of the way the trees had been swept and the rubbish caught in them. This is how people get caught out, and then washed away.

Irwin river & cliffslarge_SAM_1903.jpg

I knew no rain was expected anywhere, so it was ok. If you know storms are around or in nearby areas where the River Irwin runs through, do not walk along the river bed.

A lot of the wildlife at Coalseam is nocturnal, so is only seen at night. Animals that live here are Echidna, Euro and Red Kangaroo. Reptiles found are Stumpies or Bobtails, Sand Goannas, Western Blue Tongue lizard, Western netted Dragon, Mulga snake and a few others. How-ever, I found the birdlife to be plentiful and readily seen. It was the Galahs who were most prevalent. Coalseam has a lot of dead trees which many hollows from where branches have fallen. This is the perfect place for a Galah to nest, which is what they were doing at this time of the year.
Mum, Dad and baby Galah could be seen sitting on the dead trees, and sometimes a head was poking out from one of the hollows.


If you couldn't see them, just head towards where the squawking was coming from. Honey-eaters love the wildflowers and I saw many of these, too hard for a photo though! Red Robins, Ringnecks, swallows, cuckoo shrikes, bronze winged Pigeons and many other birds are found here.


Coal seams in the Irwin River

A walk alongside the Riverbed near our campground was different to the one I did at River Bend. Once again there are plenty of interesting shapes and rock, but it is the cliffs that have changed. Here, they are not the red/orange colour, but a dark brown with plenty of coal seams that can be easily seen. This rock strata includes glacial rocks which were laid down during the Permian Ice age, estimated to be 250 million years ago. During the ice age, glaciers carried huge blocks of rock gouged out by the ice and deposited them hundreds of miles away.

Irwin River


It was another interesting walk that was worth doing.

This is one of the top places to find wildflowers in Western Australia, but the ones that put on the biggest and best show, are the Everlasting Daisies.


These are everywhere, and are so attractive that I had to stop myself from taking too many photos. Tracks weave their way through them, a carpet of pink, gold, cream and white everlastings transforming this area to one of exceptional beauty! Look out where your walking, just in case you run into a snake!


This Conservation Park, is among the most botanically diverse areas in the northern Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. Woody heath plants flower profusely in spring along with the spectacular everlastings. (dependent on rainfall to how good they flower).


After a full day of walks I was ready to sit outside the caravan and enjoy the colour. This was a wonderful National Park, really, it had a little bit of everything!

Tomorrow, we are heading to Perenjori to see more wildflowers

Posted by balhannahrise 21:14 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds cliffs park walking australia national camping western trails fossils Comments (2)

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