A dream come true day at Kalbarri, Western Australia
Another item I was excited to check off my Western Australia bucket list was to visit Kalbarri. Situated on the Coral Coast, this town boasts crystal clear swimming beaches, fishing opportunities, spectacular sunsets, and the breathtaking Kalbarri Gorge.
The Kalbarri National Park covers an area of 186,000 hectares. The Murchison River flows through here. It is 820kms long making it the second longest river in Western Australia. Its catchment area is larger than the whole of Tasmania.
The water levels and colour of the river fluctuate depending on the time of year and the amount of rainfall further north. When there is an extreme flood event, the river carries dirt to the ocean. This muddy brown water looks strange as it empties into the bright blue waters of the sea.
My first call was to the Visitor Centre in town. The staff were very helpful with suggestions on what activities to do, after they asked my preferences.
I drove to the Gorge and first went to the Z-Bend lookout. The gorge plunges 150m down here. The eroded cliff edges are a variety of different hues. Shrubs cling to the edges for survival. When I reached the lookout I was amazed. The sight to the right and left are breathtaking.
The walk to the lookout is well marked from the paved carpark. There is undercover seating and toilets here.
Steps have been laid along the path for easy access. The walk is a class 3, 1.2km return.
You can take the river trail down, which is a class 4 2.6km walk. However, as it had steep descents and ladder climbs I decided not to go it solo. At 43C, many of the returned hikers noted how hot it was the further down they climbed.
Next was a drive to Kaju Yatka (walk to the sky). As I stepped out onto each of the cantilevered platforms I felt as if I was floating in the air. The platforms hover 100 metres in mid-air above the gorge, yet there is no feeling of vertigo. Made of 117 tonnes of weathered steel, you can look over the edge or through the mesh floor to the gorge bottom.
There is Aboriginal heritage artwork in abundance here and interpretive signboards of the local Indigenous Nanda people.
Kalbarri has an abundance of wildlife, both on land and in the sea. There is over 200 recorded different animal species in the park and over 1200 species of wildflowers bloom here in season. Some of these are found nowhere else on the planet. July to November are the peak flowering seasons, but there is always something in bloom in the park. For bird watchers, Kalbarri has up to 170 different species of birds. In my opinion, it also has too many flies.
Finally I drove to the Nature’s window. This is one of the most photographed spots in the park as it perfectly frames the river. The walk to the window is a class 3, 1km return trip. Signs ask that you do not climb in, or on top of the window.
Again, as in Z bend, I decided not to do the walk. A sign advised the temperature was still 43C, that other hikers had died here, and not to hike in the heat. Sometimes you have to make an executive decision. Is it really worth the risk for a view of part of the gorge that could be dangerous, when I have seen so much beauty here today?
I decided no and returned to my campground at Anchorage Caravan Park. They had a lovely cool pool there which was a great way to spend the afternoon. A walk across the park to the river that evening had me aboard the Nebraska II for my sunset cruise with Kalbarri Rock Lobster Tours and Charters.