Kalbarri National Park is about 500km north of Perth and covers over 180,000 hectares from the coast to the North West Coastal Highway. The sandstone plain is marked by the Murchison River, which winds for 150km through the national park, creating beautiful gorges and providing the surrounding plants and wildlife with much needed water. The park is home to a variety of animals like emus, kangaroos, lizards and wedge-tail eagles. We may have also seen a thorny devil trying to cross the dusty road on our way to the Loop.
The weather can be quite extreme, with temperatures reaching almost 50 degrees at the height of summer. Make sure you have enough water with you before you go for any hikes in the park, with the best time to go exploring being the early morning or late afternoon. It’s a good idea to wear sunscreen and a great bush hat like our Barmah Hats to protect you from the sun.
The gorges of the Murchison River are easily accessible by road and a quick walk will either lead you to a breathtaking lookout or along a walking trail down into the gorge. We sussed out all of the landmarks at Kalbarri National Park and were blown away by the beautiful isolation.
Hawk’s Head Lookout & Ross Graham Lookout
It was really windy when we arrived, but that didn’t deter us from enjoying the view. We were amazed at how clear the water was and afterwards, we walked down into the gorge. The water was refreshing as we waded through it with little fish swimming around our feet.
Natures Window and the Loop
This location was fantastic and provides a variety of lookouts and a long, 8km hike down into the Loop. We arrived at around midday and while we would have loved to spend a few hours hiking, it was way too hot and we didn’t want to risk having a bad time.
We did explore a little bit and were fascinated by the colourful layering of Tumblagooda sandstone, with clear representations of an ancient rippled sea bed. We got some photos in Nature’s Window, a natural arched rock that perfectly frames the Murchison River below (although the river was a bit dry).
Z Bend Gorge
Even though this was the last gorge we looked at, it was our favourite! The narrow waterway drops down 150m with high, rugged cliffs on both sides and a few river gums to break through the red, earthy colour of the sandstone. We could have sat and gazed into the gorge all day.
A short drive south of the town of Kalbarri are the coastal gorges. Red Bluff is the first rock feature outside of town. You can actually drive out onto the red rock before going for a walk along the cliffs. We also checked out the Shellhouse and Grandstand, as well as Island Rock and Natural Bridge.
Mushroom Rock can be found on the walk through Rainbow Alley, which is a great 3km exploration of a rocky landscape that makes you think you’re walking on Mars! Some rocks are smooth and knobbly while others are sharp and layered. Once we got to Mushroom Rock, which is a flat rock perched on a large boulder, we explored the rock pools and crevices and found lots of crabs – brown ones, purple ones, yellow ones – funny little critters…