Nature's Window - Kalbarri National Park

Experience : Kalbarri National Park

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.


Inland Features

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.



Coastal Features

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…



Pink skies @ Loveday 4x4 Adventure Park

Camping in the Riverland

There are heaps of places to camp along the Murray River in the Riverland Region, whether it’s within a national park or a free site along the river.  Parks that require a permit include Murray River National Park, Danggali Conservation Reserve, Chowilla Game Reserve and Loch Luna Game Reserve.  These are available via Parks SA.


Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park

This privately owned 4×4 playground is located right on the Murray River and offers secluded camping, yabbying, fishing and 4×4 driving practice on their excellent touring track.  There is also a pair of lakes that are joined by a small creek, causing them to look like a pair of spectacles – hence the name Spectacle Lake.



There is a fee for this campground.  Check out our post on Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park.



Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park

Along the river are a series of lagoons that birds love to hang about in.  You have the choice of setting up camp right on the river or next to one of the idyllic lagoons.  At sunrise, watch the cliffs along the Murray burn gold and orange, casting beautiful reflections on the water.



Plushs Bend Campground, Renmark

A quick drive outside of town is Plushs Bend, a great camping spot right on the Murray, with toilets, shade and phone reception.  We met some nice people sitting along the banks and having a few drinks.  There was also a solo traveller that looked like he had pissed some people off in the past because he was missing quite a few teeth.  He got a bit clingy so we escaped early the next morning, knowing that he’d still be in bed with a god-awful hangover.  Of course, this annoyance can happen anywhere, not just at Plushs Bend, so please don’t be discouraged about our experience.  The campground is beautiful.



Martins Bend Campground, Berri

Another free camping area next to the Murray which is just outside of town.  No camping is allowed on the lawn between the river and the driveway, but there is plenty of space on the other side of the driveway to find a nook.  There are toilets, a dump point, a caretaker, BBQs and picnic areas, as well as phone reception.