The Gorges of Kalbarri National Park

Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

From Rocky Mountain High

Beautiful song and lyrics by Mike Taylor and the late, great John Denver

Kalbarri National Park, in Western Australias Gascoyne region and a few kilometres inland from the coastal Kalbarri township does not quite harbour a clear blue mountain lake. But it does offer a vast vista of forest and streams and in this era of coronavirus and non-travel, grace and solitude. The inland gorges formed as part of the Murchison River system are a pancake stack of geological history. Right before the eye is 400 million years of the earth’s life on display in a wave of fawn and ochre layers. The 500 metre walk from the carpark to the naturally formed rock formation named Nature’s Window is easy for all. We also walked the more taxing River Trail at the obviously named Z-Bend. Some 1.2 kms long it descends 150 metres down through narrow canyons and scrubland to the river and is a good workout. But the gorges are not all that pulls people here. To the south of Kalbarri town are spectacular cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean below including the well named Blue Holes. These are part of a marine park and with clear blue water over sandy holes formed in the rock reefs offer fantastic snorkelling. We, of course, enjoyed an afternoon lazily floating with mask and snorkel above colorful reef fish of all stripes. Around Red Bluff the cliffs are unique being uncovered sandstone rather than the usual grey limestone. They stand some 100 metres above the ocean below and the iron ore deposits give them their spectacular red colour.

Nature’s Window in Kalbarri National Park is a reminder of the power of time. Kalbarri township is at the mouth of the Murchison River. The Murchison is W.A.s second longest river at 820 kms and is fed by the regular cyclonic activity which forms in the north of the state emerging at Kalbarri around three weeks later. Kalbarri itself is home to all kinds of birdlife including pelicans, emus and galahs while along the coast sea eagles, ospreys and the yellow nosed albatross can be seen hunting the ocean shallows.

We arrived in Kalbarri from Green Head now that travel restrictions have been eased within W.A. It is a small coastal town at the mouth of the Murchison River and survives on lobster fishing and tourism. Murchison Caravan Park is in the town centre and we were one of only a few campers. We were told that within a few days they would be full. Just goes to show that people have been frustrated with lockdown and are ready to go. It is a long weekend (W. A. State Day) and we are now seeing some families about. The shopkeepers seem very phlegmatic about events so for their sake we hope it all goes off. We had a meal in the Kalbarri Tavern – 20 only although only about 10 booked – and I asked the barman how it had been going. “This is the first beer I’ve poured in 2 months” he said. “This is our first night open”. I felt somewhat privileged.

I thought I would try a game of golf at the Kalbarri Golf Course. For a dry area the greens were, well very green and the fairways obviously watered. A quick look down the ninth fairway from the clubhouse showed me something I had never seen on a golf course before. A family of emus were happily feeding, middle fairway and about 100 metres from the tee. I asked someone there if you needed to wait until they moved. “Nah” he said. “Just play over them. They’ll be fine”.

We are now heading for Denham in Shark Bay. Our longer term plan is to reach Broome by early July. We are hopeful the Kimberley Region will be open by then. The word is that the caravaners were lined up at the borders ready for opening last Friday but we haven’t seen them here yet. No doubt it will be all on over the next couple of days so we are keen to get north before we get swamped.

7 thoughts on “The Gorges of Kalbarri National Park

  1. Very impressive travelogue, particularly like the Nature’s Window photo Mike.
    I wonder if there is anything in the golf club rules about Emus on the course – maybe a compulsory donation to the WWF If perchance your ball hits one!
    Cheers Randal


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