Kalbarri is full of coastal cliffs, arid landscapes, cool rock formations, and glorious sunsets. It’s a 6-7 hour drive north of Perth, and worth spending at least a couple nights. Here is an itinerary and adventure guide to Kalbarri National Park.
1. NATURE’S WINDOW
Basically the main reason every single person is here. Go as early as possible to avoid the crowd of people and line up around it. If you’re into hiking though, we highly recommend the full 8km loop that starts at Nature’s Window along the cliffs. It heads down into the gorge and continues to follow the Murchison River. You will leave the crowds behind as most people don’t bother doing this hike. The road to Nature’s Window and Z-Bend is unsealed, but totally manageable without 4WD.
TIPS for Nature’s Window loop trail:
- Bring a TON of water. In the summer this hike can reach temperatures over 40 degrees.
- Wear a hat and lots of sunscreen as well, you’re completely exposed for the majority of the hike.
- Lastly, a FLY NET will save your life. We had our own from working on the farm, and a group of hikers who passed us offered $100 for ours because the flies are really THAT BAD.
Right after Nature’s Window, drive back towards Z-bend and see the canyon that has been carved out by the Murchison River. It’s an easy 500m walk from the car park. There is also a steep 1 km trail (including ladders), down to the rivers edge where you can go for a swim!
Four Ways Trail: Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for this 6km return trail. It’s a moderate-difficult trail from the Z-Bend car park down to the river.
3. HAWKS HEAD and ROSS GRAHAM LOOKOUT
If you have the time, Hawks Head (200m return) and Ross Graham Lookout (700m return) are short walks from the car park and provide more great views of the Murchison River. You can also take a short walk down to the rivers edge at Ross Graham Lookout. These two lookouts are a bit further out of the way and less people stop here.
4. RED BLUFF
In the evening, go check out the sunset from the top of Red Bluff! It is a short, paved path from the car park to the lookout, with the highest elevation point in the area.
Today you’ll leave the inland behind for the beautiful and scenic coastal walks! We started with the one furthest away and made our way back up towards town. Each turn off along the main road for these attractions is signed.
Natural Bridge is a great lookout only 200m from the car park, and a 15min drive south from the town of Kalbarri.
Island Rock was once part of the coastline but now stands as a sea stack. From Natural Bridge, take the Bigurda Boardwalk (only 1.2km return) to Island Rock. Alternatively you can drive to Island Rock but we recommend the short boardwalk! We also spotted a Nankeen Kestrel, a small bird of prey, which was pretty cool. The Bigurda Trail continues on from here to Eagle Gorge (16km return) but we chose to drive to the rest of the stops.
I guess it does look like a house made of shells. At least that’s what fishermen at sea thought it looked like.
More dope views of multicoloured seaside cliffs! There’s also a rocky path down to a secluded beach.
Also named by the local fishermen after losing many pots in this hazardous cove. Another rocky path leads down to a beach but swimming is not allowed due to this dangerous coastline.
RAINBOW VALLEY to MUSHROOM ROCK LOOP TRAIL
A 3km loop walk that feels like you’re on Mars. The rocky landscape is so red, which contrasts with the bright blue of the ocean. You can park at either end, but we chose to start at Rainbow Valley and head clockwise towards Mushroom Rock.
I guess Mushroom Rock looks kind of like a mushroom? Maybe don’t ask two biologists.
Kalbarri has a huge feral goat (and fox) problem. They’re savage. Okay not really, but they do disturb the unique ecosystem! Efforts have been made (aka culling) to protect fragile plant and animal communities such as rock wallabies, which have been driven to extinction in the area from fox predation and habitat destruction by goats.
Watch the sunset from down below this evening while you enjoy the waves. Admire the reflection of the sunset in tide pools. This beach is quiet, we almost had it all to ourselves.
Everyday at 8:45am on the beach across the street from Murchison Caravan Park, volunteers feed a small amount of fish to the local pelicans. You’re almost guaranteed to see them, those guys know exactly what time to head towards shore for breakfast. While we don’t always support feeding wildlife, we did appreciate only a controlled amount is given to them, and we always love when education is involved. The volunteers were super knowledgeable – did you know a pelican skeleton is less than 10% of their total body weight?! WHAT ARE THEY MADE OF, AIR? Actually, yeah kinda. They have air sacs in their bones and within other parts of the body to increase buoyancy and allow them to still fly to great heights! So cool.
Time for some snorkeling! Blue Holes is a Fish Habitat Protection Area (no fishing zone). Try to time your swim with low tide, when this inshore limestone reef system is most protected. We spotted a variety of coral and small fish including butterfly fish, humbugs, pufferfish, and scissortail sergeants. A lot of the fish seemed pretty accustomed to people and would even curiously follow us.
If you’re an experienced surfer, head to the nearby reef break at Jakes Point.
- There is a $12 park entry fee per vehicle, consider getting a Holiday Park Pass if your journey continues.
- On your way to/from Kalbarri, consider stopping at the nearby Hutt Lagoon – a PINK lake, or the Principality of Hutt River – a country within the country of Australia, where you can even get your passport stamped.
Camping: Murchison House Station ($12.50 per person – Open April to October)
Review: Best campsite around Kalbarri if you’re on a budget! It was a really nice and quiet location right by the river. The kitchen was clean and fully equipped with everything you need including a fridge. Bathrooms were also clean with hot showers! We had no problem finding a site or getting there along the unsealed road in our 2WD. (April 2017). NOTE: WRONG DIRECTIONS ON GOOGLE MAPS/THEIR WEBSITE. Google maps will actually take you to Kalbarri Quadbike Safaris. Keep driving straight past this until you see a large Murchison House Station sign on the side of the road, turn left and drive along the unsealed road until you reach the station.
If you’re heading south past Perth, check out my adventure guide to South West Australia!