Kalbarri National Park. National Park in Western Australia, Australia

Kalbarri National Park

National Park in Western Australia, Australia

Kalbarri National Park Photo © nico

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Kalbarri National Park

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Kalbarri National Park lies about 485 kilometers north of Perth in the Mid-West region of Western Australia. It is one of the most spectacular and exciting national parks in the entire state. The Murchison River Gorge is almost 80 kilometers long and dissects the park, while the coastal scenery consists of magnificent cliffs, the mouth of the Murchison River, which is Western Australia’s second-longest river, and beaches. The nearby town of Kalbarri (Wikipedia Article) lies on the banks of the river’s mouth and is a great base to explore the region. Kalbarri National Park contains the Murchison River’s lower reaches. The gorge created by the river over millions of years clearly shows the white and red bands of sandstone in the cliffs. Spectacular natural features include Z-Bend, Hawks Head, and Nature’s Window. Natural landmarks along the coast are Red Bluff, Eagle Gorge, Rainbow Valley, and Natural Bridge. Some cliffs reach up to 100 meters high.

Kalbarri National Park protects the desert areas around the Murchison River Gorge, the gorge with its colored Tumblagooda sandstone bands, as well as a section of the coastline. The park’s landscapes have been carved out by wind and weather in the course of millions of years.

The region is well-known for its abundance of wildflowers in spring. Wildflower season starts in late July and lasts until October. This is when visitors can see a colorful spectacle created by more than 800 species of blooming wildflowers, incidentally the world’s largest variety of wildflowers. The region is of major botanic importance, as 60% of the wildflowers in the state aren't found anywhere else on the planet. 21 species are endemic to the coastal cliffs and gorges of Kalbarri National Park. Examples are the Kalbarri Catspaw, Murchison Hammer Orchid, and Kalbarri Spider Orchid.

In addition to numerous plant species, wildlife in the national park is abundant as well. There are more than 200 animal species found along the Murchison River and an extra 400 closer to the coast and around Kalbarri town. Emus, Wedge-Tailed Eagles, Cockatoos, Peregrine Falcons, and Australian Pelicans are just a few of the 150 native bird species in Kalbarri National Park. Other animals are Grey Kangaroos, Spinifex Hopping Mice, Echidnas, Thorny Devils, and many snakes and other reptiles.

History

The local Aborigines have called these lands home for tens of thousands of years, and the Murchison River plays an important role in their Dreamtime story. Because of the river’s remarkably winding and twisting flow, it is believed that it was created by the Rainbow Serpent (Wikipedia Article).

Because of the large number of shipwrecks off the Kalbarri coast, European settlement was non-existent for a long time. It wasn't until the 1940s that settlers – farmers, miners, and fishermen – began moving into the area around present-day Kalbarri town. It was declared an official town in 1948 and Kalbarri National Park was established in 1963. Nowadays, the Kalbarri region is a major tourist destination on the coast of Western Australia.

Things to See and Do

A truly spectacular park, Kalbarri National Park offers a plethora of activities for all ages and all abilities. Popular things to do include fishing, hiking, road trips, swimming, boating, and surfing. The best time to visit is August or September, when the park is covered in a colorful carpet of blooming wildflowers.

The national park has a fine selection of scenic hikes and lookouts. There are short walks to lookout points along the Murchison River Gorge, such as Ross Graham Lookout, Hawks Head, the Loop, and Z-Bend. The Loop/Nature’s Window, a rock arch that beautifully frames a view of the gorge, is probably the park’s most famous attraction. Z-Bend is another well-known lookout point, offering stunning views down the gorge and of the river. Both lookouts are accessed along an easy walking path. The park’s wilderness also offers longer day hikes and even long-distance multiday hikes. Information can be obtained at the visitor center. For striking coastal landscapes, visitors should head to Meanarra Hill, Red Bluff, Eagle Gorge, Natural Bridge, or Rainbow Valley.

Other activities that can be done in and around the national park are kayaking, canoeing, abseiling, picnicking, and snorkeling. Several companies based in Kalbarri offer activities and tours as well.

How to Get There

Kalbarri is located 500 kilometers north of Perth, a six-hour drive on the beautiful Indian Ocean Drive (Wikipedia Article), which runs all the way to Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. An alternative route is driving north via the Brand Highway and then onto the North West Coastal Highway in Geraldton.

Visitors can also access Kalbarri by bus with TransWA and Integrity. The nearest airport is in Geraldton, where car rentals are available.

Similar Landmarks

The most famous similar national parks in Western Australia are Karijini National Park and Purnululu National Park. Stunning coastlines can be seen in Francois Peron National Park and Nambung National Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Oct 25, 2014

Pictures of Kalbarri National Park

Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park. Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

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