Kalbarri, Western Australia. Part 1 of a 5 part series on Western Australia’s Coral Coast
We spent a few nights in Kalbarri with our kids on our way to Exmouth. We spent three weeks driving from Perth to Exmouth and back to Perth, stopping for a couple of nights here and there along the way. There is so much to see and do along the Western Australian coastline that I will have to tell you about it in a series of blog posts. Part 1 is about Perth to Kalbarri.
Kalbarri, Western Australia
The first leg of the journey was to Kalbarri, approximately 6.5 hours from Perth. The night before everything ready to go, so all we had to do in the morning was load it into the car. We left home at about 10am, and headed north to Jurien Bay stopping to have lunch at Jurien Jetty Cafe. Jurien Bay is part of the Turquoise Coast, it was once predominantly a fishing town, but now is a popular destination for family holidays. Only 3 hours away from Perth city, it’s perfect for a weekend getaway. From Jurien Bay we continued north, stopping in Geraldton for a toilet break, fuel and a snack. We had been on the road for about 4.5 hours and Kalbarri was still another 2 hours away.
Just before Kalbarri is the Principality of Hutt River, ad independent sovereign state since 1970. A regional tourist attraction, the principality has its own currency, stamps and passports. You can even get a stamp in your own passport! Hutt Lagoon in Port Gregory is a salt lake with a pink hue. It’s pinkness is due to the presence of a particular algae. The lagoon contains the world’s largest microalgae production plant. Although the lagoon is not swimmable, it is beautiful and provides a great backdrop for photos. We stopped at the lake to let the kids explore and take a few photos, even though we were really pushed for time.
We made it to Kalbarri just before our accommodation reception closed for the night. I had booked a two bedroom self contained apartment at Kalbarri Seafront Villas. The apartment was clean, spacious and had a large balcony overlooking the Murchison River. The apartment was amazing, it was in a great location and the reception staff were lovely and helpful, I highly recommend it.
At 8:45 every morning, there is pelican feeding on the foreshore (opposite the Murchison Caravan Park). For a gold coin donation, you can watch the pelicans being fed their breakfast of fish and listen to local volunteers give a talk on the history of the pelicans. Some spectators are invited to assist in the feeding the pelicans. It’s a great experience for the whole family.
We stayed in Kalbarri for 3 nights. During this time we explored the rugged coastline, swam in the Murchison River and spent some time in Kalbarri National Park. Some of the places we visited are listed below.
Natural Bridge Stunning coastal views from this cliff top lookout, a perfect vantage point for dolphin and whale watching. The lookout is wheelchair accessible with a picnic table and toilet facilities. For those that like bushwalking, there is a 600m (1.2km return) track that takes you to Island Rock.
Island Rock A viewing platform provides beautiful views of the coastline and Island Rock, a solitary sea stack.
Eagle Gorge Another vantage point for stunning views of the Kalbarri coastline and Indian Ocean. From here you can take a trail down to Eagle Gorge Beach for swimming, snorkelling and fishing. Eagle Gorge is also the starting point for the Bigurda Trail, an 8km bushwalk track that takes hikers across the entire coastal cliff area and ending at the Natural Bridge.
Pot Alley Visitors to Pot Alley can take in the amazing views of the ocean and gorges. A track leads from the carpark down to the beach where you can swim, snorkel and fish.
Rainbow Valley So named, as sometimes the sea mist can create rainbows. A 3km return walking trail leads to Mushroom Rock.
Mushroom Rock Mushroom Rock demonstrates the natural forces of wind and water and the shapes created in the sandstone formations.
Red Bluff Red Bluff is an historical site, offering the visitor views of the sandstone cliffs to the south, and the limestone coast to the north. Wittecarra Creek, just north of Red Bluff, is thought to be the site of the first permanent landing of Europeans in Australia. The vessel, Batavia, wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands in 1629. Following the wreck, a mutiny resulted in the massacre of the surviving men, women and children. Two mutineers landed on the Kalbarri mainland near the mouth of the creek. What became of the two is not known.
Red Bluff Beach A white sandy beach that contrasts beautifully with the red of the cliffs and gorges. A perfect spot for watching the sunset, fishing, swimming and snorkelling.
Blue Holes The best snorkelling in Kalbarri is at Blue Holes. Walk along the beach examining the rock pools along the shore, swim in the protected waters and then sit back and enjoy a stunning WA sunset.
Chinamans Beach Chinamans Beach is a popular swimming spot on the Murchison River. A perfect setting to relax and soak up some sun while dolphin watching. For the energetic visitor there is swimming, windsurfing or paddle boating.
Kalbarri National Park was quite a temperature shock, going from a pleasant coastal temperature to really hot inland temperatures. Take plenty of water to the National Park, you will need it! The park is worth a visit, be sure to check out Nature’s Window and the Z-Bend. There is an entry fee into the park of around $13 per car. If you will be visiting more than 3 national parks during your travels or even for the year, it might be worth looking at an extended period park pass.
August to September is the best time to visit Kalbarri. We were in Kalbarri mid September, just before the school holidays started. It wasn’t too busy with the majority of holidaymakers being grey nomads. I have heard that Kalbarri is very popular during school holidays, so it is best to plan in advance.
We didn’t eat out in Kalbarri as I had prepared a lot of frozen meals to take with us. But if you’re not staying in accommodation that has kitchen facilities, there are a few places to eat out at and there’s also the local IGA supermarket. Some restaurants and cafes that receive great reviews on TripAdvisor are Gorges Cafe, Shawny’s Country Kitchen, Upstairs Restaurant and the best coffee can be found at Bean Drifting.
We loved Kalbarri and I could have stayed longer, but it was time to move on to our next stop, Denham in Shark Bay (Part 2 of this series), around a 4 hour drive from Kalbarri.
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