Kalbarri is one of the neatest towns I have seen and is a base for the features open on the Murchison Gorge where for eighty kilometres the river has cut down through the layers of sandstone for over a hundred metres. The 183,000 hectare Kalbarri National Park encompasses the gorge and is also well known for displays of flowering shrubs and other wildflowers in spring. There are also coastal gorges and rock feature within the National Park, along the coastline south of the Kalbarri townsite.
The park is also home to around 200 species of fauna including around 150 species of birds.
The Tumblagooda Sandstone was laid down about 430 million years ago. The lack of marine fossils in the sandstone indicates that the layers were deposited on dry land, and at a time when life was only just becoming established on dry land. This sandstone has been lifted and the subsequent softer layers from above it have been eroded away. Ref: “Geology of Western Australia’s National Parks – Geology for Everyone”, Peter Lane ISBN 0 646 43995 2.
On the Highway there is a very good Main Roads WA 24 hour rest area at Galena Bridge over the Murchison River to the north of the Ajana-Kalbarri Road. This is accessed from a loop of old road so the rest area is away from the noise of the highway. An ideal place to stop first night if heading north from Perth.
to Kalbarri on the Ajana-Kalbarri Road, there is a lesser known four wheel drive track on the eastern edge of the park which divides
with one track overlooking and interesting formation of rocks known as The Maze where channels of water run in different directions
over the rocks. The other track goes steeply down a washed out track to the river and a small pool where in the past we have
camped overnight. High clearance four wheel drive only and not suitable for trailers.
The first signed turn-off in the National Park is a sealed short drive which accesses the Ross Graham Lookout and the Hawk’s Head Lookout. There is an honesty box for payment of park entry fees.
The Ross Graham Lookout has views across a meander in the river, and you can see the river gorges making a loop. From the Ross Graham Lookout, a walk trail goes down to the river’s edge, and an up to 38 kilometres hike can be taken over two days (as far as the Z-Bend) to four days along the river to The Loop. The latter is for experienced hikers and there is a requirement to notify Rangers before and after undertaking long walks, and groups must include at least five experienced hikers.
Hawks Head has a wheelchair accessible lookout over the river gorge. Look for the “hawk’s head” shaped rock high on the gorge wall. Picture at right:
The access road to the Z-Bend and The Loop also has an honesty box for payment of park entry fees and a parking area for caravans and trailers whilst in the National Park. Part of this road and the roads on to both the Z-Bend and The Loop are unsealed, but further sealing of these is in the management plan.
The Z-Bend Lookout overlooks the river at another meandering section and an additional challenging walk can be taken down to the river.
The Loop has short walks from a large car parking area to two lookouts as well as a walk on across the rocky surface to Nature’s Window, overlooking the meandering river gorge.
From here, there is an eight kilometre loop walk around the loop in the river, which includes going down to the river’s edge.
Kalbarri National Park on the Murchison River