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Explore Town

Kalbarri

Visitor Centre:
Kalbarri Visitor Centre
Grey Street
Phone: 08 9937 1104
Fax: 08 9937 1474
Visitor website: www.kalbarri.org.au
General:
Kalbarri is a picturesque seaside town located 590km North of Perth midway along Australia’s Coral Coast. The town itself is located at the mouth of the Murchison River, an ideal playground for families to relax, swim, fish and snorkel in the aqua blue waters. Surrounded by National Park, Kalbarri offers dramatic inland gorges, magnificent coastal scenery and a variety of wildlife and wildflowers. Humpback whales grace our coastline seasonally and adventure tours for all types of visitors are on offer, making Kalbarri the perfect holiday choice.
Seasons
Kalbarri enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate with refreshing afternoon ocean breezes, each season revealing many different experiences to encounter
Summer - December to February. A warm time of year with an average overnight temp of 19 degrees and daytime temp average 33 degrees. Traditionally a very busy period with swimming, BBQ’s and water activities a popular pastime. Summer maximums can reach as high as 45 degrees, so please be prepared.
Autumn - March to May – A transition from hot summer days to balmy blue skies with little wind and stunning days, often the most popular time of the year for visitation. Perfect fishing weather and ideal time for a family holiday
Winter - June to August – Heathland explodes into a kaleidoscope of colour with the onset of wildflower season, bringing clear skies with a max of 22 degrees daily and 10 degrees overnight. A great time for hiking, caravanning and wildflower viewing.
Spring - September to November
With Humpback whale season in full swing and average day time temps of 26 degrees, Kalbarri is alive during Sept and October, with November quietening down for the shrewd traveller seeking solitude.
History:
Over the centuries, the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri have witnessed many shipwrecks. The history of the area dates back to 1629, when Commander Pelsaert marooned two unfortunate men, Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom, for their part in the Batavia mutiny and massacre.
It’s possible that these were the first white men to settle in Australia, not by choice but by circumstance. A plaque on a memorial at Wittecarra Gully commemorates this historic occasion today.
The next visit to these shores was in 1696, when the Dutch navigator Willem De Vlaming landed here in search of water, during exploration of the coastline.
In 1712, the Dutch East India Company ship, ‘Zuytdorp’, was wrecked near Kalbarri. The fate of the survivors of this shipwreck is a mystery.
In 1839, another unlucky explorer, Lieutenant Grey, was wrecked on the coast with his companions, while attempting to land through the surf.
The party had no option but to return to Perth on foot, suffering dreadful hardships on the journey. FISHING:
Kalbarri boasts some of the best, easily accessible, all year round, shore and boat angling between Perth and Exmouth. Deep water adjacent to the shoreline and the cliffs provides an environment where anything is possible
Indigenous Culture
Nanda are the salt water people. Keepers of the land and sea, they have a spiritual connection to the land and mother earth.
Aboriginal people known as the Nanda inhabited an area including Kalbarri, west to Willa Gulli and mouth of the Bowes River, East to Northampton and North to Tamala.
These aboriginal people believe mythological Dreamtime beings sculptured the land to what we see today. Long ago during the spiritual dream time a serpent called Beemarra travelled down the Murchison River, drawn by the unfamiliar sound of the pounding waves. The Beemarra followed a creek and then disappeared under ground to tunnel her way to the coast. Emerging at Kalbarri coastal cliffs, Beemarra was terrified by the thundering waves and fled back to the safety of the Murchison River, as she fled her passage was marked by a tunnel through an outcrop of red sandstone. She rested in many places leaving fresh water where she had lain, these fresh water springs are still in existence today and are registered sites with the Department of Indigenous affairs. 209 Aboriginal heritage sites are also registered in this area.
The local Nanda community are working hard to keep their heritage and culture alive.
Shipwrecks
The Murchison River was named by the explorer George Grey, whose boats were wrecked at its mouth on 1 April 1839, during his second disastrous exploratory expedition; the name honours the Scottish geologist Sir Roderick Murchison. Murchison's advocacy had been essential in securing official support for Grey's Western Australian expeditions.
The remote and windswept coastline of Kalbarri has been the tragic setting of many shipwrecks over time.
One of the more famous shipwrecks was Batavia, a ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It was built in Amsterdam in 1628, armed with 24 cast-iron cannons and a number of bronze guns. Shipwrecked on her maiden voyage on June 4 1629, she struck Morning Reef, part of the Abrolhos Islands group and was made famous by the subsequent mutiny and massacre that took place among the survivors. Commander Pelsaert left survivors on the island to made the miraculous journey to Java in a tiny long boat for help, the crew plotted mutiny while Wiebbe Hayes and his followers held the mutineers at bay until Pelsaert returned. Among the mutineers some were sentence to death, some taken home for sentencing and two cast ashore at Kalbarri, believed to be the site of Wittecarra Creek.
In 1712, the Zuytdorp, also a Dutch East India Company vessel was wrecked along the high limestone cliffs between Kalbarri and Steep Point, while voyaging to Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). Rich cargo of 248,000 freshly minted silver coins, along with 200 passengers. Hundreds of coins have been recovered from the famous ‘carpet of silver’ in and around the wreck. The precise circumstances of the wreck remain a mystery, because no survivors reached Batavia to tell the tale. Some did live for a time in Shark Bay, where they were helped by local Aboriginal people. This contact with Europeans was probably the first ever made by Australia’s indigenous people to last longer than a brief encounter experienced in previous exploration voyagers by Europeans.
The Zest Festival was created in 2012 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Zuytdorp shipwreck and the cultural heritage of the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC) in Western Australia. Each year the Zest Festival highlights the cultural contribution of a country along the VOC trading route. In 2014 we’ll be exploring the culture of Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.
The Lobster and Fishing Industry
Wet liners (fishing vessels) and lobster boats lined the penns and dotted the Murchison River on moorings at a time when the fishing fleet was the backbone of employment in Kalbarri. These numbers have more than halved in recent years due to fishing regulations and a general change in the industry. On a Global scale fish resources are being exploited, however WA’s outstanding management systems are working to ensure all our fisheries are ecologically sustainable to bring high standards vital to the long-term viability of our fishing industry.
Fresh lobster catches are unloaded directly from the vessel and transported to Geraldton for processing, lobster is not available for sale direct from the boats. Fresh lobster is often featured on the local restaurants menu and can be purchased from a few outlets in town. Fresh fish can be purchased directly from the boats at the warf.
Kalbarri is now best known as a tourism town with a relaxed holiday vibe that attracts over 100,000 visitors per year.
Attractions:
The Murchison River
The Murchison River starts its journey in the ancient rangelands near Meekatharra, negotiating dry planes, slopes, salt lakes, hills and gorges as many rivers runoff to form this massive catchment area. Cyclonic activity in the north of the state drop heavy rain into our catchment area, resulting in floodwaters reaching Kalbarri up to 3 weeks later. In extreme flood events, muddy brown water can be seen emptying into the ocean creating a stark contrast between blue water and brown, predatory fish lay in wait for the river inhabitants to be flushed out for a feast. These floodwaters carry an amazing array of nutrients that nourishes and restores the river system, within a month the river is teeming with life again.
National Park
Kalbarri National Park covers an area of 186,000 hectares and encircles the Kalbarri town site giving the National Park two contrasting settings. South of Kalbarri features magnificent towering ocean cliffs, plummeting to the waves below. Heading north of town are inland river gorges with rock formations as old as 400million years. The rugged terrain and relative seclusion of the Kalbarri National Park attract thousands of visitors each year, with 14 distinct sites there is diverse access for the experienced hiker to the simple holiday maker.
The roads to the coastal sites are sealed and suitable for all vehicles, excluding pot Alley which is not suitable for caravans or motorhomes. The roads into the inland gorge sites at Hawk’s Head and Ross Graham are also sealed with shade shelters, toilets and picnic facilities. The road to the Z-Bend and Loop areas has seen a major upgrade in 2013 and as such the first 12km is now sealed, the remaining 19km is unsealed, however accessible to most traffic including two-wheel drives, excluding motorhomes, large campervans and any vehicle towing. We recommend to check with the visitor centre on road conditions as rainfall can alter conditions and close this road.
Meanarra Hill Lookout
This limestone capped peak is visible from several different locations around Kalbarri, Take the short walk to learn how this area was once part of a massive coral reef system in ancient times, when this was once the sea floor. At 207m above sea level this is the perfect vantage point for 360degrees views of Kalbarri and the Murchison River flowing into the Indian Ocean.
Inland Gorges
Nature's Window
A 1km return walk from the car park brings you to one of WA’s most iconic natural attractions – Nature’s Window. This rock arch frames the river perfectly and is top on the list of photo opportunities. (Class 3 Hike)
The Loop
For the more adventurous or experienced walker, starting and ending at Natures window is the 8km loop track. Taking 3 to 4 hours with moderate to challenging terrain, with spectacular scenery. (Class 4 Hike)
Z-Bend
Considered by many to offer the most breathtaking view of the park, the Z-Bend lookout can be reached by a 700m walk trail from the car park. The gorge plunges 150m down to the river below where red river gums create a striking contrast against the earthy Tumblagooda sandstone (Class 3 Hike)
Z-Bend river Trail is a demanding hike providing river access from the Z-Bend lookout path. Expect loose rocks, steep descents and ladder climbs with spectacular scenery along this 2.6km return trail. (Class 4 Hike)
Hawk’s Head
Hawks head is aptly names after the shape of the rock structure seen from the lookout. Enjoy the gorge views from a picnic area or wander down the sealed path to the lookout above the river. (Class 1 Hike)
Ross Graham Lookout
Named after the first school teacher in Kalbarri, Ross Graham was a devoted conservationist who aided in the exploration of the Murchison River. This lookout offers breathtaking views over the gorges, Take a short walk from the lookout down to the river's edge and relax under the shady canopy. (Class 3 Hike)
• Overnight Hikes: are available within the park, please contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife Kalbarri office for further information (08) 9937 1140
• Heat: Summer temperatures can be extreme the river gorge, normally 10 degrees hotter than in Kalbarri. Wear a hat, loose fitting clothing, sturdy footwear and walk in the early morning or late afternoon.
• Water: Drinking water is not available in the National Park, so always carry your own supply. It is recommended that you allow 3 to 4 litres of water per person per day.
• Coast and Cliff Risk Area: Stay clear of cliff edges and overhangs. Keep to paths and lookouts
Coastal Cliffs
These sites are a short 16 km drive south of Kalbarri and offer walk trails and sandstone cliffs that plunge more than 100 meters to the ocean. The coastline slowly yields to the force of the ocean with fracturing and decaying cliffs that sculpt amazing rock formations. Allow plenty of time to explore this remarkable expanse of rugged coastline.
Natural Bridge
A short walk from the car park on asphalt paths to stunning coastal views of Natural Bridge. The perfect stage to be on the lookout for marine life, including whales and dolphins from the safety of the lookout platform. The Birgurda boardwalk is a 1.2km (return) walk between Natural Bridge and Island Rock which can be accessed from the Natural Bridge car park. This walk along a recycled plastic boardwalk, including a new picnic shelter, not only protects the precious coastline it recently earned The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) the coveted “Western Australian Coastal Award for Excellence 2013.
Island Rock
Is a hardwearing solitary sea stack standing alone against the forces of the ocean, Viewing platforms are a short distance from the car park and provide spectacular views of this lonely rock landmass.
Shellhouse Grandstand
The continual pounding of the Indian Ocean claims massive pieces of this soft limestone coast, leaving remnant cliff formations. The cliffs are often best viewed in the late afternoon as the setting sun, glows across the sandstone rock faces.
Eagle Gorge
As you take in views from the Eagle Gorge lookout watch for seasonal whales and seabirds while listening to the pound of the waves below. For the one seeking a little extra, take the stepped rocky trail to discover the bottom of the gorge and find a beach that’s well worth the effort.
Bigurda Trail
The 8km or 16km return hike is from Eagle Gorge to Natural Bridge. It hugs the coastline and cliff tops providing stunning coastal views and great photo opportunities along the way. Sightings of dolphin pods are common and this is often the best place to see the rarer Southern right whales up close in season. For the wildflower enthusiast, this unique nature trail offers a wealth of different species staring in the winter months and following through to the end of spring. The trail is named after the Nanda word for the small kangaroo often seen here, the Bigurda also known as the Euro. (Class 3 Hike)
Pot Alley
Pot Alley was named by local Cray fisherman after losing many pots to this hazardous rocky cove. The view south from the cliff top truly captures the rugged beauty of our coastline. Take the winding, rocky walk down to this beautiful beach. Great to explore however swimming is not recommended, the life buoy revealing the danger of this coastline.
Mushroom Rock and Rainbow Valley Walk Trail
This 3km loop trail takes you on a contrasting journey of discovery. Informative signage along this path takes you back 400million years to a time when Australia was known as Gondwana land and marine life ruled the planet. See a bizarre range of rock formations from worm tubes, to round boulders and banded colours of sandstone layers. At dawn or dusk witness kangaroos feeding, amidst the coastal heath and rocky outcrops, the ocean never being far from sight.
Red Bluff lookout
Red Bluff marks the northern start of the coastal gorges, it is one if the highest elevation points making this site very popular for whale watching and photo opportunities. Characterised by a soaring cliff face overlooking sandy beaches and the harsh Zuytdorp cliffs to the north, the daunting reality of this treacherous coastline and its many shipwrecks comes to light.
Beaches
Red Bluff Beach - A white sandy beach, ideal for swimming, relaxation and beach combers alike. Take a walk to the left of the beach to investigate the winding rock platforms along the shore line and amaze in the changing colours of the Tumblagooda sandstone.
Wittecarra Creek -Thought to be site of the marooning of two Dutch sailors exiled to the mainland for their involvement in Batavia mutiny after its shipwreck on morning reef at the Abrolhos Islands in 1629. Today the stretch of beach from Wittecarra south to the Red Bluff cliff is popular choice for beach fisherman. An interpretive sign marks the site and provides information on the history.
Jakes Bay - The locals beach providing protected areas from the summer prevailing winds and is family friendly with many dune restoration projects underway. Natural elevation of the land provides a great grandstand for spectators and the perfect photo opportunity of surfers and dolphins riding the waves.
Siphon - An ideal stretch of shoreline to go for an early morning walk. A relatively quiet beach, you may be lucky to sight one of the many pods of bottlenose dolphins inhabiting this section of coast
Blue Holes - Kalbarri’s Blue Holes is a Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA) and as such, snorkelers can enjoy viewing as many as 10 types of sponge, 11 species of coral, crustaceans such as banded hair shrimp and beds of oysters. The reefs sea grass, reef platform and coral gardens are home to more than 70 species of finfish – many of them tropical. Just some of the fish to look for include Dart, Moon Wrasse, Raccoon Butterfly Fish, Humbugs and Western Rock Lobster.
 All marine life is protected and no fishing activities permitted.
 Recreational boating and the use of jet skis in the FHPA is prohibited.
Back Beach - A great place for exploring the rock pools at low tide with exposed oyster beds. A favourite with locals, the back beach is a short stroll from town, from the northern end you can connect with Chainman’s point and the Zuytdorp memorial lookouts. The Melaleuca walk/bike path starts here which takes you past Rainbow Jungle and continues 8km out of town to the outer edge of our residential area.
Chinaman’s Beach - Swim in aqua blue waters of the Murchison River and enjoy protection from the ocean currents and swells. A great spot to picnic with the family and relax. The swimming bay is a no fishing Zone, however Chinaman’s point and the newly constructed wheel chair accessible platform is a great place for throwing in a line.
River Foreshore - A beautifully maintained foreshore with shady trees, shelter huts and playgrounds with BBQ’s. This is an ideal location to spend the day and swim in the safe calm water or take a stroll on the white sandy beach. Sunset is a favourable time to capture the perfect photograph. Signed areas designate dog exercise areas.
Flora
One mention of wildflowers and many people will think of Kalbarri - over 800 species with many unique to the area. Starting at the end of June through to October, travellers make their way here from all over the world to witness the transformation. The coastal areas of the National Park boast plants such as Murchison Rose which can only be found here in Kalbarri. Make your way inland and the sand plains become carpets of pink and white Everlastings and Orange Immortelles, jostling for space between Starflowers, Kangaroo paws, Featherflowers and Orchids to name a just a few. One of the last flower to emerge is the aptly named Smelly Socks (White Plum Grevillia) with the flowers on the end of long stalks and low Grevillia shrubbery, these beautiful flowers attract many insects and release a sickly sweet smell at dusk and into the evening.
At the northern entry of the National park, visitors will notice pine trees along the roadside, these Sandplain Cypress (Actinostrobus) are actually a native to our area and locals refer to them as Christmas trees
Kalbarri offers exceptional spring weather and easy access for all visitors to enjoy the amazing spectacle of Mother Nature. Kalbarri Visitor Centre keeps up to date with what's flowering where, so pop in to see the friendly staff and get the local intel!

Fauna
The Department of Parks and wildlife Western Shield programs is aimed at eradicating feral animals and reintroducing Native mammals to their former habitat. In general we have a fox and goat control program, as well as returning animals such as the Chuditch and Woylie to the National Park. Some of the most common animals you will encounter are Euro Kangaroos, Emus, Echidnas and Ta-Ta lizards to name a few. One of the most fascinating creatures is the Thorny Devil, this intimidating, prehistoric looking reptile feeds exclusively on small Black Ants and instead of drinking water, has the amazing ability to absorb water through its skin like a straw. Also adept at camouflage the Devil will often freeze when approached trusting its camouflage to fool the predator.
Kalbarri has an abundant bird population with as many as 170 species. Along the coast you will encounter Sea-Eagles and Osprey and the ever popular Pelicans and Sand Pipers. If out at sea you may be lucky enough to catch the flight of a Yellow-nose Albatross. Wedge-Tailed Eagles are often spied patrolling the deep gorges, while Fairy Martins and Swallows nest in the cliff faces.
The lower reaches of the Murchison River is home an amazing array of birdlife with the Red-tailed Cockatoos, Carnabys, Egrets, Kites, Wood Ducks and black Swans. In the town site swarms of Pink and Grey Gala’s, ringneck parrots mudlarks and Cuckoo Shrikes can been seen often in the trees and grassed foreshores.