Gorgeous Gorges of Kalbarri
Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
79Trip End Nov 15, 2012
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The town of Port Gregory is protected by an exposed coral reef which stretches about five kilometres, this makes for a stunning bay and had it not been for the strong winds we would have dropped the kayaks in for a paddle. As it was we couldn't even stand out of the car for a coffee as the contents of the cups were being blown out! We sat in the car and watched as the waves crashed against the outer reef thrusting whitewash high into the air; the strong winds were no doubt aiding this spectacular display
Our memories of the drive to Kalbarri were of a long, mundane journey, however we were both blown away by how pretty this new (well, new to us, it opened in 2000 I think!) route was. The road wound its way through rolling green hills and along the stunning coast and of course also took in the delightful hamlets of Horrocks and Port Gregory.
We had been told about Wagoe, a working sheep and cattle station about 20 kilometres south of Kalbarri and were keen to stay there for a night for something different.
To say it was rustic is an understatement; it was like a fisherman camp from days gone by. We had our choice of caravan sites, as apart from two guys staying in a tent down the hill we were it! Perched atop a hill we had the most amazing views out over a narrow green valley full of contented sheep, across sand dunes to the Indian Ocean. We set up our chairs and just sat taking in the views, watching the procession of whales along the Humpback Highway. With the whales putting on quite a show frolicking just for us, we couldn’t take our eyes off them until the sun had disappeared over the horizon.
The wind had picked up throughout the night and whilst it was lovely to step out of the van and be greeted with amazing views, we really needed to find some shelter as there was worse weather scheduled to come through.
In Kalbarri, we were pleased to secure a great site at the back of a park located right in the centre of town, across the road from the bay. This offered us shelter from the strong winds and rain which were imminent, combined with a nice bush setting.
The Kalbarri National Park has two diverse offerings, that of the coastal gorges and that of the river gorges, both breathtaking. The coastal lookouts offered views along the cliffs not dissimilar to those across the Great Australian Bight. From here perched high atop the cliffs we could do more whale watching. The Humpbacks were obviously keen to get to their winter wonderland; the warm waters up north influenced by the Leeuwin current, as were we!
At Pot Alley we were thrilled to be entertained by a few manta rays riding the waves. They were massive and seemed to be having a ball, slapping their giant flippers on the waters’ surface; they had us enthralled for ages
Out the other side of town are the spectacular river gorges, the access roads are gravel and often need to be closed after heavy rain; however we were lucky they were still open and so proceeded out into the park. With water covering the road in several places some areas resembled a quagmire, which all added to the experience of course. It wasn’t long before our vehicle had taken on a rich red hue; our side steps carrying an inch of mud on either side, it was great fun!
We enjoyed some walks and took in the magnificent scenery, wishing there was somewhere to be able to put the kayaks in to the Murchison River to take in views of the gorges from the ground up rather than looking down as we did from so many lookouts. In saying that, the views into the red and white banded gorges forged by the river below over millions of years were nothing short of spectacular, and as the light changed so did the colour of the rocks. On the odd occasion that the sunlight broke through the clouds it drew out the most stunning deep rich colours that contrasted beautifully with the river red gums.
At the Ross Graham lookout there was access to the river and just as we stepped out onto the rocky bank the heavens opened up and a heavy rain shower came through
As we made our way back to the car park we were delighted to see a couple of Wallaroos. Whilst the mother was unperturbed by us, the youngster stayed by its mother's side and didn’t take its eyes off us. It was amazing how close we were to them.
In Kalbarri we were able to enjoy lovely morning walks following the foreshore and out along the coast, though we usually ended up caught in a shower of rain at some stage along the way. For years and years there has been pelican feeding at 8.45am on the Kalbarri foreshore, however we noted there was not a single pelican to be seen in the area, upon enquiry we were told they had all gone to Lake Eyre, isn’t nature fascinating!
On our last night in Kalbarri we went out to dinner at the eclectic Findlay’s Fish BBQ (and yes, I checked they had steak too!). Tucked away in a back street, it was a gem
Whilst the weather had not been conducive to all that we wanted to do in Kalbarri we still loved it, however once again it was time to move on and follow the Humpbacks to warmer water…
Highlights of Kalbarri
- Whale watching from our camp at Wagoe
- Kalbarri Costal Cliffs and watching manta rays riding the waves
- Kalbarri National Park – gorgeous gorges
- Findlay’s Fish BBQ