The town of Kalbarri is located at the mouth of the Murchison River and has become a Mecca for tourists.
It was originally established in 1951 and was primarily a fishing settlement but the history of Europen contact with the
coast dates much further back than that.
The coastline in this area is spectacular, the fishing - when you can get a boat out of the river mouth - is good, and there
are crabs to be caught in the river.
We know from experience that there are also some large mulloway to be caught in the river not far from the entrance.
The commercial fishing industry has declined over the years and Kalbarri's future seems to be much more closely aligned
with the tourism industry. There is, however, a small fishing fleet that operates from the town marina.
Kalbarri has all kinds of accommodation from basic camping to very up-market apartments.
It used to be one of those places at 'the end of the track' and it was really all the better for it.
Now George Grey Drive follows the coast south to Port Gregory,
Horrocks Beach and Northampton
and it has opened up the whole area to tourists in a way that was not possible before.
This has been both a good and bad thing, but Kalbarri is developing quickly and by the look of the
housing developments going in along the hills south of town it won't be too long before it loses its 'end of the track' charm.
To the north of town there is a myriad of tracks leading along the Murchison River.
This area is very popular with 4 wheel drivers and the tracks range from easy to somewhat challenging.
There are many very pleasant areas along the river where you can stop en enjoy a picnic, although there are no facilities.
Kalbarri National Park is one of the major tourist attractions in the area.
There are two separate sections.
The coastal section is closer to town and stretches south from the river mouth. The second section runs along the
Murchison River gorge and includes some spectacular scenery.
The park something over 183,000 Ha and stretches east from the doorstep of Kalbarri town to the North West Highway.
The river has cut down through sandstone estimated at 400 million years old. As a result, the area is rich with fossils.
The gorge is around 80 kilometres long but is only accessible at a few points.
Hawk's Head, The Loop, Nature's Window and Z Bend are some of the best known features of the inland section of the park
and the recent construction of the Skywalks has seen visitor numbers to the park increase dramatically.
Two walkways were constructed out over the Murchison River with the larger of the two reaching out 25 metres.
This is about 4 metres longer than a similar structure over the Grand Canyon in the USA.
The 24 million dollar project opened in June 2020 and has begun to revitalise tourism to the Kalbarri area that had
been in decline for many years.
The Skywalk was pre-assembled by Alltype Engineering offsite to ensure everything fitted perfectly and was then
dismantled and reassembled where it sits today.
The skywalks are anchored deep into the sandstone cliffs and a lot of the excavated rock was used in the landscaped surrounds.
The coastal section of the park includes features like Mushroom Rock, Rainbow Valley, Red Bluff, Pot Alley, Natural
Bridge and Island Rock to name just a few.
Due to its convenient location and very interesting scenery, it is one of the most popular National Parks in W.A.
The area has a diverse selection of wildflowers and a large number of animal and bird species. A fauna reconstruction
site has been established in the park to re-introduce species that have been lost to the area.
Some walking trails have been established in the park and these include:
Mushroom Rock Nature trail. Rated easy. 2 hour return walk.
Coastal Trail. 8 kilometres one way. Eagle Gorge to Natural Bridge.
Around the Loop. 6 hour walk. Starting and ending at Nature's Window.
The area is rugged so it is suggested that anyone attempting the longer walks do so in a group of at least 5 people.
Anyone planning an overnight stop during a walk must notify rangers before and after the walk.
Canoeing and rafting on the Murchison River are also popular activities in the park. Again it is important to notify
rangers if you intend undertaking a trip along the river.
If you are heading north or south along highway one, there is an excellent rest-area located on the banks of the
Murchison River at Galena Bridge. Entry points to the rest-area are just north and south of the bridge on the east
side of the road.
This is approximately 10km north of the Kalbarri turn off. The rest-area has tables, barbeques, a toilet and bins.
If the south bank of the river is crowded look along the north bank, there are large campsites hidden in the bush.
Nearby is the old Geraldine Mine Site.
This is a site of great historic importance to W.A. but it is currently being completely ignored by the authorities
as there are few signs or markers of any kind evident to show where to find it.
The turn off is just south of the Galena Bridge rest area on Highway One leading west. No sign was evident showing
that this is Geraldine Road when we were there but it does appear as such on some maps. Follow this unsealed road
until you see a chimney at Warribano. There is a large parking area here and some ruins to explore.
To find the site of the old lead mines turn back the way you just came and take the second track left. After a
short distance this opens up to a large area on the left. This is the old mine site and you will see piles of rubble.
There are some open shafts here so be very careful with pets and children.
The first (rather unwilling) white inhabitants in the area were two Dutchmen (Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom) who were put
ashore after the Batavia tragedy in 1629. They were never seen again.
A memorial to this event now sits at Wittecarra Creek.
In 1839 George Grey was
shipwrecked near the mouth of the Murchison River and became an accidental overland explorer as he and his party made their
way back to Perth.
It was surprising that only one member of the party died along the way.
The town site was gazetted in 1951 and the name appears to have come from a local Aboriginal tribesman, it is also the name of an edible seed.
The Aboriginal name for the area was 'Wurd-im-arlu' although one source says the area at the river mouth was known as 'Kaiber'.
A long corrugated dirt road from the coastal highway was once the only access point to the town. It wasn't until 1997 that Kalbarri was connected to Port Gregory by sealed road.
The area's tourism potential was recognised very quickly and the Kalbarri National Park was declared in 1963.
The gorges to the north east are estimated to be 400 million years old and the beautiful setting of the town attracts people from all over the world.
Cyclone Seroja devastated many buildings in the town in 2021 and the Sewview Villas we stayed at in 2014 were completely wiped out. A lot of re-building has since taken place in Kalbarri is pretty much back to business as usual.
One particularly sad victim of the cyclone was the parrot breeding centre of Rainbow Valley.
Many of the parrots were killed or escaped during the cyclone and the centre has been closed ever since.
Whether or not this centre is resurrected remains to be seen.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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Video available from November 1st 2023
Red Bluff, Mushroom Rock, Murchison River and Gorge, Nature's Window, Z bend, The Loop, Pot Alley, Geraldine mine site, Warribano Chimney,
Hawks Head, Galena Bridge, National Park.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Geraldine ruins, Warribano chimney, Lynton Convict Depot.
State : Moore
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6536
Local Government : Shire of Northampton
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