Whether you are migrating north for the dry season or just looking for a warm holiday in the middle of winter, Kalbarri is a winner. This small beach town on the west coast offers stable hot weather year-round and boasts a wide variety of activities to fill your days. Dramatic coastline or chilled beaches, watersports or adventurous hikes, wildflowers or wildlife, Kalbarri will keep you entertained and have you falling in love with Australia again and again.
Kalbarri is 570km from Perth and worth the six hour drive. If you are heading north, I’d suggest taking the coastal route from Northampton that will take you to Horrocks and Port Gregory. Horrocks was voted the number one mainland beach by Tourism Australia in 2018, and with pristine beaches and stunning reef just off the shore, you can see why. Port Gregory also offers protected reef, and thatched shelters line the beach for anyone to use. Kalbarri and its national park are all 2WD accessible.
Top things to do
1. Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake)
Just inland from Port Gregory you’ll find the iconic pink lakes, and trust me, you can’t miss them. Their unnatural-looking beauty shines out like a beacon as you pass through dry country. The hues of pink in the lake depend on the time of day you visit, the amount of recent rainfall and the blooms of dunaliella salina algae.
2. Coastal cliffs
The coastal cliffs of Kalbarri are a dramatic change from the beaches you would have seen travelling from north or south. The land gives way to 100m walls of rustic layered rock that are thrashed by wild wind and big waves. The lookouts are easily accessible and our favourites included Island Rock and the Grandstand.
3. Sunset at Red Bluff
At the bottom of the red cavernous cliffs you’ll pull up on to a rocky plateau with views looking north to west. It’s a good place to watch to colours of Kalbarri change and illuminate with the setting sun.
4. Surf Jacques “Jakes” Point
A world renowned surf spot, this break isn’t for amateurs. On the right swell a perfect left-hander rips through the point. Whether or not you are getting in, it’s definitely worth a look.
5. Snorkelling at Blue Holes
Now a marine sanctuary (yes, that means absolutely no fishing), this place is buzzing with life. The reef offers shelter from the waves and strong currents and you don’t have to go far to say hello to your fishy friends. Octopus, parrot fish, angel and clown fish, small eagle rays and big crayfish are just a few of the guys you might want to introduce yourself to.
6. A BBQ at Chinaman’s Beach
A popular family spot, this beach is calm and protected on the inside of the Murchison River Mouth. BBQ facilities, picnic tables, toilets and cold showers are all in close proximity. Also nearby you can hire boats, kayaks and stand up paddle boards to really make the most of a day on the water.
7. Nature’s Window
This one is a tourist hotspot but you can usually avoid the crowds at sunrise or sunset. Luckily, either of those times make for the best viewing. Nature’s Window perfectly frames one section of Kalbarri’s stunning gorge. In wetter times you’ll see a glistening snake of water winding through the valley and once again, those rustic layers of rock.
8. Z-Bend Hike and River Walk
For arguably the best view of Kalbarri National Park head to Z-Bend Lookout, just 600m from the carpark. Arrive at either sunrise or sunset, but bear in mind if you’re going to do the river walk you’ll need to be there early. Temperatures in the gorge are often higher than at the lookout and can often reach 50°C. Carry plenty of water, wear sun safe clothing and sturdy shoes.
The climb down to the river is short but steep. The track takes you between narrow boulders, over unstable rocky territory and up and down a few ladders. A nice pool of water welcomes you at the bottom, but if you’re after a swim I’d suggest walking down the gorge to your left a few hundred metres. The pools become larger and a lot less stagnant.
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Where to stay
Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park is located a few hundred metres back from the Murchison River and offers good protection from the wind. The park includes a pool, a kid’s playground and free wifi. All camping spots have some shade and I’d recommend asking for a spot toward the back of the park away from the road.
Murchison Caravan Park is waterfront on the Murchison River and has similar facilities at a similar price. Unfortunately there is no free camping in Kalbarri itself, but if you don’t mind the drive there is Glena Bridge North rest area back out on the highway where you can stay one night.
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