Cliffs, Gorges and Wildlife
We moved on to Kalbarri and to a caravan park opposite the Murchison River, which is normally blue so we’re told, but due to heavy rains further up it is a lovely muddy brown colour. We weren’t too disappointed though as there was the promise of plenty of other beautiful vistas in the Kalbarri National Park which surrounds the town.
The caravan park is lovely and has a tropical feel with lots of grassed sites, palm trees and grass thatched roof huts over tables and benches between sites. The beauty of travelling off season is that we were given a choice of any site we liked, “go for a wander and let us know where you set up”. Because there are so few travellers in the park we were in fact given 3 sites, one for the van, one for us to use to spread out comfortably and one for the car to be parked! Amazing, great hospitality.
On our first day out to the National Park we were planning to visit the biggies…Natures Window and Z bend lookout which are the main draw cards for this National Park. BUT…as fate would have it the road to both these areas was closed, no travellers allowed out there due to road repairs and closed until July 2017. What the! We were allowed to go to the other viewing areas in the park though, Hawks Head Lookout and the Ross Graham Lookout where you could also view the escarpment and very fast flowing muddy Murchison River. We did spot a group of emus down by the water’s edge.
To clarify, we COULD go to see Natures Window if we wanted to pay and go with a tour operator, the only ones with permission to go there at the moment. I wasn’t too keen on this option as we’d have to pay someone to take us there (even though we have paid for an annual parks pass) and stay for hours. After much deliberation I decided that as much as I had been anticipating seeing it, it could wait until another time to come back and see, hopefully with a blue river as well. Damn.
The weather has been extremely hot, high 30s and low 40s and very humid with it, so trekking through rocky gorges and escarpments hasn’t really been high on the list of things to do anyway and the flies are atrocious, getting way too friendly! We have been spotting some wildlife though, Roos and little lizards everywhere.
Another part of the National Park to the south of town takes in coastal cliffs so that sounded like an attractive choice in the heat. As we drove in we spotted a pair of Euros, doe and joey relaxing under a bush near the roadside, not silly keeping cool in the heat.
We started at Natural Bridge – stunning cliff face and wild Indian Ocean beating against the jagged rocks. You really get a sense of the heaving powerful ocean here. Right near it, just follow the boardwalk, is the Castle Rock lookout.
Next stop Island Rock, so named because it has separated from the cliff face. Here just for a short time we saw a seal frolicking way down in the water too. After that we went to a number of other lookouts Shellhouse Grandstand, Eagle Gorge and Pot Alley (named by local fisherman as it’s a hazardous cove where many cray pots have been lost. Of course).
Red Bluff lookout was an outstanding spot, a really well laid out pathway takes you to a couple of different viewing areas and gives you a view over the beach below and the big blue sea.
But the best bit, while we were out exploring the coastal cliffs I found my own secret Natures Window! Ok not as spectacular as the real thing but it will do as second best, and it had a view to the Indian Ocean.
One of the best little secrets around though is Blue Holes Beach. This was a very welcome stop and a great place to spend a couple of hours. The first thing you notice is huge waves out the back but they break on the reef as they get closer to shore and then the water disperses into clear pools that are teeming with fish.
Some of the pools are deep enough to swim and snorkel in around the reef outcrops or you can just sit and relax in a cool spa with waves washing in and out.
There are so many fish there because it’s a fish habitat protection area but just a little further up the beach you can try your luck fishing. We saw a few different species swimming around including whiting and even a small octopus.
And if that’s not enough, on the beach there are dozens of Golden Ghost Crabs scurrying about and diving in and out of their holes. Harry (Attenborough) set up a GoPro camera in front of one of the holes and caught one of these busy little guys going about his chores for the day. Follow the link to see. https://youtu.be/3o757uo_HuU
While we were there we also saw an osprey swoop down and catch a fish in its claws then fly off with it, no rules for them – plentiful fish for the taking.
Another fun and free thing to do in Kalbarri is to go to the daily pelican feeding on the foreshore. This started out back in the 70s when a local fisherman used to throw some of his catch to the pelicans when he got home, now volunteers have taken it on. The pelicans definitely don’t rely on these sessions for a feed though as there is plenty for them to eat in the river but a small amount of fish is handed out while the volunteers share a bit of information about the pelicans and Kalbarri in general with some golden comedy banter thrown in.
Brian and Jonesy were the volunteers when we were there and they were very entertaining. It was great to see that pretty much anyone that was interested in throwing a fish to the birds (and even those with an aversion) were given the opportunity to. A great way to spend half an hour and get some more good tips from the locals on where to fish and what to see in Kalbarri.
And finally with such rugged cliffs about we thought we’d finish by seeing them in another light and chase sunset photos………awww.