Sandstone canyon with a photogenic hole
Lets write a bit about Kalbarri National Park, where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean. 577 km from Perth, the perfect stop over on the way further north. For us it was an excellent place to discover and to break up the long drive to shark bay. We stayed two nights and thus could spend a whole day in the area:
What to do?
Compulsory start of the day is the daily pelican feeding in town. The pelican originally got attracted to the bay by the by catch that fisherman tossed from their boats, now it´s a tradition and heaps of tourists plus pelicans assemble for the daily routine. How big those birds are …
Then it´s time to head into the national park, yet worth stopping over at Meanarra Hill, an ancient coral reef with a 360deg view of the area and perfectly suited for Titanic posing…
The National park offers a couple of jaw dropping views into the Murchison river canyon, carved through red/white banded sandstone over the last 400 million years. If it´s not too hot and you don´t drag three kids with you, you can even go on a hike along the river. Must be awesome!
When you are done digesting these impressive views and the contrasts in colour and material you take the 500 m stroll down to Nature´s Window, yes that stroll even works with a protesting 4-year old. And it´s worth it! As long as you can stand the flies, that is ..
Tataa, Kalberri´s photogenic hole:
and yes, there is still more to come, it´s really worth to head down the sand track to the other lookout, the Z-Bend. As rivers tend to do, the gorge cuts along major fault zones, that happen to be aligned almost at a right angle in this case. Thus, the gorge makes some awesome, sharp corners a number of times. At Z-Bend you stand on one of these corners and can enjoy gorge and gorge whether you look East or South. Nice!
Where to stay?
There are plenty of options directly in Kalbarri, we found a quite nice, more secluded camp site, directly on the river. Murchison House Station
is a working pastoral station and offers basic camping both close to the station as well as on the other side of the river for 4WD only. If you want to do the latter, make sure to arrive early in the afternoon as they don´t allow you to cross the river when you arrive to late. Yes, that is based on personal experience.
The Colours, the contrasts, the wildlife, the 4-wheeling ..
I dislike superlatives and yet it´s just so hard not to use them when you describe Australian National Parks. The northern tip of the Shark Bay peninsula, F. Peron Nat. Park, is one of those spots that can´t be described without the words spectacular, one of the most beautiful spots you can find, 4WD paradise, and so on.
You get there (from Perth) by burning just 130 litre diesel or so and you find yourself at Shark Bay, a World Heritage area. If you´re in a 2WD (and possibly only burned 50 litre gas) you go to Monkey Mia and get to pet dolphins there. I´m sure that´s an awesome expereience. If you´r in a 4WD, you air down to 15-20 PSI and head north into red sand paradise. Then you find yourself in the National Park, head north through the bush and the clay pans and arrive at one of the four or so superb bush camp sites. There may be two to three other vehicles there, enjoying the beach, the fishing the chilling. The first spot is partially rocky (that´s what you see on the photos) and the northernmost is practically on the beach.
You´ll do a day trip to the northern tip of the peninsula (Cape Peron) and you indulge in the potpourri of turquoise water, white sand, dark-red rocks and red sandstones. And if you´re lucky a 1.5 meter eagle ray glides along the beach just decimetres next to you. It´s one hell of a spot, really! Not only the geology is exciting, two major ocean currents meet there and you can actually see that! And it attracts an impressive array of marine life, they say.
We just spent two nights up there but you could easily hang out there for a week I figure. In just one day at the cape we saw the mentioned ray, a tiger shark, a bottle nose dolphin family and a zillion of crabs. Hard to imagine that one could get bored in the middle of that.
It´s been more than two weeks now since we came back from our trip north to Shark Bay, and it is hard to put in words what a fantastic trip it was. All the photos, all the experiences, all the adventures are having a hard time to land on this blog. We are starting to fear that we are actually starting to forget certain aspects. And hey, that was the whole point of this WordPress thingy, saving & sharing memories. This shall be a focus over the coming days and weeks, sharing, sharing and sharing. Promise!
Curious where we were in detail? That´s actualy all mapped out here, so feel free to dive in there while we are collecting our memories, yes?
So we are on the BIG trip. No idea when this will go online, when we will upload photos. Being online is very rare, reception is spotty and that is a good 😊 thing. The last two days we spent in Francois Perón National Park. Away “from it all”. Landscape that is hard to describe, words just can’t express the beauty and uniqueness. And off-road tracks that are what I have been dreaming about for years.
A 2.5 m tiger shark, 3 bottle nose dolphins 🐬 including a baby, an eagle ray just a meter from our feet, a zillion crabs 🦀, 4 Emus going for a swim next to us, a lizard on the track and all sorts of “footprints” on the sand
That’s just a recollection of what we experienced today. And all that just around Cape Peron, just by strolling along the beach and meeting some researchers at Cape Inscription that pointed the tiger shark out for us. They had been waiting for two days for that spotting! They were flying a drone to observe the shark. Aim of the research is to have drones patrol public beaches for semi-automatic shark management. Awesome 👏🏼!
On the way north from Perth we stayed two nights close to Kalbarri and also there it was fantastic. Fantastic landscape carved into sandstone by the Murchison River. It’s a big attraction, especially for flies, must have been some millions of them there. The boys didn’t like that very much…
How is the camping ⛺️ you ask? Wait for the photos 😁 In Kalbarri we stayed at an actual camp site, Murchison Station, quite agreeable with spots along the river on the lands of the working station. Here in Peron we set up camp just behind the beach, deep into 4WD-only land in a so called camping area featuring a biological (?) toilet and that’s it. Very nice 👍🏼 Not absolutely straight forward to bring water and food and everything for a family of five but we manage. Right now we have set up the tent right on the beach just south of Denham. Fabulous!
One strong impression this trip makes is a sense of scale. A sense of the shear vastness of this beautiful continent. It doesn’t take much to be a day trip away from water/food/communications/you name it.