And we were on the road again. This time the wind blew us to Kalbarri National Park – home to spectacular Kalbarri cliffs and Kalbarri gorges.
However before we got there, we stopped at Hamelin Pool – a place known for two things: Old Telegraph Station and Hamelin Pool Stromatolites.
Old Telegraph Station
Old Telegraph Station was built in 1884 to create a link between Perth and Roebourne. Interestingly Hamelin Pool was a busy place where cargo ships were arriving with wool and later it was transported inland by camel train to small vessels and later taken to Perth.
As we were in Hamelin Pool, we could see, historic buildings, gasoline dispensers and an equally old delivery vehicle. We walked around the place to soak a bit of history and understand how things change over time.
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites are considered to be the oldest and largest ‘living fossils’ on earth. They are built by cyanobacteria that live in Hamelin Pool. There would be no life on earth without cyanobacteria so I think it was a huge discovery in 1956 when surveyors found it here.
From the car park, there is a marked walk with signs and explanations about Hamelin Pool Stromatolites. Later on, the walk converts to a boardwalk that goes in the water. At the end, it creates a triangular loop from where the stromatolites can be watched from a short distance.
This short Hamelin Pool tour was very picturesque and informative. As for cyanobacteria, I must admit they made a great impression on us. It is probably the only such concentration of them in terms of importance to climatic conditions and water salinity in the world.
In addition, we could see the traces of carts that travelled there 200 years ago, transporting wool to ships. It was a historical and biological encounter worth experiencing.
Getting to Kalbarri National Park
It was only 250 km to Kalbarri National Park. We drove the straight road as if someone had drawn a line for the next several hundred kilometres. We were not surprised as we had already driven many roads like this before.
Hawks Head and Ross Graham Lookouts
It was getting late so we only stopped at Hawk Head and Ross Graham lookouts. These two lookouts are located very close to the highway, so it was a good break for us. The views from the top were stunning.
Little tired and hungry we finally reached the town of Kalbarri.
Kalbarri town is nicely situated in a bay and it is cut off from the ocean by a reef. It is a paradise for anglers. Fortunately, there are also two shops where we could buy some food (it’s not easy to get supplies).
It was also good that we arranged the camping earlier because although it wasn’t too warm, there were no vacancies – school holidays begin in a few days. The weather didn’t change much, it was still windy.
The next day it was finally the time to hit the trail and explore Kalbarri cliffs. The wind calmed down and we went to see the cliff coast.
We went to Island Rock and Red Bluff. I admit the coastline is very dramatic, the red rocks are very impressive and their height even up to 130 meters above the sea is just scary.
However, if anyone has seen Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles in Victoria, it would say “Nice, but I’ve seen prettier” and it would be right.
Nevertheless, we had a great time. We admired the views, flowers and plants that bloom everywhere.
There were more walks to go but…
Our car was dying…
The only thing that spoiled the atmosphere was the car, which was just dying and we wonder when it would finally break down.
Today it was so bad that we did not turn it off when visiting the cliffs. We left it with the running engine and locked it with a second set of keys.
People looked at us like weirdos, but at least we were sightseeing. Otherwise, we would have been grounded and the fun was over. We have a service scheduled in Perth (in about 550 km) not earlier than in a week and we hope that the car will somehow work until then.
Kalbarri National Park in Spring
And we have a full-on spring in Kalbarri National Park. Everything is blooming around, even the desert. Small, shrunken plants have come back to life and are decorated with thousands of colourful flowers. Bushes with only a few medium green leaves put up one meter long shoots, on which fancifully curled flowers proudly sway!
Everything looked beautiful and unreal, especially when we were driving along a sandy track. This is where every now and then cars were standing in the ruts, and people on their knees were taking pictures of a tiny thing (I know what I’m saying, I did it myself).
The next day, the weather improved a lot and we decided to finally go to the eastern part of Kalbarri National Park and see its major attractions.
In the middle of Kalbarri National Park, there is Murchison River that is meandering around beautifully between dramatically shaped rocks. In addition, the views were stunning. Z Bend Lookout is located on the top of the hill with a view of a bending river at the bottom of the gorge.
Nature’s Window – overlooking Kalbarri gorges
This naturally formed window in the rock just knocked us off our feet. Especially when you look through it and see only the abyss in which the river flows!
We regretted not being able to hike around the valley, but it was over 8 km and we didn’t feel like carrying Nell all the way. We left it for the next time. Speaking about Nell.
She is very happy with our campsite – she has a friend for life, Tilly. They go everywhere together, hug and kiss. I did not know what was going to happen when we had to leave and split them apart.
Fishing at Murchison River Estuary
We also went to the beach, as Marius was drawn to the rocks and he wanted to give the fish a chance to catch his hook again. This time he got frustrated again as a big tailor snapped off his hook and escaped. It was so close!
We really like spending time walking, fishing, observing what is happening around us. And a lot of things happened.
Firstly, seemingly calm rocks hid thousands of crabs. Secondly, various kinds of birds were circling around us. Thirdly, the waves crashed wildly on the reef and created a demanding obstacle course for boats going out to sea.
Marius ‘soaked the stick’ without much success and he looked at the sea with bored eyes because there was no fish activity.
At one point, a cormorant swam up to us, I can swear that it looked at Marius defiantly, and then dived. I was shocked at how efficiently they dive and how long they can swim below the water surface!
It surfaced in just a moment and it had a pretty good fish in its beak. Then, literally within maybe two minutes, he grabbed another one and swallowed it with appetite in front of us.
Then the cormorant swam to Marius again, looked at him for a while and swam away. Then, my husband said to me, ‘Don’t you have a feeling that he is laughing at me?’
I had to admit I had exactly the same impression. That was it, we didn’t catch the fish, but we could admire the crabs, which was also an interesting experience. Well, they can run fast!
Later on, I was able to track an octopus, which hid in the shallow water. If it wasn’t for the different colours of the suction cups on their tentacles, I would not have distinguished it from the stones around it.
Finally, we could admire how the lifeguards exercised in the restless waters of the bay. In order to get out, they had to speed up, break through the waves and do it across the mouth, due to the sharp edges of the reef sticking out all around.
Apparently, sailing from the bay to the ocean ends here in many cases with a disaster and the rescuers must be constantly prepared for such a situation.
We were leaving the next day, Perth was getting closer and closer.
Kalbarri National Park summary
In summary, Kalbarri is a great place to spend at least a week. Visiting spectacular Kalbarri cliffs and Kalbarri gorges is not the only thing you can do.
Kalbarri National Park offers now a great new attraction (Skywalk) that unfortunately, we did not have a chance to see. Also, you can do great cliff or estuary fishing, try camping at one of the stations or do 4WD driving.
I can recommend Kalbarri National Park as a great stop when driving from or to Perth.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Kalbarri Skywalk was opened on the 21st of June 2020. There is a cafe open during the day between 8 am and 3 pm. The Skywalk is open between 6 am and 6 pm. The tickets can be purchased at the gate of the information center.
Unfortunately when we were there the Skywalk was not available yet.
Murchison House Station – located 12 km north east from Kalbarri it offers homestead campground and bush camping. Also you can do great 4WD driving, quad biking safaris, fishing and walking. It is a really good place to stay for a few days.
Linga Longa at Lynton Station – located 80 km south from Kalbarri it offers great camping as well as cabin accommodation. Over there you can do 4WD driving to the beach or Hutt River and try fishing which is very good.
Moreover you can taste some history as many of the Lynton Station buildings are very old. And the best part is the camping fees are very affordable.
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4WD Equipment Checklist
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places