Kalbarri is a small coastal town 6 hours north of Perth that seemingly has it all. There are hidden beaches, famed fishing spots, and laid-back local watering holes where even the dog is welcome. To the town's east, the Kalbarri National Park harbours hikeable 400-million-year-old gorges, and to the west, the coastal cliffs drop into the ocean in a most dramatic fashion.
Want to explore? Start with the best of it, as listed below.
1. Walk the gorges
Head to the Kalbarri National Park and follow the 9km Loop Walk to descend to the depths of the Murchison River Gorge. The trail meanders along a cliff top and onto the river bed before returning you to the point you started. Slightly easier — but no less beautiful — are the walks out to Nature’s Window and the Z Bend, though you’ll still need a certain level of fitness and stability to tackle the boulder scrambles and uneven ground. If you just came for the view, head out over the Murchison Gorge on the all-abilities Kalbarri Skywalk (you can also do a stargazing tour there with D’Guy Charters).
2. Go wildflower hunting
Come June, native blooms start popping up all over the plains and dunes in and around Kalbarri town. It’s the start of the region’s famed wildflower season, which sees over 1,100 different species of flower carpeting the landscapes right through to early summer. 21 species are endemic to Kalbarri, including the yellow or red Kalbarri catspaw. It’s a small plant, usually seen between August and September, growing on the stark land that wildfires have recently swept through. The best place to go wildflower hunting is Kalbarri National Park. Here, you’ll find the likes of flannel brush, wattle, round leaf grevillea, and pink poker.
3. Whale watch
From June through November, an estimated 35,000 humpback whales travel up and down the Kalbarri coastline on their annual migration between Antarctica and the warm waters of the Kimberley Coast. Watch them breaching and tail-slapping just offshore from a perch at the Red Bluff Lookout. Bringing binoculars will afford you a better view, especially if you’re there early in the season when the whales pass by a little further out to sea.
4. Off-road on quad bikes
Explore the lesser-seen parts of the Kalbarri region aboard one of Kalbarri Wagoe Beach Quad Bike Tours’ bright red bikes. You’ll be in the driver’s seat as owners Ashley and Lisa guide you along the coastline and through the dunes near their Wagoe Beach Farm, some 20km south of Kalbarri. The beach is a well-known reef fishing spot, but the dunes are far less explored, many untouched save for the gentle ripples the sea breeze leaves as it blows through.
If you’d prefer to leave the driving up to someone else, jump on a quad bike as a passenger or book a seat on the beach buggy tour instead.
5. Visit Hutt Lagoon
Water that would measure up against ‘magenta pink’ on a Pantone® colour chart is worth
driving 55km south of Kalbarri to see, especially as Hutt Lagoon is the only place in WA where you can see a naturally pink lake without hopping in a plane. Drive up to the lookout on Port Gregory Road for the best view of the sprawling wonder before jumping into a buggy with Tim and Sam Hay to explore further. Port Gregory residents for the past ten years, the couple run Pink Lake Tours and drive visitors along its shores and through the beachside town they call home.
6. Take to the skies
Much of the rugged land around Kalbarri is inaccessible by road, so boarding Kalbarri Scenic Flights’ Cessna 207 is your best shot at seeing it. Soar over the red coastal cliffs and Murchison River Gorges, or get pilot Nathan to take you due south to see the patchwork of pinks at Hutt Lagoon from the air. A slightly longer day trip will get you to East Wallabi Island on the Abrolhos Archipelago, where you can snorkel, lizard spot, and bask in the sunshine. If you can’t decide on where to go, see it all on a ‘grand tour’.
7. Gorge on fresh seafood
It would be remiss of you to go the whole time in Kalbarri without trying some of its most prized export — seafood. You'll find Finlay's a couple of blocks away from the beach. It’s a Kalbarri institution, much loved for its laid-back dining approach and on-site microbrewery. Take a seat outside around one of the recycled picnic tables and tuck into balsamic glazed Abrolhos Island octopus or Shark Bay cockles, washed down with a cold pint of Finlay’s lager, of course.
8. Explore reefs and rockpools
Causing the water to appear different shades of blue from the shore, the partially submerged limestone reef just south of Kalbarri town gives Blue Holes Beach its name. Beneath the surface is a natural aquarium teeming with more than 70 species of finfish and 11 species of coral. Bring a snorkel and float gently through the rockpools, keeping an eye out for moon wrasse and humbugs, or find a patch of sand to read a book with a view. Being so protected, it’s a great spot to bring the little ones.
9. Catch a feast
Head for deep waters with lines baited and luck on your side, and you might just wind up bringing a seafood dinner home. Join Kalbarri Rock Lobster Tours on an 8-hour charter fishing tour where snapper, dhufish, groper, and mackerel are all fair game. The team will provide you with everything you need to hook a big one; just bring yourself, some food, and beer (if you wish). If crustaceans are more to your taste, go on a crayfish ‘catch and keep’ tour with Reefwalker Ocean Discovery Tours. You’ll have the chance to pull, bait, and set 12 pots, keeping your catch when you leave.
10. Cruise the Murchison River
Gently putt your way upstream aboard the Murchison River Princess as skipper, Grant Ward, provides entertaining and informative commentary on the local flora and fauna. He’ll be pointing out the Ospreys and local White Breasted Sea Eagles along the way and any emus he sees, too. Sit back, relax (beverage from the onboard bar optional), and enjoy the unique Kalbarri scenery. Kalbarri Wilderness Cruises is the only tour company to operate on the river, running twice-daily daylight cruises and a special 5.00pm sunset cruise.