If you’re on a big lap of Australia or after a new holiday destination, don’t just pass through Kalbarri, chalk in at least four or more days to experience the gorges, waterholes, beaches, lookouts, and brewery.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Nanda Nation, the traditional land of the Nanda people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
Haven’t heard of it? That’s ok, neither had we.
Kalbarri is a six hour drive north of Perth and about the same south from Coral Bay (Exmouth region), so it’s the perfect mini-getaway on the popular West Coast route.
Heading out on a road trip? WA’s Coral Coast
The beaches right in town and the surrounding landscape are breathtaking, especially as the sun goes down and lights up the red and orange cliffs.
The town is still recovering from a cyclone that damaged almost three-quarters of the buildings back in April and many residents lost their homes and businesses. When we came through four weeks later, the caravan parks had only just reopened and the pub was still running on a generator. Locals told us it will take years to recover.
So it’s also a great time to help by spending your hard-earned dollarydoos here.
What’s there to do in Kalbarri?
Short answer, a lot, but here’s what we’d pack into a long weekend or extended stopover.
Hike Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park, famous for the Z Bend hike and Nature’s Window, is only a 25 minute drive east out of town (there’s only one road) and is accessible by 2WD vehicles. What you’ll find here’s a stunning red and orange landscape cut down the middle by a deep gorge that meanders through the park.
The Nanda creation story describes the gorges and landscape being created by Beemarra the water snake, who left patches of freshwater behind on her journey.
Z Bend River Trail
While there are a bunch of different hikes here, the Z Bend River Trail takes you right into the gorge where you can explore a little further in each direction. We enjoyed our first hike so much we came back the next day better equipped (mostly with food) to spend the day exploring the various swimming spots and rock features.
The hike is rated as a grade 4 and the car park to the bottom of the gorge is only about 1.3 kilometres each way. While it only takes 15 minutes to get down to the gorge, give yourself plenty of extra time for exploring, swimming, and picnicking.
If you get here before 9am and wander a little further up the gorge, you’ll probably have the place to yourself for a good few hours. In the summer months it can easily hit over 40 degrees, so make sure you have lots of water and sun protection.
Nature’s Window and the Skywalk
While Nature’s Window is a magnificent natural feature, it does get busy during the day. Realistically, it’s the kind of spot where you wait in line to get ‘that’ photo for your ‘gram. But if you get there at sunrise you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
The Skywalk, right next door, is cantilevered off the cliffs and is an absolute engineering marvel. Like the window, it’s also pretty busy throughout the day but worth a quick look.
Beach Swims & Rockholes
The town itself is right on a beautiful beach where the Murchison River meets the sea. You can swim in the calm waters here or a few minutes drive out of town are some great other options.
These cool little holes are the perfect place to chill out and refresh after a day of hiking. Or bring your snorkelling gear and you’ll see a lot of different sea life as the surrounding waters are a protected marine park.
The pools, best at low tide, are less than two kilometres south of town, so walking up along Back Beach is also a nice choice.
The sucky water here makes it a precarious swimming spot, so enter the water with care. It’s certainly one of the most unique beaches we’ve come across on our big lap so far!
As the name suggests, the beach is an alley cut into the red rocks, with the short walk from the car park down to the beach an absolute beauty. The car park also doubles as a lookout and is an awesome spot to stop for a car-side meal or to watch the sunset.
Watch The Sunset at Red Bluff
Red Bluff is the most well-known lookout in Kalbarri and is about a five minute drive south of town. As you probably guessed, it’s a large piece of red sandstone jutting out dramatically above the water.
Head a few hundred metres to the top for a spectacular sunset over the ocean, which illuminates the sandstone cliffs that run back south from the bluff.
Is there surf in Kalbarri?
Of course! Kalbarri has it all. You can get a nice little wave off the point at Red Bluff beach. Just beware of submerged rocks.
You’ll also get a really nice little left at Jaques Point, which the locals refer to as just ‘Jakes’.
Sip a Local Brew With The Catch of The Day
After all the action, head down to Finlay’s Brewery for a pint of the best local brew – you deserve it! At this rustic brewery, tucked around the back of town, you’ll also get a great piece of local fish – so ask for the catch of the day.
As we found out, the Sunday session here is great and also features live music.
Where should I stay in Kalbarri?
While there’s no camping in the national park itself, about half an hour out of town is a nice beach camp spot called Lucky Bay (not to be confused with the famous beach at Esperance). This is 4WD only.
There are plenty of good accommodation options in town. We stayed at the Murchison River Caravan Park, right in town, a short walk to all the cafes, shops, and beaches.
There’s Red Bluff Tourist Park right on the beach as well as another two caravan parks around town.
There’s also the well-known Murchison House Station farm stay just out of town, where you can camp at the homestead or ‘bush camp’, if that’s what you’re looking for.
- A car – ideally a 4WD so you can get to all the spots!
- Camp gear
- Hiking shoes
How To Get There
Kalbarri is just over a six hour drive north of Perth.