I don’t think I enjoyed Kalbarri, WA as much as I should have.
We didn’t know too many things to do in Kalbarri and we visited at a time when I was tired and jaded. We’d not long explored the magnificent Karijini National Park and it’s hard to experience wows that can compare to such pristine beauty.
There was the problem of tired and wingy children, really hot weather, crazy wind, and insane flies.
I had no coping mechanisms left.
So when we hopped out of the car at the inner gorge section of Kalbarri National Park to do the 1.4km return walk to Z-Bend lookout over the gorge below, they started on me and I slowly began to fall apart.
We love to share the truth about travel – it’s not always easy, especially when you travel full time AND with kids. Sometimes things go wrong and you don’t have a good time.
Often it is because you are unprepared, or you are just bone tired.
Then other things happen, like heat and insane flies.
After 12 years experience of traveling with kids, I can tell you the thing that will cause the biggest meltdowns is heat. We have a post with tips on traveling in the heat with kids to help you.
I’m updating this post now, 4 years after visiting. I wanted to include more information to help adequately prepare you for your trip to Kalbarri National Park. This area on the Coral Coast is spectacular. It’s also offers a quiet, restful vacation and someting so quirky with the Hutt River Principality.
Once we get beyond the complete breakdown we had in the inner section of Kalbarri National Park, we’ll share the solid information to help you have a great time! We know you will and odds are you hadn’t been traveling for 12 months previous with two young children.
Now back to our experience of the inner gorge section of Kalbarri National Park.
Inner gorge Kalbarri National Park, WA (Nature’s Window)
It was a constant harassing of HUNDREDS of flies covering my legs, climbing up my nose, crawling behind my sunglasses around my eyes and trying to get into my mouth.
I don’t even think a cork hat would have been any good at shooing them away.
The intensity of the heat hit as soon as we started walking as well.
It wasn’t that hot in Kalbarri town, so we kind of dismissed the lady in the visitor centre who warned us about the heat in the national park. Plus, we’d just come from Karijini, which was killer heat.
It wasn’t that bad, but when you combine the heat with fending off the relentless flies and trying to do the same with your kids and manage their ensuing meltdowns, I turned to Craig and said,
“Quick take your photos, and let’s go. I don’t care how pretty it is. We’ve seen Karijini and it couldn’t be better.”
We drove to a few other lookout points that were close to the car park. We kept the kids in the car and tag teamed, each running the short 400m track to the lookout to beat the flies. A quick look at the view and a sprint back to the car.
Until the last one. It was Nature’s Window, the most famous and photographed spot in Kalbarri National Park.
It was a paved path so we popped the girls on their scooters and sent them on the way.
“Arrrrgggh. Get them off me. Muuuuummmm the flies are all over me. Get me outta here. Get them off me.” Kalyra’s meltdown arrived with the amplification of the fly invasion at this scenic place. I was slipping into meltdown mode as well.
“Just keep riding, and you’ll shake them off.”
She was in no state to listen to my advice and started wailing and screaming even louder. We made it to the view and stopped to look at it.
The little black stealth bombers found their chance. My legs and face were covered in small black crawling dots. Just looking at Craig’s day pack covered in the flies made me want to throw up.
The heat was made all the more unbearable because of them and I could not cope with the kids anymore.
“Right. Take your photos Craig. I’m taking the girls back to the car NOW.”
I popped Savannah on her scooter, held her back and ran with her up the hill. “Quick Kalyra scoot for your life. Don’t stop just keep going.”
We bolted back to the car in record time and dived in, slamming the doors behind us. “That was hideous.”
Disappointment and slight shame set in. We were standing in front of a stunning vista and I didn’t care one bit.
I knew then that it was time for me to stop sightseeing so much and slip more into rest mode and slow travel.
It happens after you’ve been travelling for a long time. Things start to blend into one another; you’ve seen some of the best so the rest gets glazed over. When really you should be taking the time to absorb the unique beauty each place has without comparison.
When you get to that stage you need to reassess and make some changes.
Helpful Information on Kalbarri National Park
So now the story of the fly attack is out the way, let’s dive into why you should visit Kalbarri National Park. I’ts know to be one of the most spectacular national parks in Western Australia, AND just as good as Karijini.
The park is located on the lower reaches of the Murchison River.
For 400 million years the flow of the Murchison River has carved gorgeous deep red and white striped gorges that stretch 80km towards the Indian Ocean.
These inner gorges are yours to explore.
Things to do in Kalbarri National Park Inner Gorges
Nature’s Window is one of Western Australia’s most iconic natural attractions. You can walk here from The Loop car park (500m) or you can take in the surrounding beauty on the 8km Loop hiking trail.
Now that the kids are older, and can hike 15 miles no problem, we would love to return and do this hike WITH fly nets! OR in the cooler winter months.
Check out this nature’s window in Arches National Park, Utah.
Z Bend River Trail
The Z Bend River Trail is a 2.6km return hike that descends steeply down into the gorge. Be prepared for a few ladder climbs. This sounds similar to a walk we did in the Natural Bridges National Monument which our kids loved!
It’s on our list of things to do in Kalbarri WA for when we return.
Ross Graham Lookout
The Ross Graham Lookout is where you’ll find views over the gorges. You can walk from the car park down to the river’s edge for a swim and a cool down.
Late July is when you’ll see spectacular wildflowers in bloom.
In 2020, the Kalbarri Skywalk project will open which will give stunning views into the gorge and river from above.
The temperatures in Kalbarri National Park are no joke. It’s best not to do any strenuous hiking during the summer months when temperatures in the gorge can soar to 50 degrees Celsius. We visited in late Oct and it was already stinking hot!
We highly recommend you take fly nets into Kalbarri National Park. We discovered a few months later when we experienced even worse flies at Uluru that they make all the difference.
See more of our favorite national parks in Australia.
Kalbarri National Park – Coastal Cliffs
I love national parks that have diversity. Kalbarri National Park offers the inner gorges but also a coastal section. (Similar to Olympic National Park in Washington State.)
It wasn’t as hot being on the coast and having that cool breeze meant the flies weren’t as bad. AS bad. They were still gross, but the wind kept them away.
The coastline was stunning.
Kalbarri’s Coastal Cliffs extend 13km South into the boundaries of the national park. Here, you’ll find sheer coastalk cliffs 100 metres above the roaring ocean waves.
Keep a lookout for migrating whales between the months of June and November.
We experienced most of the 8km coastal walk in sections, driving from point to point and then walking to the various lookout points along the way.
Natural Bridge and Island Rock, Kalbarri
Island Rock broke off from the shoreline some time ago and now is its only lone sea stack. Many say it reminds them of the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.
Natural Bridge offers stunning views and is a good place to spot whales, dolphins and other marine life. The 1.2km return Bigurda Bordwalk connects Natural Bridge and Island Rock.
Eagle Gorge Lookout
Eagle Gorge lookout is another place for views and to see some of the wedge-tailed eagles that next in the gorge. There is a steep rocky path down to a secluded beach.
Pot Alley also has a short track down to a beach and views of the expansive rugged gorges.
Mushroom Rock Nature Trail
This 3.3km loop trail takes you back 400 million years to Gondwanaland through coastal health, rocky outcrops with ocean views and past strange rock formations.
It connects Rainbow Valley and Mushroom Rock and apart from the gorgeous scenery you may see kangaroos bouncing around.
Red Bluff Beach is popular for swimming and fishing and spectacular sunsets. Another hiking track you may want to take is from Pederick Lookout to Red Bluff Beach.
Principality of Hutt River – hanging with The Royals
We broke up our Kalbarri visiting Hutt River Principality.
Hutt River was one of my favorite things to do in Kalbarri and had me fist pumping Prince Leonard.
Kalrya kept asking me why I was giggling as we walked into Hutt River Post Office and through the “town”
I found it very difficult to explain to her that Prince Leonard completely screwed over the government and created his own country.
Now isn’t this an interesting thing to know about Australia – that no one is telling us!
He and the residents of Hutt River (i.e. his family members) all have, and travel on, Hutt River passports. His son greeted us when we arrived and said,
“The Prince will be with you shortly, he is just having his lunch.”
I fought back the giggles and went to read the plaques behind the statue of the Prince when you first arrive to see what this was all about.
Prince Leonard is an intelligent man and when the government tried to take some of his wheat farming land off him, he found some loopholes in the law and discovered that Western Australia had not been formed properly as part of Australia.
Therefore, his land was not actually Australian land but part of Britain. It’s still a little confusing for me, but he managed to stake the land as his own country – Hutt River Principality.
He became a pain in the government’s ass and they tried all they could to shut him down, but he was victorious. So he pays no Australian taxes and does not have to follow Australian law. It is hilarious. I never even knew this place existed.
Prince Leonard is also very witty and belies his age of 82. He showed us around his trophy room sharing all the memorabilia he has collected from Heads of State and Royalty from around the world.
It was fascinating talking to him and hearing his story and one-line jokes.
As you leave you can visit the Post Office to get your passport stamp. Of course, they have their own currency.
Hilarious. Wish we could all screw the government like that and not pay any taxes!! They take so much from us Down Under. Prince Leonard is my hero.
Kalbarri is definitely worth a visit.
The town itself is quiet, but beautiful.
It sits on the edge of the snaking Murchison River being a backdrop through to the mountains behind. It’s the first part of green you see after coming out of the top end, so your eyes will feast in the prettiness.
Kalbarri Beaches not to miss
If you’re a surfer, you’ll love Jacques Point, a famous surf break and the sunsets are magical to come and see from Chinaman’s beach.
We did it slowly and broke it up with a lunch stop in Gorges Cafe, which had the best coffee we’d had since Broome and is the best cafe in Kalbarri hands down!
You don’t get good coffee in Karijini! It helped us make the day more relaxing.
There are so many amazing things to do in Kalbarri, WA. It’s worth a stop on your Coral Coast adventures or your WA road trip.
Kalbarri is about 6 hours north of Perth. Click here for car rental prices and availability of you need it.
Where to stay in Kalbarri, WA
Kalbarri Edge Resort
a solar-heated pool and barbecue facilities set in tropical gardens, Kalbarri Edge Resort is just 5 minutes’ walk from the Murchison River. Previous guests love it for its awesome pool facilities, large suites and location.
Kalbarri Palm Resort
Kalbarri Palm Resort features 2 pools, a hot tub and a tennis court all set on extensive gardens and located at the point where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean. 10 minutes walk to the beach and rooms have kitchenettes. Previous guests loved the friendly staff, spacious suites and location. Good value for money.
Kalbarri Beach Resort
Offering self-contained apartments with a kitchen, a balcony Kalbarri Beach Resort is just 650 feet from the Murchison River. It has an outdoor pool area and 3 hot tubs. Previous guests love the clean, modern rooms, swimming pools and location.
From luxury spa studios with Indian Ocean Views to River Retreats in peaceful surroundings, there are plenty of Airbnb Kalbarri rentals. Click here to see what is available for your Kalbarri holiday.
Popular Kalbarri Tours
More WA Travel Tips
Have you visited Kalbarri in Western Australia? Can you share any tips?