Kalbarri is well known for iconic images of stunning, colourfully banded, Tumblagooda Sandstone cliffs, set against wide blue skies and the shimmering blue of the Indian Ocean.
Many people visit for the fishing or the surf, but there are several amazing walk trails to explore as well. In spring the wildflowers are spectacular!
Choose between short walks to the various lookouts throughout the National Park, medium length hikes for those seeking a bit more of a challenge and epic multi day treks for the seriously fit and adventurous.
The climate is hot, even in winter, and any hike in this area should be undertaken with care. Plan to visit in the cooler months, tell someone where you are going, carry plenty of drinking water and protect yourself from the sun.
Mushroom Rock Nature Trail, Kalbarri NP
Time: 1-3 hrs
Distance: 1.5 km loop
Difficulty: Grade 4
Trail Start: Mushroom Rock or Rainbow Valley carparks
This trail may be short, but packs a surprising array of landscapes. Starting from the Mushroom Rock carpark, the walk takes you down a rocky path to the bottom of the banded Tumblagooda Sandstone gorge and a small beach (look out for Mushroom Rock) and up a steep climb on the other side. The next section follows the top of the cliff, with stunning views over the deep blue of the Indian Ocean, before swinging around across some fairly open country, where you are likely to see some of the local wildlife, past the track to Rainbow Valley carpark (alternate starting point) and eventually completing the loop back to the start.
Bigurda Trail, Kalbarri NP
Time: Half a day
Distance: 8km, one way
Difficulty: Grade 3
Trail Start: Either Eagle Gorge or Natural Bridge carparks
This 8km coastal trail can be walked in either direction and starting from the Natural Bridge at the southern end, the first km of trail is sealed path and boardwalk suitable for those with limited mobility.
The remainder of the trail follows a rocky path along the top of the iconic Kalbarri Tumblagooda Sandstone cliffs with amazing views over the Indian Ocean. The wind and ocean have carved the cliffs into some amazing formations and there are several lookouts located along the trail to take in the views. Between July and November you may spot migrating whales or a pod of dolphins frolicking in the waters below the cliffs
Loop Walk, Kalbarri NP
Time: Half a day
Distance: 8 km
Difficulty: Grade 4, be sure to carry extra water for this trail
Trail Start: Nature’s Window carpark
The Loop Trail is one of the longer and more challenging trails in Kalbarri NP.
While the temperature may feel mild along the coast, the inland gorges can be as much as ten degrees hotter, so make sure you go prepared with 3-4l of water per person and protection from the sun.
The best months to tackle this trail are May to October. NOTE – The trail is closed from 7 am from November to March, inclusive.
The Loop Trail takes you past the iconic Natures Window and follows the the ridge before descending down to the Murchison River below and following it to complete the loop.
Z Bend, Kalbarri NP
Time: 1-3 hrs
Distance: 2.6 km, including the lookout
Difficulty: Grade 4
Trail Start: Z Bend Lookout carpark
The Z Bend is one of the most scenic locations in the Kalbarri National Park and suitably named after the tight bends the Murchison River has carved into the Tumblagooda Sandstone gorge.
There is an easy 1.2km return trail to a lookout or take the 2.6 km (return) steep rocky path, over boulders, through narrow passages and down ladders to the river below. Admire the cliffs from a different perspective or treat yourself to a swim and cool off in the waters of the Murchison River.
Murchison River Gorge Walk, Kalbarri NP
Time: Multi day hike
Distance: 38 km
Difficulty: Grade 5
Trail Start: Ross Graham Lookout
This 38km trail, from Ross Graham Lookout to The Loop, will take you through some of the most dramatic landscape of Kalbarri National Park. With no marked trail or route this hike provides ample challenges to test experienced walkers.
Extensive pre-planning is essential, as well as experience with route-finding, general navigation and locating drinking water sources along the way. A high level of fitness is required due to the physical challenges; including rock-hopping up and down the many narrow rock ledges high above the river while carrying a heavy pack; chimneying up and through narrow rock crevices; trudging through soft sand; and regularly stripping off to float your back-pack across the river, when swimming becomes necessary, where the gorge narrows and the walls steepen.
The full walk typically takes 4 days, though can be done as shorter two-day walks, with lighter packs.
Permission is required before embarking on this challenge. The Parks and Wildlife Rangers in Kalbarri are the best source of information on safely walking in the gorge.
PHOTO CREDIT – Sheree Rossi, Chelle Fisher