Anyone who has been to Kalbarri seems to rave about it. Yet, despite us living in Perth many years ago, neither of us had made the 570 kms trek north to check out what all the fuss was about.
That situation was about to be rectified.
We were heading to the Kalbarri region for a few days to explore the town and foreshore, the nearby national park, dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean and inland gorges, a genuine Pink Lake, and hopefully start seeing wildflowers in abundance.
The idyllically located township of Kalbarri is nestled alongside the mouth of WA’s Murchison River. We loved walking along its foreshore, with the delightfully clear blue water and clean white sands.
The walking trails and lookouts to the south of Kalbarri provided wonderful vantage points to explore the rugged coastal cliffs, and even do a spot of whale watching.
Kalbarri National Park
No trip to Kalbarri is complete without a visit to the nearby Kalbarri National Park, where the rugged rock formations and river gorges differ so dramatically from the majestic coastal cliffs – and all are a feast for the senses.
And luckily for us, the wildflowers were starting to bloom. 😊🌼🌺
On the clifftop in the centre of the picture below you can see there are two dark spots which are the platforms for the new Kalbarri Skywalk (yet to be completed and opened to the public). These mesh walkways extend out over the edge of the cliff, and will provide uninterrupted views of the Murchison river and gorge. We will have to come back to try it.
Hutt Lagoon (aka Pink Lake)
The pink Hutt Lagoon is a short half-hour drive south of Kalbarri, near the sleepy fishing hamlet of Port Gregory. The lake’s pink hue is caused by the ‘dunaliella salina’ algae, which is a source of beta carotene, a food colouring agent and source of vitamin A. Hutt Lagoon is also the site of the world’s largest production plant to farm this algae.
Our next impromptu stop was in the delightful village of Northampton, en route south to the main regional centre of Geraldton.
We make it a point to at least try to stop in and look around small country villages – if not, stay over and spend some money to help support local communities.
And wow, Northampton was a surprise package – a real feast for the senses!
This little village of less than 1,000 people was truly beautiful, with many well maintained historic buildings.
Best of all, it was beautifully presented, with many gardens and parks that appeared well kept. It actually looked like the community took real pride in their town.
We arrived in Northampton early on a Sunday morning – in retrospect, not the best day to lob into town, as just about everything was closed.
But all was not lost, as we were thrilled to meet a delightfully sprightly woman who marched straight up to us to ask us whether we were visitors to the town. She then proceeded to delve into her shoulder bag and dug out a couple of leaflets about the town and pointed out some highlights. As caretaker of the town’s museum (and the town agitator against the local fracking threat!), she also took it on herself to walk the town offering information to visitors about the town’s delights on a Sunday morning when the visitors information centre was closed. A keen advocate for her town, we later spotted her pulling out the odd weed at the park, before continuing her walk looking for lost tourists and heading off to open the museum. Don’t you just love small country towns?
One of the leaflets described Northampton’s ‘Ewe Turn’ community arts project, and provided details of a guided walk around some of the unique exhibits.
‘Ewe Turn’ displays over 50 quirky brightly coloured fibreglass sheep, each decorated by various local artists, clubs, businesses, community groups and schools.
Below is a selection of some of our favourites.
L – A ‘Junk Art Sheep 2018’ entrant
R – ‘Flower’
L – ‘Cecil’ the ram, Nellie and her lamb ‘Moonie’
R – ‘Rose’ the kelpie, ‘Olive’ and ‘Australiana’
L – ‘Daily Newes’, ‘Puff’ the lamb and ‘Oceania’
R – ‘Cyan’
L – ‘Outback’ and ‘Dreaming’
R – ‘Ant Tracks’, ‘Ribbit’ the lamb and ‘Audrey
L – The National Australia Bank’s ‘Dollar’ and ‘Cent’ the lamb
R – ‘Tattooed Butcher’, Charlie Grace’ the lamb, ‘Flora’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’
Northampton was such a delightful town to visit. Next time, we’ll definitely stay longer!
Our next resting place was the city of Geraldton, to take the opportunity of a large centre to restock supplies and get our woolly heads tamed into submission with some long overdue haircuts. (You’d be surprised how hard it was to get a haircut appointment in some of the smaller towns up the coast! Definitely no barber shop walk-ins. And earliest available appointments were always days after we were scheduled to leave.)
We were surprised at how beautiful Geraldton’s foreshore was, despite the proximity of a large industrial port. The foreshore extended several kilometres all the way to the port at one end, and is lined by clean swimming beaches, busy boat ramps for recreational anglers, and some of the best community parks and BBQ facilities we’ve ever seen. All of which were well patronised by residents and tourists alike on the sunny weekend.
One of the highlights of our visit to Geraldton was the exquisite HMAS Sydney II memorial.
L – The dramatic Waiting Woman sculpture, looking out to sea
R – Representation of HMAS Sydney II’s prow
The Museum of Geraldton has a number of excellent permanent exhibits, including a fascinating 3D film of the project to locate and document the final resting places of the HMAS Sydney II shipwreck and that of her German attacker HSK Kormoran. The wrecks have rested undisturbed since 1941, 2.5 kms below the surface on the Indian Ocean seabed, and the resulting video of the final resting place depicts extraordinary scenes.
The museum also displayed many artifacts recovered from the major Dutch East India shipwrecks that occurred off this part of the coast in the 1600s and 1700s, long before European settlement in Australia.
We could have stayed a lot longer in the Kalbarri / Geraldton region, as there was so much to see and experience.
But, the wildflowers wait for nobody! Our next leg is inland to visit Western Australia’s famous wildflower region of Mullewa, Mingenew and Moora (and possibly some other places that don’t start with an M!).