Kaya/hello. I’m Wendy, a proud Perth local who enjoys travelling and exploring our state.
I’ve visited Kalbarri numerous times with family – camping and staying in private accommodation. And now I’m sharing the must-see spots and activities that make Kalbarri a popular Perth getaway.
Table of Contents
Best Free Things To Do in Kalbarri Western Australia
Kalbarri Visitor Centre
Your first stop should be the Visitor Centre at 70 Grey Street. It is open Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm and weekends and limited public holidays 9 am – 1 pm. Check directly for any seasonal changes.
Friendly staff provide up-to-date information on the area and what to see in Kalbarri.
Feeding of the Pelicans
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Every morning at 8.45, volunteers feed the local Pelicans. Find them on the Kalbarri foreshore opposite Murchison Caravan Park. This feeding is one of the most popular things to do in kalbarri for families. Children can feed the pelicans with the help of the volunteers.
The Pelican feeding is a free event, but a gold coin donation is appreciated.
We arrived at 8:30 and got seated fine, but there weren’t any left by 8:45. Allow 30 minutes for this activity.
Kalbarri National Park Things To Do – Inland Gorge
Kalbarri National Park covers 186,000 hectares including inland gorges and coastal cliffs. This National park is the best free thing to do in Kalbarri.
The Murchison River runs 80km through Kalbarri National Park. It has cut through the sandstone rocks over the past 400 million years to form dramatic gorges. This river is the second longest in WA, at 820 km long, and has a catchment area of 82,000 km². Starting in Meekatharra, the Murchison River travels across dry plains, hills, salt lakes, and gorges. Cyclones in the north drop vast amounts of rain into the catchment area, reaching Kalbarri up to three weeks later. You can see the moody brown water flowing into the ocean after extreme floods.
You need a pass as it’s a National Park, which you can buy at the Visitor Centre or the park entrance. The cost is A$15 per vehicle per day. Kalbarri National Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
All the roads are sealed and accessible by 2wd. The exception is Pot Alley, which is unsuitable for caravans or motorhomes.
You cannot camp in Kalbarri National Park and pets are not permitted. No drinking water is available, so ensure you have at least 3 to 4 litres of water per person with you. It will be 10°C hotter in the gorges than in town, so bring a hat and sunscreen.
Natures Window Walk Trail Hike
⭐️ RATING: 4.7/5 Stars | Grade 3
Kalbarri’s iconic Natures Window is a 1km return walk from the Loop Car Park. It is a grade 3 trail, as there are a few rocks that you need to traverse. Allow 45 minutes, including photos. This is a must-do in Kalbarri.
A staircase leads down to the path which takes you to Natures Window. The walk passes by the river gorge with its red and white striped sandstone. Waves over the tidal flats formed the ripple effect.
The window is a sandstone rock eroded by wind and frames the Murchison River.
Try to arrive as early as possible, as it gets swamped due to it being one of the top things to do in Kalbarri. We had to queue for 5 minutes to take photos. As mentioned, it is hotter here than in town, so be prepared. We had finished this walk by 10 am, and it was sweltering.
Loop Trail Hike
Grade 4 | 9 km
The loop trail is a continuation of the Nature’s Window trail. It’s a difficult 9 km hike but one of the best hikes we’ve done in Western Australia.
It’s a class 4 hike, and you should allow 3 to 4 hours to complete it. It is challenging, and you must arrive early in summer as it can reach 50°C along the loop, and there isn’t much shade. Because of this, the trail is closed after 7 am from November to March.
Once you climb down some rocks after Nature’s Window, the trail leads you along the clifftop. The views down into the gorge from here are incredible. The path is rocky and involves a bit of climbing, but it’s not that strenuous. There are distance markers every 500m, not great at the start but an incentive towards the end of the trail.
As you make your way along the clifftop, there are a couple of sections where you need to climb up the rocks. It’s not difficult, but you require a certain fitness and flexibility level.
Make sure to stop for photos, as the views from up there are spectacular. Look out for wildflowers if you are visiting in late winter or spring.
Once you’ve descended the gorge, you’ll see a sign warning that there’s another 5 km to go. I found this the most challenging part of the trail. It advises that if you are tired or don’t have enough water, you should turn around and retrace your steps.
The view from the river bed is spectacular and puts the cliffs into perspective. Keep an eye out for mountain goats on the cliff opposite.
The trail follows the river, where the hardest section of the hike is. You have to walk along a narrow ledge near the water’s edge. It isn’t high, but the water didn’t look too appealing, so I didn’t want to fall in! The worst part for me was the overhang, so I had to get relatively low to get through the gap.
Once you pass the ledge section, you make your way back up, climbing up the rocks. Pay attention to where the signs are as we saw a few people miss them and carry on along the edge of the water.
Once up a bit higher, you walk under some river red gums, which provide shade. The remaining part of the trail involves sandy sections with broken boulders, but it is easy to navigate.
As you come close to the end, you ascend back to the trailhead at Nature’s Window. This is a short and steep climb but relatively easy as the rocks have been made into steps. We were lucky enough to spot a euro (common wallaroo) here.
We completed the Kalbarri Loop Trail in 2 hours and 40 minutes, including taking photos and water breaks. The time of year helped as it was in July, and the temperature was about 18C. Our teens enjoyed the challenge of this walk and the varied trail conditions. For me, it’s up there in my Top Western Australian Hikes.
The Z Bend Lookout and Z Bend River Trail Hike
⭐️ RATING: 4.7/5 Stars
The Z Bend lookout is a 1.2km return class 3 walk from the car park. It has spectacular views of the Z Bend gorge, plunging 150m down to the Red River Gum trees and sandstone rocks.
The Z Bend trail is a 2.6 km return Class 4 hike you can get to from the path leading to the lookout. It’s a demanding trail with steep descents, ladder climbs, and slippery rocks.
The first part of the trail was the easiest, with sand and a few rocks, so beware of tripping over. It becomes more challenging as you descend large fallen boulders that are slippery due to sand and possible water. There are ladders at certain parts, but these are easy to go down.
Near the river is the hardest part of the trail, where you have to step across a crevice to reach the ladder. Once through this, multiple rocks are positioned in stair formation.
At the bottom, you will be treated to the Murchison River up close with some extraordinary rock formations.
The return journey is much easier as it involves climbing instead of descending.
Once you reach the fork, follow the sign to the lookout that has a great vantage point of the Z Bend.
We found the trail busy and had to wait at parts of the track so consider getting there early.
Four Ways Trail Hike
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Four Ways Trail is an unmarked Class 4, 6km strenuous hike which descends to the Murchison River. We didn’t do this hike after reading that it has potentially dangerous terrain with parts requiring you to swim through various pools.
Hawk’s Head Lookout
⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
Hawk’s Head is a 200m return Class 1 walk named after the shape of a rock seen from the lookout. Kalbarri’s gorge views from the lookout are spectacular, or you can enjoy gorge views from the sheltered picnic area.
Ross Graham Lookout
⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
The Ross Graham Lookout is a Class 3, 200m return walk named after Kalbarri’s first school teacher. The lookout provides breathtaking views over the deep gorges, and then a short walk takes you down to the river. Once there, you can scramble over rocks to see more of the river.
Meanarra Hill Lookout
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Meanarra Hill Lookout is 5km east of the town and 207m above sea level. It’s an easy walk along a concrete path to 360-degree views of Kalbarri, The Murchison River, and the Indian Ocean. It is fully accessible with ramps up to the lookout and offers seating and shade. This lookout is an excellent place to watch the sunset.
The Grade 3, 1.5 km loop Mallee Fowl Trail starts here.
⭐️ RATING: 4.8/5 Stars
The two 100-metre-high cantilevered lookouts allow you to walk out for views of the spectacular gorge and Murchison River. Easy access is provided to the viewing deck and undercover seating, toilets, and a kiosk.
Kalbarri Skywalk is free once you have paid for the entrance to Kalbarri National Park.
The mesh walkways can be daunting for those afraid of heights, but the structure is extremely sturdy, providing a sense of security. The view 100m below your feet is incredible, as are the views from the barriers, looking down into Murchison gorge.
Things To Do Kalbarri National Park Coastal
This part of the National Park is free of charge. If you are here between June and November, keep an eye out for migrating whales.
All along this coast, you will see layered Taumblagooda Sandstone cliffs that are 480 million years old. These were deposited as sand and silt from rivers. The white rocks of the top part of the cliffs are made from the younger Tamala Limestone. The wind that blew from sand dunes over the past 2 million years converted to limestone and is what you see today.
Natural Bridge and Castle Cove Lookouts
⭐️ RATING: 4.7/5 Stars
Natural Bridge Lookout and Castle Cove is a 200m return Class 1 walk, which provides stunning views along the coastline. The Castle Cove Lookout offers an impressive view of Island Rock.
You will pass many plant species that have adapted to this harsh coast. Many of them having small prickly leaves to reduce moisture loss and salt and sun damage. Keep away from this fragile vegetation as it provides protection for seeds that aid rehabilitation.
The wind, waves and salt spray from the Indian Ocean have carved out this incredible landform.
The Bigurda Boardwalk
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
The Bigurda Boardwalk connects Natural Bridge to Island Rock. You can get to it from either carpark.
It’s an easy 1.2km walk, but keep to the boardwalk and be vigilant with children as there aren’t any railings and sheer drops off the cliff.
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Island Rock was once part of the mainland but is now a solitary sea stack. The best views of it are from Castle Cove Lookout and along the Bigurda Boardwalk.
⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
The Shellhouse Grandstand is best viewed at sunset when the sun’s red glow looks spectacular against the sandstone cliff. The name came about from fishermen at sea that thought they could see a shell-shaped house on the side of the cliff.
Eagle Gorge and Bigurda Trail
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Paths from the car park can access the lookout and beach for Eagle Gorge. This is also where the Bigurda Trail starts. It’s an 8km Class 3 walk which will take approximately 3-5 hours and ends at the Natural Bridge. The views here are stunning; you might even see dolphins or humpback whales.
Watch out for the wedge-tailed eagles that nest here, and you might see them trying to catch prey.
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Pot Alley got its name from a local fisherman who lost many lobster pots to this treacherous cove. The view south from the cliffs captures the pure ruggedness of the coastline. You can take a rocky walk down to the beach here, but swimming is not recommended.
Red Bluff Lookout
⭐️ RATING: 4.6/5 Stars
Red Bluff Lookout is a 1km Class 1 return walk along a paved path. Signage along the walking trail details the history of the area. Red Bluff has the highest elevation of the National Park Coastal Cliffs, with 100m of cliff face.
You can hike down from Pederick Lookout to Red Bluff Beach, but it is steep in parts and slippery. It’s a Class 4 walk, so allow 30-60 minutes.
From the lookout, you have views across the Indian Ocean and beautiful rock formations. It’s a great place to look for whales when they are migrating.
The beach is a popular spot for fishing, and the contrast of the white sand against the red rocks is spectacular, especially at sunset.
Rainbow Valley & Mushroom Rock
⭐️ RATING: 4.3/5 Stars
The 3km loop Class 4 trail from the Rainbow Valley car park to Mushroom Rock takes you through the valley and along the clifftop. Signs along the path explain about the ancient Tumblagooda Sandstone and its features. If you walk this trail around dawn or dusk, you may see the kangaroos feeding amongst the coastal bush and rocky outcrops.
The most popular beach in Kalbarri for families is the one closest to town, Chinaman’s Beach. It is at the mouth of the Murchison River and is protected, so it is very calm. You can also hire Canoes, Kayaks, Paddleboats, Sup boards, Sailboats and motorised dinghy (no skippers ticket needed). There are outdoor cold-water showers at Chinaman’s Beach too.
Back Beach is great for watching the sunset and surfing.
Blue Holes is part of a limestone reef with parts submerged, creating “holes”. Around 70 species of fish are home here, which makes it ideal for snorkelling. As the reef protects it, it is good for swimming too.
Kids enjoy wading through the shallow rock pools in search of marine life.
Jacques Point (known as Jake’s Point by the locals) is a popular surfing beach in Kalbarri providing a perfect left hand surf break along the point. It is safe for experienced surfers except when the swell is big, then only advanced surfers should try this break.
Kalbarri Sightseeing Tours
Kalbarri Reefwalker Ocean Discovery
⭐️ RATING: 4.8/5 Stars
A good way to see a different perspective of these incredible cliffs is on a Sunset Coastal Cliff Cruise. This tour takes you up close to Jacques Point, Red Bluff, Mushroom Rock, Rainbow Valley, Pot Alley and Eagle Gorge. When the sun dips into the ocean, the rocks take on their red colour.
Kalbarri Scenic Flights
This is the trip of a lifetime, where you will spend an unforgettable 1 hour and 45 minutes in the air exploring this stunning area. Fly over the mouth of the Murchison River, coastal cliffs and Bluff Point, then past Gantheume Bay to the Abrolhos Islands. As you descend low past East Wallabi, West Wallabi and the surf break called Super Tubes, you will see the beautiful coral through the crystal clear water. Return to Kalbarri via Pink Lake and see this natural phenomenon from the best viewpoint to admire the spectacular pink hues.
The Pink Lake
Hutton Lagoon, or Pink Lake, is near Port Gregory and half an hour’s drive from Kalbarri. The best time to visit Pink Lake is mid-morning to midday on a clear day. The lake lies below sea level, so seawater seeps into it. During winter, the levels increase, but by mid-summer, 95% is a dry salt flat. We visited in April, and it was pretty dry.
Pink Lake gets its bubblegum pink colour from the presence of the algae Dunaliella salina, which produces carotenoids. This site is the world’s largest microalgae production plant.
The best place to view Pink Lake is on Port Gregory Road, where there is also parking. For the best experience and to see its true pink hue, a scenic flight is the way to go.
A fun way to see it, is on a Pink Lake Buggy Tour.
Kalbarri Wilderness Cruise
Kalbarri Wilderness Cruise offers tours along the Murchison River, the only tour operator to do so. Depending on the season, there may be morning and sunset cruises to choose from.
Travel 6 km up the river to look for some of the prolific birdlife and maybe spot a kangaroo or emu. The cruise includes an informative commentary about the region’s history, animals and plants.
Complimentary tea/coffee on all cruises and a licensed bar (No BYO).
Kalbarri Abseil offer tours where you’ll hike the river trail followed by abseiling the cliffs.
Boating on the Murchison River
If you don’t have your own boat (like us), hire one from Kalbarri Boat Hire. They don’t require a skipper’s ticket, are easy to drive, and are big enough for a family of five. Rates start at A$70 for an hour.
It was windy on our way back in the afternoon and a bumpy ride (we all got wet and cold, so take a towel or waterproof jacket).
Whale Watching Cruise
From June to November, about 22,000 Humpback Whales pass the Kalbarri coast. They leave Antarctica, head north for warmer waters to give birth, and then return with their calves.
Book your Whale Watching Tour with Kalbarri’s longest-running whale-watching company.
Kalbarri Wagoe Beach Quad Bike Tours offer a guided self-drive Quad Bike & Beach Buggy Tour. Wagoe Beach is 20 km south of Kalbarri and a well known reef fishing spot with white sandy beaches.
If you’re keen on fishing, there are a few different options in Kalbarri:
Off the foreshore jetties – cod, bream, and mulloway
Sandspit in front of Sea Rescue building – whiting
Murchison River – mud crabs and blue swimmer crabs
Red Bluff Beach and Wittecarra – tailor and mulloway
Deep Sea Fishing – pink snapper, coral trout, red emperor, and baldchin groper
Fishing is not allowed at Blue Holes or Chinamans Beach. Check the department of fisheries for up to date information regarding a fishing licence, bag and size limits, and fishing rules.
Big River Ranch has a range of horses and ponies to suit all riders based on your riding ability. The tour starts at the ranch where a safety briefing takes place, followed by a guided trail ride through forest and across the banks of the Murchison River.
The Kalbarri Tennis Club has courts at the Kalbarri Sports and Recreation Centre on Porter Street. Social tennis is on Wednesday & Friday at 4:30pm onwards.
Costs are A$10 ball fee for non-members.
The 18-hole grassed golf course at Kalbarri Golf Club is in a picturesque setting with views of the ocean. Visitors are welcome and no booking is required.
Kids will enjoy the small Kalbarri Skate Park opposite the Kalbarri Edge Resort on Porter Street.
Join in the fun at Kalbarri Golf & Bowling Club with social bowls on Sundays at 1:30 pm for 2 pm start (except club championships or open days).
Rainbow Jungle & Outdoor Movies
Due to extensive damage from Cyclone Seroja, the Kalbarri attraction Rainbow Jungle is now closed. Outdoor movies are also closed at the present time. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Kalbarri Things To Do & Attractions Map
Places to eat in Kalbarri
Some of the best places to eat in Kalbarri are:
- Upstairs Restaurant
- Kalbarri Edge Restaurant
- The Gorges Café
- Wild Ocean Indonesian (food van)
- Finlays Kalbarri
- Kalbarri Pizza & Pasta
- Kalbarri Hot Bread Shop
Here are a couple of tips for Kalbarri restaurants. Make sure you book! We made this mistake and couldn’t find anywhere popular that had a table on our first night. Also, restaurants shut early in country towns, so don’t leave it too late to eat (I suggest about 7 pm).
The Kalbarri Hot Bread Shop is a bakery that sells not only bread but also pies, sausage rolls, and delicious sweet treats. Their sausage rolls are lovely with light, flaky pastry and the fresh jam doughnut oozed jam.
If you’re after a takeaway and like Beef Rendang, I recommend Wild Ocean Indonesian; it’s delicious. Their Mee Goreng and Nasi Goreng are also popular. This street food truck is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 5.00 pm to 7.30 pm Friday and Saturday and until 7 pm on Sunday. Due to its popularity, there could be a wait for your food during peak times like school holidays. It’s worth the wait, though.
We enjoyed our meal at Finlays restaurant. It is an outdoor restaurant that specialises in seafood. It was bustling when we visited, so book ahead. I had the seafood linguine, which was A$32.
Kalbarri Brief History
I respectfully acknowledge the Nanda People, the Traditional Custodians, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, traditions, culture, and hopes of the Nanda People.
Nanda are the saltwater people, keepers of the land and sea, and were recognised as the traditional land custodians in 2018. They believe in mythical Dreamtime and that the Rainbow Serpent, Beemarra, formed the Murchison River and the land we see today. Beemarra heard the sound of waves and travelled down the Murchison River, searching for the noise. She followed a creek, then disappeared underground, emerging at the Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs. Frightened by the waves, Beemarra quickly took off back to the safety of the river. Where she rested on her return journey, fresh water was left, the springs of which are still there today.
According to Landgate’s Town Name History, Kalbarri was named after an Aboriginal man from a local Murchison tribe. It is also the name of an edible seed. Prior to this name, it was known as Wurdimarlu.
Two mutinous crew members from The Dutch East India trading ship, Batavia, were put ashore in 1629. The vessel was shipwrecked nearby off the coast of the Abrolhos Islands.
Kalbarri became a popular fishing place in the 1940s and was declared a townsite in 1948. The primary industry was fishing (fish and lobster), but the number of boats has halved in recent years due to the fishing regulations as Western Australia work towards ecologically sustainable standards. Kalbarri now relies heavily on tourism, attracting over 100,000 visitors each year.
Our Tips on visiting Kalbarri WA
- If you are visiting in the wildflower season, consider taking a detour on your road trip to see some of the best wildflowers in Western Australia.
- The drive is long (around 6 hours), so don’t drive tired. It’s a killer.
- Pay attention on the drive to Kalbarri. The roads are long and tedious, but wildlife can jump out at anytime.
- Try to finish your road trip before dusk, this is when kangaroos are most active, and you risk hitting them.
- Go to the National Park gorges early in the morning. It is scorching hot there in summer.
- Take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat to the National Park.
- At certain times of the year, the flies are terrible. Don’t worry about what you look like, buy a fly net (we only experienced a few in April, though).
- Take good walking shoes.
- Be careful of cliff edges and slippery rocks.
- Book restaurants if you want to eat out, as they get booked far in advance.
- Visit the beautiful beaches in the morning before the ocean breeze starts to blow.
- Kangaroos gather at the oval on Porter Street around dusk.
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