Gorgeous Gorges

Tue. 21st May 2019

Pelcan at sundownAt last we can put roots down for a while as we have three nights in Kalbarri. Today we are heading inland following the Murchison River which meanders though gorges as it heads down to Kalbarri and the sea, and tomorrow we will visit the cliffs along the coast. As we head off we see a bird fly past and our initial reaction was seagull but it was bigger and soaring. Very excited as it was an osprey (but we have no photographic proof!). We are too late to watch the pelicans being fed and so don’t go down to the river, but we have seen loads of them already – and we’re not hugely keen on animals becoming dependant on humans.

Z Bend of Murchison RiverAs we have already mentioned there seems to be a large amount of funding available for tourism in WA and the Kalbarri National Park is no exception. Here, the West Loop lookout is closed for the construction of a skywalk budgeted to cost 20 million AUD that is already two years overdue. Maybe we will have to come back when it is finally finished as the views are so spectacular. We also just get to the Z Bend lookout before it closes on 23rd May for maintenance as winter here approaches. Each stopping place has a well organised car park, picnic tables, toilets and concreted paths to the viewpoint. The day pass to enter is $13 per car but by a bit of research I bought an Annual Pass on line for $90 which allows us access to all of WA parks and we have already got our moneys worth.

Multicoloured rocksSo first stop is Z Bend which overlooks a bend in the Murchison River with the option of a 2.6km walk/scramble to the riverbed. This gives a good view of the Tumblagood sandstone and the different layers that have formed over the years. The river deposits are the thicker red sandstone and the whiter colour below this is from tidal deposits of sandstone and silt stone, according to one of the information boards. It all makes for an interesting view of the many coloured and textured sides of the gorge – particularly as they erode at different rates making the layers very visible.

Nature's Window lives up to its nameAs we have many more places to visit and we are not sure that descending to the riverbed will bring any more views so we move on to Nature’s Window. As we drove over a ridge our hearts sank as we saw the car park is full of coaches, motor homes and cars and the thought of more crowds to fight through did not appeal. We were actually pleasantly surprised as there was plenty of space to see the view and what a view. It reminds us of Fish River Canyon in Namibia. Once we were past the cluster of tourists around the entrance there are plenty of viewpoints to share around.

Down? Really?There is a circular walk from here that takes you around one of the bends, first on cliff top then back on the sand rivers edge to the start. This is the 8km Loop trail with some challenging sections taking three to four hours approximately. The sun is now high in the sky and the temperature and number of flies rising, so we both quickly agreed that would be too far. We settled on walking a short way out along the cliff top, scrambling over rocks at times and does that arrow really mean down there? Yes it does. The views were worth the scramble. Once we had our fill of the views it was time to fill our stomachs with another picnic from our on board fridge, passing by the beers in favour of orange juice.

You just have to admire the viewThere are two more view points to see along the gorge. Hawks Head was nice enough with a short walk to the lookout. We then headed on to the Ross Graham Lookout and mused whether it would be more Ross Noble than Billy Graham. With all this driving between listening to the Economist and golf podcasts there is time to let your mind wander. It turns out that Ross Graham was the local primary school headmaster who pushed for national recognition of the gorges. This was the easiest route to the riverbank so we took advantage of that and descended down the path to the water.

Colourful flowers in all the greenThe drive back was more of the same scenery we have been seeing for a while and that is km after km of low squat trees or bushes on the level for as far as one can see. The road just heads straight and disappears over the horizon. I was intrigued by the bushes which had lots of dark brown cone shaped flower heads. On a few the flowers had not yet died and were bright orange. I just had to get Dave to stop so I could take a photo.

View of the river at water levelOur evening sunset trip out started at the memorial to the ship Zuytdorp which was wrecked in 1712 on the coast at Kalbarri. It brought home to me the whole issue that ships had of establishing their longitude position so they knew where to turn north to reach Batavia (now Java) and avoid overshooting into the treacherous waters of Western Australia. The Zuytdorp misjudged and suffered the unfortunate consequences. I am reminded of the prize money put up to invent a way of determining a ships position and the Harrison clocks designed to do this. Also of the replica a friend made of such a clock from only photos.

Still impressive even if not the best we have seenArmed with tripod, filters and other paraphernalia I headed out to prepare for sunset. Needless to say it was a damp squib and little to report. I did have to try and ten years ago would have been pleased with the result. We frequently discuss how our round the world trip helped us to improve our photographic skills no end. Dave had better luck with the pelican who was after the fish being waved by a local and crowded by the ever present Chinese tourists.

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