Heading farther south, we entered Kalbarri National Park. This park covers more than 700 square miles and encompasses a variety of geology, flora, and fauna. The park’s highlights include dramatic coastal scenery of steep cliffs carved by the sea, dazzling wildflowers during the winter and into spring (with twenty-one plant species found only in this region), and, most of all, the spectacular Murchison Gorge, carved by the Murchison River.
Flowers can’t be missed if you’re there at the right season. Birds are abundant, and we saw a number of elegant raptors soaring on updrafts. Emus can be seen there, as well. Most of the mammals are nocturnal, so are not visible to us day-trippers, but western gray kangaroos do come out during the day. And I never get tired of kangaroos. Wonderful animals. There are also, of course, a number of lizards, including the prickly, ant-eating thorny devil, which I’d first encountered in the Centre.
The town of Kalbarri, a charming little beachfront settlement that is home to a successful fishing industry, is also the base for visitors to the park. We stopped in Kalbarri, where we bought ice cream and then strolled across the beach and waded in the gentle surf.
However, the highlight of our visit, and the place we spent the most time, was Murchison Gorge. We hiked, scrambled up and down cliffs, admired wildflowers, and delighted in our surroundings. I was particularly struck by the fact that, though we were still seeing red rocks, there was a lot more greenery than we’d become accustomed to. A favorite spot was the Hawks Head Lookout that jutted out over the gorge, offering an amazing view of the river below, the gorge, and the surrounding area.
Below is one of many photos I took of Murchison Gorge, with the rock known as Hawks Head protruding into the image from the right.