Kalbarri marks the end of our journey across central and north western Australia. Our arrival coincides with the wildflower season, where spectacular displays of colour blanket heathlands, rocky gorges and coastal parks. Sitting at the mouth of the Murchison River, Kalbarri is surrounded by the Kalbarri National Park. While there we walked the gorges and river banks of Nature’s Window Loop Hike and explored the coastal cliffs from Island Rock to Red Bluff. The Blue Holes beach and Chinaman’s Rock provided great views of the town and its beaches. The traditional owners of this beautiful landscape are the Nanda. As we left Kalbarri, we passed the Pink Lake before joining the highway homeward bound.
Nature’s Window Loop Hike and Murchison River
Murchison River view from Chinaman’s Beach
A natural world heritage area, Shark Bay is home to abundant and diverse marine life that includes dugongs, dolphins, and numerous species of shark, turtles, fish and sting rays. While there we saw a number of these animals, as well as beautiful coastal cliffs and abundant seasonal flowers on the Peron Peninsula. The ancient stromatolites at Hamelin Pool were amazing. We watched dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia, canoed across the Little Lagoon and enjoyed a meal at the most westerly hotel in Australia, Denham’s ‘Old Pub’. Shark Bay and its surrounding land is the traditional home of the Malgana, Nhanda and Inggarda people.
Eagle Bluff with Dugong
Thong Shack, near Denham
Stromatolites living at Hamelin Pool
Shark Bay evening cruise
On the edge of the Pilbara, the great Coral Coast includes Cape Range National Park and the Ningaloo Marine Park. We snorkeled the extremely rich and colourful underwater landscape of the Ningaloo fringed coral reef, which starts just meters from the waters edge at Oyster Stacks, Turquoise Bay and Coral Bay. We camped at the National Park with its limestone gorges and mangrove habitats. Humpback whales continued to frolic off the coast as we moved south.
Turquoise Bay with coral reef
Kurrajong beach and campsite
Mobile dunes at Osprey beach
Rich in natural beauty, resources and history, Pilbara coast line includes the massive iron ore, salt mining and gas shipping operations at Port Hedland, Port Dampier and the North West Shelf Project. The surrounding red plains were awash with colourful wildflowers such as the lovely Sturt Desert Pea. We visited the Burrup Peninsula’s Hearson’s Cove and Murujuga National Park, exploring aboriginal rock art in the Deep Gorge. The picturesque historical town of Cossack showcased it’s pearling past. Onslow ended our Pilbara coast experience with some fishing at the Beadon Creek.
Sturt Desert Pea
Karratha, NorthWest Shelf Project and salt lake art
Hearson’s Cove, Burrup Peninsula
Murujuga National Park, Burrup Peninsula
Halfway between Broome and Port Hedland we stopped at the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park. This area provides an important habitat for migratory birds and is a significant flatback turtle rookery.
Yellow faced cormorant
Sandpipers chasing ebbing waves
Crested pigeon enjoying sea breeze
Our southern most stop in the Kimberley included stays at the beautiful Cable Beach, Broome and the Barn Hill Outstation. No stay at Cable Beach is complete without a camel ride and evening spent watching a Cable beach sunset. Humpback whales swam along the coastal waters during our stay and we took advantage of a local charter to see them up close. While we were there, the high tide at Gantheaume Point concealed dinosaur footprints, but the lighthouse and rocky shore were worth exploring. Broome is situated on the traditional lands of the Yawuru people.
The rugged western coastline of the Kimberley is traditional home to the Nyikina people and unique Wandjina aboriginal art. At Derby we watched the tidal movement around the jetty, the highest in Australia at up to 11 metres and second highest in the world. To watch the tide ebb and flow across King Sound was incredible. From Derby we flew to Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay, enjoying a fast boat ride through the Falls, a cruise up Cyclone Creek and shark feeding. Our home flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago was spectacular.
Tawny Nurse shark
Derby jetty at sunset
Fitzroy Crossing sits along the great Fitzroy River and is the traditional land of Banuba people. The original town site and crossing stand as a reminder of early droving days. A little further along the banks of the Fitzroy River is Geigie Gorge with its ancient limestone reef that was once part of an inland sea that stretched from Derby to Kununurra. Over time, the limestone ridges have been both sculptured by rain and sandblasted during floods to give the contrasting black and white appearance.
Fitzroy River and original crossing site
Located at the north end of the Kimberleys, the town of Wyndham sits between the Cambridge Gulf and Erskine Ranges. Suffering economically since the closing of the nickel mine, Wyndham and its surrounding area still offers lots to see for travellers. While there we saw the Grotto with a waterfall fed pool around 300 feet deep, Parry Lagoon Nature Reserve with the RAMSAR Marglu Billaong, the King River, Moochalabra Dam, aboriginal cave paintings and an old boab tree that was once used as a temporary jail. The five rivers lookout offers spectacular view over the Wyndham port and the five rivers that feed into the gulf.
Euros at the five rivers lookout
View across port to the gulf & King River entrance (left)
The town’s giant croc
Boab prison tree
Aboriginal cave paintings
Boab field at sunset
Kununurra is the gateway to the spectacular east Kimberleys and traditional lands of the Mirriwoong and Gajirrawoong groups. Established along the Ord River Irrigation Scheme (ORIS), it lies close to Lake Argyle, Lake Kununurra and their respective RAMSAR protected wetlands. The nearby Gibb River Road and ranges include the El Questro Wilderness Park. The ORIS supports significant agriculture including sandalwood, mangoes, sugar and pumpkins.
Lily Creek Lagoon, Lake Kununurra
Ord River diversion dam spillway
View of Kununurra from Kelly’s Knob Lookout showing the lake (left) and Sandalwood crops (right)
El Questro Wilderness Park and Emma Gorge