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