Monday, April 23, 2012

Murchison River gorge, Kalbarri National Park

We have been staying at the small town of Kalbarri for the last three days
relaxing. Kalbarri is on the coast nearly six hundred kilometres north of
Perth. This is a very popular holiday town with the Murchison River
reaching the coast. There is a large sand bar which creates a lagoon
providing a very safe beach - there are no crocodiles and apparently very
little shark risk. Canoeing up and down the river is very popular and there
is both river and ocean fishing for those who are keen, which doesn't
include us. Apparently the wildflowers are spectacular and can be seen from
June to November but sadly we missed them. A good reason to plan to revisit
one day.

Speaking to the manager at the caravan park he told us that February and
March are his only quiet months - it is after the school holidays and too
hot for all but the European tourists who are escaping the winter at home.
It gets very hot in the summer but come autumn and winter the days are great
with temperatures in the mid 20's to 30's and cool nights and the caravan
park is full. We have spoken to a number of folk who come here every year
for four weeks plus. From the front of the caravan park there are beautiful
views of the water and the landscaped foreshore and every evening people
congregate to watch the sun set.

Kalbarri is on the tourist route because of the National Park. The park
borders the town (which has a permanent population of around 1800 and swells
to 15,000 during the main holiday periods) and there is reasonable access to
the sights. Today we drove ten kilometres out of town on asphalt then
turned on to a side road into the National Park. This road was very similar
to the roads we travelled in Cape York - dirt, corrugations, sand and
desperate for a grader to go through. The road was twenty kilometres to a T
intersection - one direction to Z Bend and the other to The Loop and
Nature's Window.

It was over thirty degrees today so very warm as we initially walked to see
Z-bend. It is a 1200 metre walk down hill and brought us to a lookout over
the National Park and the gorge which was about 150 metres below with red
gum trees contrasting against the red of the rock and the water. I must say
that the walk back up the hill left me quite breathless. Pleased I am not
doing this in ten years' time. We could have walked further down the hill
to the river but chose not to do so. The flies were so bad today we
desperately needed fly nets and they were not in the car. Besides flying
around in front of our face, they seemed to stick to us. We weren't
concerned about the number getting a free ride on our backs, but hovering in
front of our faces and trying to get a free ride there, was another story.
No amount of fly cream (which normally works extremely well) or Bushman's
Fly Spray seemed to help today. They were so bad that there was no way we
were going to make use of the picnic facilities - eating a sandwich with a
fly on it certainly didn't appeal.

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