Blog 190 Karbarri 5 – 6th November 2011


You’d think we’d be sick of gorges and national parks by now but Kalbarri is different again, we had just caught the tail end of the wild flower season (July – Nov) and for the first time in over four months we saw colours other than red dirt, dry greens and browns. We were treated to a carpet of purples, whites, yellow and reds that many Australians haven’t seen.

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We had the first lookout to ourselves and took advantage riding the bike into the UFO looking shelter to take some pictures before riding to the second lookout where we could walk down to the Murchison river. Look for me (Karen) in the fourth photo standing by the giant rock it will give you a sense of how huge this place is.

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Kalbarri itself was just a small town where we enjoyed lunch overlooking the bay before fueling up and heading back out on the sandy road to Natures Window. This time we instantly lowered the tyre pressures and Kev did a stirling job of keeping us on the straight and narrow through the deep and undulating sand. It took us an hour before we arrived at the car park. A short walk later in afternoon heat and we reached the iconic Natures Window a natural rock arch eroded in the cliff which framed the river below. We marveled at the nature and chatted to other tourists trying to disuade an already sunburnt pom from heading north now. His job offer fell through and he had a friend in Darwin he was intending to meet, we can only hope he listened to our advice about heading south first.

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We had no time to do the 3-5hr walk but instead jumped on the bike to head across to another view of the gorge the Z bend. It was here we were passed by our first biker in ages we slowed and waved as much as we could in sand, pride before a fall they say and about a km later we hit a deep spot and took a spill giving Kev another bruise to match the one on his leg from last week. Soon after the GS rider passed us again leaving us to wonder if he just rode round the car park, he certainly didn’t have time to walk to the lookout point so he had just had a 60 odd km ride in sand for nothing it takes all sorts!

We reached the Z bend car park and walked to the view point where the gorge plunged 150metres into the river, it was an awsome place but we knew we had an hours ride back out on the sand and still needed to find a camp before dark so we made tracks towards Kalbarri again.

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We had to turn to our camps book again as the campsites in the town were overpriced so we ended up at a station stay Wagoe Wagoe. We pitched up on the field overlooking the sea and had the place to ourselves even making the most of the free washing machine and getting the stuff dry before we had to be out at 10am. We had to stop on the way and photograph Browne’s boulevard our namesake.

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We had passed a few interesting looking offshoots last night so we retraced back to Kalbarri exploring all the costal cliffs with exotic names such as Shellhouse grandstand, Pot alley and Eagle gorge. These were where nature had shaped this dramatic coastal landcape, fracturing and decaying the cliffs into spectacular rock formations.

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Looking at the map Perth was in our sights so we started to make contact with some of the people who had offered help, accomodation etc to give them some kind of idea when we would show up. People had said there was not much to see apart from the Pinnacles from here to Perth. We blew that myth out the water as we had barely left Kalbarri national park before we were stopping again, this time for the pink lake of Hutt lagoon and Lynton convict hiring station.

The Pink Lake gets its spectacular colour from the algal blooms of the microscopic algae Dunaliella salina which blooms when conditions are salty, sunny and warm. The algae produce carotenoids to protect themselves from these harsh conditions and the carotenoids are what gives the lakes their unusual and beautiful colours.

The algae is cultivated and harvested in the Hutt Lagoon and the natural mix of carotenoids (including beta and alpha carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin) are extracted. These are then sold world-wide for use in dietary supplements, aquaculture feeds and as a natural food colouring. It was hard to get a good shot of the lake to show any of the pink colour as the sun was directly overhead. Beyond is the garnet mine.The tailing sands are trucked back to replace the mined dunes which are re-shaped to natural contours and covered with the original topsoil for rehabilitation with seed and natural growth. Hence this bizarre landscape from green fields to sand dunes to open quarry. Garnet is used for coating abrasive papers and sandblasting as it’s incredibly hard.

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Just down the road was evidence of the convict past in WA, the Lynton convicts hiring depot, a historic settlement occupied by convicts from 1853-6. This convict hiring station employed convicts to work at the local Geraldine lead Mine and local pastoral stations. Etched on the cell walls we could still see the initials of some of the convicts along with more modern additions. Some of the buildings had been restored including Sanfords House built for Captain Henry Ashford Sanford the superintendent of the depot. It showed the stark contrast between settler and convict life. For about three years, a settler lived in his fine country house, two stories overlooking the pink lake and the coastal dunes above rolling green and flowering paddocks, while around the corner on the other side of the hill was the convict depot. The convicts had to build their own quarters which were not finished until 1856 and living conditions were harsh. Like just about everywhere round here, the lack of reliable water, and the failure of the port led to the quick demise of the depot. 

For those interested please read this article. http://register.heritage.wa.gov.au/PDF_Files/K-L%20Reg/Lynton%20Convict%20Dep…

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It was leaving Lynton that we encountered our first long bend in ages Kev had to remember what to do…we also noticed a stark change in the vegetation from native bush into wheat fields. We pulled up at the road junction in Northampton fully intending to just turn right and head off to a camp down the road but the high street caught our eye and we turned around.

Northampton was a historic town and looked to be interesting, the caravan park was offering good rates to stay so we changed our plans, Perth would have to wait a little longer. We had a quick walk down the high street to take some photos and realised there was much more to see than we first thought.

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Next up – Historic Northampton

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