Exploring Western Australia is something that’s going to take heaps of time to do. This state is so vast – it takes up nearly half of the whole country by itself!
Recently we took a road trip north and spent 5 days exploring Kalbarri and the surrounds and had an amazing time. If you haven’t taken a road trip up north from Perth, you’re missing out on some amazing scenery, places, and things to do.
Kalbarri is around a 6-hour drive from Perth. Add in some stops (we stopped at Jurien Bay and Geraldton) and you’re looking at 7-8 hours, making it long enough in my mind for one day.
Here are some of our Kalbarri highlights of our holiday.
Where We Stayed
After doing some research online, it was clear that camping was the way to go. At around $40-50 a night for camping, as opposed to $200-300 a night for pretty average holiday homes, it was finally time for us to give camping in Australia a go.
I’m a luxury hotel girl at heart so this was going to be a big challenge for me. The last time I officially camped in a tent was on my Std 8 camp to St Lucia in Kwa Zulu Natal where we slept in huge army tents and on pallet beds and sleeping bags. I’ve been scarred ever since.
We booked the Murchison River Caravan Park as it was very central, right across the road from the river and beach, and opposite the daily pelican feeding (more about that later).
It was a good choice, as some other parks were a bit of a walk from the shops and cafes, and one we drove through to have a nose around had little to no shade, so I was happy with our choice.
We went with a no power pitch as we only had a tent and honestly, it was fine. We took plenty of lights and mostly ate out so power wasn’t really a big issue for us.
The camp kitchen was fab, with commercial-style fridges so there was always plenty of space for any goods we needed to keep cool. They had a TV in there too which the kids seemed to appreciate more than the adults!
Bathroom facilities were good and kept pretty clean around the clock. They have bathroom units with shower, basin and toilet all in one so you can use them as a family rather than having to split up or play tag team with the kids.
What We Did In Kalbarri
I was actually blown away by how much there was to do in Kalbarri.
We had so many things to choose from that we had to narrow it all down to what we could actually fit into our 5-night stay.
The main thing on Mr 9’s list was fishing so we had to make sure there was fishing on the itinerary at least once a day. We only caught 3 decent fish while we were there (2 black bream and a goldbanded rockcod), but that was better than nothing and he was happy with that.
We left it too late to book a canoe safari which was a little disappointing but now I know to book in advance next time. Big River Ranch, which offer trail rides on horseback, couldn’t allow my son to ride as he didn’t meet the minimum weight limit so we gave that one a miss until he is big enough.
We did however manage to get up to loads of fun things during our stay in Kalbarri.
One of the most famous things to do in Kalbarri is head to the foreshore in the morning and watch the pelicans get fed. Apparently it all started back in the 1970s when a resident started feeding the pelicans every morning at 08:45. They got so used to it that when he didn’t appear on time, they would walk across the road to his house and wait for him at his front door.
These days it is run by volunteers who bring a bucket of mulies (small local fish) and they feed the pelicans with some help from some lucky few kids who are chosen to throw the fish. It does get very crowded so if you want a good view, get there early!
While we were fishing in the river, the pelicans noticed us chucking bits of bait to the seagulls so came over for a feed – Mr 9 got to feed them himself and absolutely loved it, because the chances of getting picked at the daily pelican feeding are pretty low.
Top of my list was snorkelling at Blue Holes. This stretch of beach is similar to Mettam’s Pool in Perth.
What I was not expecting was how freezing the water was. It was absolutely icy! It was the beginning of October so perhaps it warms up over summer, but be warned.
The fish life was amazing though, and the ware so incredibly crystal clear. We couldn’t stay in as long as I would have liked but I’m glad we went in.
Kalbarri National Park
Nature’s Window was the other big thing on our Kalbarri to-do list. We arrived at 9am one weekday morning, thinking it would be quiet, but no such luck.
We ended up in a queue of international tourists for around an hour before we got to see and take a photo of us sitting in the rock formation that is Nature’s Window.
If you’re going to do this attraction get there earlier than we did! And take fly nets – that was the best advice we got before we went (thanks James!). They’re $3 at Red Dot in Perth or $10-15 in Kalbarri when you’re desperate to keep flies off your face. Sneaky but hey, supply and demand.
The scenery at Nature’s Window is seriously spectacular. None of my photos really do it justice – it’s a place you really do need to experience in person.
After getting our obligatory tourist photo at Nature’s Window we headed to a different part of Kalbarri National Park, around a 20-30 minute drive further inland. We drove one of the straightest roads I’ve ever seen – it just kept going and going for miles – I loved it!
The Ross Graham Lookout was our destination and it was so quiet and peaceful after the craziness of Nature’s Window. By this time it was really warm so we were glad to have packed lots of water and snacks (there is no drinking water available in the park so you must take your own, and lots of it, if you are spending the day here).
If you love birds, you can’t miss Rainbow Jungle. You might think, how much fun can a bird park be? Well this one is awesome, and so big too! We easily spent 2 hours here and could have stayed longer too if we didn’t have so many other things to see and do before we left.
They have a stunning walk through aviary where the little finches and parrots are free to fly around, and they have a gorgeous cockatoo that talks to you and brings you gifts if he likes you. SO cute.
There is a lookout tower too, where you can see some incredible, far-reaching views across the coastline. It’s a bit hairy if you don’t do heights well (like me), but worth the climb.
Exploring The Coastline & Whale Watching
You could easily spend a whole day exploring the various trails and inlets along the coastline of Kalbarri.
Some of the stops we managed to fit in were:
We took a picnic and watched the sunset one evening from the rocks at Pot Alley and were lucky to spot 2 groups of whales migrating not far offshore. We watched them for around 20 minutes as they swam, flicked their tails and breached right in front of us. It was pretty spectacular and we were all mesmerised.
Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake
On the drive back to Perth we stopped at the viewpoint for Hutt Lagoon which is a pink lake. Yes, you read that right. A pink lake. It’s pink due to the presence of a certain algae which is also used a food colouring. It’s amazing to see but the day we stopped it was insanely windy so we didn’t hang around for long.
Where We Ate In Kalbarri
Being first time campers and not having a powered site, we decided not to take heaps of cooking things and just eat simply or eat out.
We had some great food in Kalbarri so here are some of our highlights.
Red Bluff Café
Great coffee and a scrumptious selection of cakes and pastries – I defy you not to find something delicious at Red Bluff Café. We also grabbed toasted sandwiches and bacon and egg rolls here which were yummy and affordable. Open from 6am as well so great for early risers.
Shawny’s Country Kitchen
I’m a bit of a planner when it comes to holidays so I did my research extensively before we left. One place that was mentioned over and over on different sites was Shawny’s Country Kitchen. They make fresh pies daily and Mr C LOVES pies (as do I) so we decided to check them out.
Well, we regretted only coming here on day 3 of our holiday. The pies were AMAZING! And the fillings are not your usual boring ones. Eggs benedict, brekkie, butter chicken, Mediterranean, spiced chicken and satay chicken to name a few. We tried a few and loved them all. Do not miss this gem if you visit Kalbarri! We even got some on our last morning to have for lunch when we hit Jurien Bay.
The Pickled Pelican
Next door to the Murchison Caravan Park you’ll find a gorgeous little café called The Pickled Pelican. We had coffee, breakfast, and dinner here during our stay and were seriously impressed with their delicious food, great service and friendly (super hard-working!) staff.
It had a chilled vibe and great food, with a nice selection of crowd-pleasers, healthy options, and interesting flavour combinations.
A few people had recommended Finlay’s to us and I made a point to book a table one evening, as they do get super busy, especially in the school holidays.
The whole restaurant is open-air and its quirky décor only adds to the charm of this seafood restaurant. The food was good and they have their own brewery on site so make sure you try their beers if you’re a craft beer lover. They also have a fire pit where you can roast marshmallows – genius.
Our Verdict On Kalbarri
Overall, we all loved our stay in Kalbarri and agreed we would return, just because there is so much do but also, you could do as little as you wanted and just relax too.
Mr 9 says he rates Kalbarri a 10/10 and his favourite thing to do was fishing and his favourite place we went to was Rainbow Jungle.
Sleeping on an air mattress was not particularly enjoyable and I’m such a light sleeper that I didn’t have the best sleep most nights. But other than that, it was a great holiday. I think camping is one of those things that the more you do, the better it gets because you know what you’re doing. I think it’s great to do as a group as well, especially for the kids then they all have friends to hang out with.
If you haven’t been to Kalbarri, I’d recommend adding it to your WA travel bucket list. If you love being outdoors, this is the perfect holiday destination for you.
Have you been to Kalbarri? What were your highlights? I’d love to know so leave your experiences in the comments below.