Kalbarri National Park is already well known by locals and tourists alike for its bizarrely beautiful sandstone formations, abseiling opportunities and many scenic swimming spots, but Kalbarri will soon be gaining a new feature that looks certain to attract many more visitors.
The Liberal National Government announced yesterday that it had set aside $20 million to develop an innovative tourism area within the park, including two 100 metre tall skywalks which will overlook the Murchison River Gorge. While the tourism area will also include parking places (including some for “large caravans”) toilets and shade shelters, there’s no doubt that the skywalks are the jewel in the crown of this upcoming development.
Premier Colin Barnett said that the skywalks acknowledged the region’s existing tourism industry and added that they would also support regional economic growth. “Tourism is a cornerstone of Kalbarri's economy and building quality cutting-edge infrastructure to increase visitor enjoyment and experience is essential in ensuring the region's growth,” said Mr Barnett.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob spoke of Kalbarri National Park’s spectacular 80 kilometre gorge, and the sandstone cliffs that plummet more than 100 metres down to the ocean. “The park is famous for its exceptional wildflowers and for a variety of recreational activities. By improving access and infrastructure, we can help showcase our unique environment and encourage people to explore the State's natural heritage,” Mr Jacob commented.
Construction is scheduled to begin as early as next year and the skywalks should be ready for visitors some time in 2017. It would be a great shame to wait that long to visit this amazing place though, so for those who’d fancy a summer trip to Kalbarri National Park, we’ve got a quick guide to where to go, what to do and what makes Kalbarri such a perfect place to take a campervan holiday.
While skywalks will be an exciting addition for Kalbarri, they’re only worth constructing because of the park’s already impressive natural features. The Murchison River has cut a long and winding gorge through the surrounding sandstone - the power of the river and the abrasive effects of wind and rain have combined to sculpt this landscape into a place of twisted formations, plunging descents and striking natural archways. But it’s not just Kalbarri’s stone that impresses: every year, sand and dry gorges are transformed by a glorious outbreak of wildflowers. Western Australia has the largest variety of wildflowers in the world, with over 1,100 species springing up in Kalbarri National Park alone. July to October is the best time of year to see this startling transformation but even if you aren’t able to visit during these months there’s still plenty of reasons to pay a visit to this incredible place.
Thrillseekers who are keen to put the steep banks of Murchison River Gorge to good use will find plenty of opportunities to get their pulse racing. Z Bend Lookout is the place to go for a spot of abseiling - the activity is facilitated by trained adventure specialists who have assisted thousands of other climbers over the years so you know that no matter how terrifying the cliffs may seem, you are in perfectly safe hands.
If that sounds like it’s a little too much on the wild side, you can always take a refreshing dip at one of Kalbarri National Park’s famed swimming spots. Red Bluff Beach is popular for swimming, snorkelling and even fishing, while the deep pools of Ross Graham River provide an ideal freshwater alternative.
A few things to remember when visiting Kalbarri:
There is no drinking water available in the park - make sure to bring plenty of your own.
Camping isn’t permitted in Kalbarri National Park, but don’t worry: there are plenty of camping grounds ideal for motorhomes nearby, so picking up a campervan hire in Perth and tripping up the coastline is still a great vacation option.
All Western Australian wildflowers are protected by State law - admire them by all means, but please don’t pick them.