The idyllic Kalbarri is tucked behind the rugged coast of Western Australia. It’s a small town that serves as the gateway to the spectacular Kalbarri National Park.
Kalbarri hosts a lot of unique attractions, but the stars are the two jaw-dropping Kalbarri Gorges. Eagle Gorge at the coast, and the Murchison River Gorge at the heart of the park.
Both gorges have trails for all kinds of hikers – from beginners to the most experienced looking for a good challenge.
Here’s how to get to each gorge, the best lookout spots, and walking trails near them, along with tips from our visit:
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Eagle Gorge: A Stunning Coastal Gorge
Eagle Gorge is one of Kalbarri’s coastal highlights. Here, you’ll witness the clash between the rugged coastal cliffs and the relentless Indian Ocean waves. Its name is derived from the frequent sightings of sea eagles in this area.
Getting to Eagle Gorge is easy – just a short 5-minute drive from Kalbarri town. You’ll go into the national park, so entry fees apply. Here’s the exact location of the lookout.
There’s a designated car park. From there, a 300-meter walking trail leads you to a viewing platform, where you can soak in panoramic views of the gorge and the ocean.
The weather here can vary so be aware! We went in the rain but it was still beautiful. Just watch your footing and stay on trails to be safe. It’s popular at sunset but can get quite windy during the summer months.
And for those who want a bit more adventure, there are two great walks to do:
Eagle gorge walk
This 20-minute trail takes you down to Eagle Beach, a secluded beach where you can go snorkelling or fishing.
The trail is generally considered an easy route, filled with birding opportunities and a wealth of biodiversity. The switchback trail is short but steep, going over sandstone terraces.
Experienced walkers can take it to the next level by doing this 8-km, class-3 hike along the coastal cliffs. This trail allows you to soak in all the dramatic landscape as you walk towards Island Rock and Natural Bridge.
And if you visit in winter, you may be able to see whales breaching!
Murchison River Gorge: The Heart of Kalbarri National Park
This massive gorge was carved by the Murchison River flowing for thousands of years. It captivates with its imposing cliffs, tranquil gorge pools, bright coloured patterned rock faces and the ever-changing play of light and shadow.
The Murchison is the second-longest river in Western Australia. Along its path, there are some stunning spots where you can soak in the spectacular scenery of this gorge:
Nature’s Window is one of the most photographed and recognised landmarks in Western Australia. It’s a naturally formed rock arch, which frames a view of the gorge and the river below.
A well-maintained path leads you to this geological wonder, making it easily accessible to all visitors. The window is located about 1km from the car park, and the trail there is relatively flat and comfortable.
We wrote an entire guide on visiting Nature’s Window, but if you want to really explore the surroundings, you must check out the Loop Walk.
The Loop walk is a class-4, 9km trail that takes you down to the river gorge and its surroundings. Average hikers may expect to finish it in 2.5 hours.
During hot days, access is closed after 7 am due to the high temperatures. So, make sure to schedule this first thing in the day.
The loop walk is one of our favourite day walks in Western Australia. Don’t miss the opportunity to do it!
The Z Bend
Named after the rare sharp bends of the Murchison River, the Z Bend lookout path offers an entirely different perspective of the gorge.
After a 1.2km walk from the car park, you’ll reach a viewing platform where you’ll see the river’s dramatic turns.
For the more adventurous, there’s the Z Bend River Trail. This 2.6km (return) trail provides river access, offering a unique perspective of the towering gorges from below.
It’s a more challenging walk and can take 2-3 hours. Also, expect loose rocks and ladder climbs. The rewards are well worth it, though!
And for a track that will test the most experienced walkers, there’s the Four Ways trail. This demanding hike is considered one of the most challenging in Western Australia, going through 6km of unmarked path.
Keep reading: Everything you need to know before visiting the Z Bend.
The latest addition to Kalbarri National Park, the Kalbarri Skywalk, offers the perfect vantage point to see the Murchison River Gorge.
These two cantilevered walkways extend 25 and 17 metres beyond the cliff edge, giving you a thrilling sense of being suspended above the gorge.
The Skywalk is easily accessible via a sealed road. The site has ample parking, picnic areas, and toilet facilities. It’s also wheelchair accessible. There is even a cafe there!
If you’re short on time, you can check Nature’s Window, the Z bend, and Kalbarri Skywalk in one morning.
Murchison River Gorge Walk
For the those seeking a multi-day challenge, there is a 4 to 6 day hike which takes you through the winding Murchison River Gorge. A 38km hike starting at Ross Graham Lookout and ending at the Loop.
Ross Graham lookout
This is a wheelchair-accessible lookout that offers you another excellent perspective of the Murchison River gorge.
The Ross Graham Lookout also a great spot to spend the day, as the edge of the river is only a 700-metre walk from the carpark, after climbing down a few stairs. Once there, you can take a swim, kayak, or have a picnic. There are toilets available.
Meanarra Hill lookout
Standing 200 metres above sea level, the Meananarra Hill lookout gives you a 360° view of the entire area, including the town and the ocean. The contrast between the rugged landscape of the park and the intense blue of the Indian Ocean is absolutely inspiring.
It’s also wheelchair-accessible and has a shade shelter and toilets. This is also the starting point of the Malleefowl Walk, a 1.5km loop trail that gives you even more scenic views.
Visit this spot at sunset. It will be one you’ll never forget!
Hawks Head lookout
This is another stunning vantage point where you’ll see the expanse of the Murchison River gorge. Its name is derived from a hawk-shaped rock formation you can see from the lookout.
The Hawks Head lookout is a short 200m walk from the car park and wheelchair accessible. There’s a picnic area as well.
Other attractions near Kalbarri’s Gorges
A stone’s throw away from Kalbarri’s majestic gorges, you’ll find more attractions to keep your adventure going:
Want more ideas? Here’s a list of free things to do in Kalbarri.
If you want to do any of the walking trails mentioned above, it’s crucial to prepare properly. Most of them have little to no shade, so bring sunscreen and a hat.
Also, keep in mind that the temperature within the gorge can be higher than expected. Bring plenty of water!
That’s why it may be best to do any of Kalbarri’s walks during the cooler months (May-October). This also coincides with wildflower season and whale migration, so you’ll be in for the treat of a lifetime.
Did you know?
The magic of Kalbarri isn’t confined to its landscapes. This region is incredibly rich in indigenous history.
The local Nanda people’s ancestral stories and traditions breathe life into the land. From the creation of the Murchison River to the Dreamtime lore of the Rainbow Serpent, every rock and river has a tale to tell.
Where is Murchison Gorge?
Murchison Gorge is in Kalbarri National Park, next to the Coral Coast of Western Australia. It’s a 6-7 hour drive north from Perth.
Can you swim in the river at Kalbarri?
Yes, you can safely swim in the river at Kalbarri – the Murchison River.
How were the Kalbarri gorges formed?
Kalbarri gorges were formed after the persistent flow of the Murchison River over the last 400 million years.
The bottom line
The Kalbarri gorges – Eagle and Murchison River gorges – are truly unique. One offers the most stunning coastal views you could ever dream of. The other gives you an expansive rugged landscape that explodes with colour during wildlife season.
Both are a must-stop during your visit to the region. Take your time to explore them, on your own or through one of the many tours offered in Kalbarri!
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