Kalbarri

We only intended to stay 1 night but spent 3 in this hidden treasure of Western Australia.

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There is something for everyone, here, including fishing, as the man on Chinaman’s Point in the picture above shows. Huge waves crashed against his favourite spot and we had been warned about the currents at that opening, so it appeared Kalbarri had its share of adventure-seekers. But let me outline the more sedate experiences we undertook.

Arriving in the afternoon, we made our way to the caravan park then dashed out to see Natural Bridge, Red Bluff, Blue Holes and Shell House Grandstand, all accessible from the main road and then boardwalks. The coastline was dramatic and latticed. You could see why early Dutch explorers thought it uninhabitable.

The next day took us to Nature’s Window and Z-Bend in Kalbarri National Park. Now, there is a very long stretch of corrugated dirt road, so if you have a regular 2-wheel drive like us, you might have the same arguments about how best to get through it. For the record, the best way is to travel about 80km/hr, so you skim over the top of the bumps. If you have a motor home DO NOT ATTEMPT the road unless you have a system for bolting down your crockery. We met people whose crockery lay smashed on the ground, they didn’t know how far it was to go and had to turn back, knowing more destruction was likely.

The views are worth it, even when it is around 35C. You are warned to take 3L of water if you intend walking the loop, as it can get up to 50C in the gorge.

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The latticed rocks and layers of colourful sediment are impressive and while wondering why Z-Bend was called that, we spotted a white dot in the distance and zoomed in as far as we could to catch a goat, perched on the ridge.

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But wait! There’s more. While there, we spotted a goanna and directed a number of international tourists to the creature, that put on quite a display and was about a meter long. We also marvelled at the flowers produced by such barren soil.

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Later that day, we headed back to the coast for a look at Chinaman’s Beach, from the top and the shoreline, and Rainbow Jungle – an exotic bird sanctuary.  There are tales to be read of the Zuytdorp shipwreck, after which the cliffs are named and you’ll see gorgeous birds and flora.

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On our last day, we took in more of the coastal drives and walks, completing Mushroom Rock Loop and visiting Pot Alley and Eagle Gorge. The visitor centre has maps and information detailing the walks and some stops had signs up. The pipe rocks were pretty amazing – I haven’t seen them anywhere else.

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We finished the day with a sunset river cruise, where we learned a great deal about the demise of the cray fishermen and saw some riverbank scenery. It was inexpensive, but a little repetitive.

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A memorable place. There are diving activities, quad bike adventures, canoeing, absailing…something for everyone. Good access to a supermarket, playground, take-away and visitor centre. What are you waiting for?

Take a hat, water bottles and good walking shoes. Let me know if you have any questions about this area or somewhere else in Australia.

Safe travels.

Gawler

Approximately 50km north of Adelaide, in South Australia, lies the town of Gawler. Established in 1836, it was the only other town planned by Col. William Light (the other being Adelaide, the capital city of SA). Unlike the square plan of the capital, however, the city of Gawler has a triangular centre.

 

Arriving by train, my brother and I decided to do one of the walks available from the visitor centre, and ended up doing a mix of the Cultural Walk and the Church Hill Walk. The whole thing took us 2 hours, including a half hour lunch by the river and  a dash to the train for our return journey. There are many places to eat, but I can recommend Cafe on Jacob, with its homemade fare and warm atmosphere.

If one of Adelaide’s titles is ‘City of Churches’, then Gawler is a mini city. Church Hill has four churches, positioned almost squarely, and the history was very interesting, representing not only differences in faith but often language and trade.  Gawler was surrounded by mining, farming and industry. The lovely buildings and cottages nearby don’t all face the centres of worship, but it is impossible to walk the area and miss any. The old convent is near the Catholic Church and would make a great scene for a movie.

There is some very nice architecture, quaint buildings and, generally, a pleasant ambiance. The history on plaques or in the walking guides required a bit of reading time, but was well worth it.

The main street has altered over the years, with some of the charm of a big country town lost with progress. There remains many delightful buildings and it is still a point through which travellers make their way to the famous Barossa or Clare Valleys. Very decent hotels, cafes, bakeries and parks add to the value of a visit here. There are supermarkets, a cinema, outdoor pool and caravan park, all within easy reach of the train station so if you have to dash to get home it isn’t far. The one hour (approx) train journey from Adelaide will take you through suburbs, farmland and industry, as well as past schools, the football oval and the heritage Gawler train station. You actually get off at Gawler Central which is the last stop on the line.

Visit the Information Centre for maps, or go online to download them earlier. The original owners, the Kaurna (pronounced Garna) people, are located along the Adelaide plains and lived in the Gawler area for at least 40 000 years.

The river has flooded, with water lapping over the bridges in 1992, which is a lot of water, but generally it is a dry area.

Head off from here to Whispering Wall or one of the major wine regions. A very pleasant day trip.

Take water, hat and camera.

Safe travels.