Travelling back to Perth from Shark Bay, we stopped in at Kalbarri National Park.

click on map to magnify

Not having the luxury of time to attempt any of the hikes this park has to offer, we elected to visit the easily accessed lookouts on the Murchison River: Hawks Head and Ross Graham Lookouts.

click on map to magnify

A 200m walk from the car park takes you to a brand new lookout deck at Hawks Head, which offers the most spectacular view of the gorge cut by the mighty Murchison River.  Now, I can’t very well leave it at that.  You all know what’s coming now, don’t you? Yup, some rock chat… 😉

Murchison River from Hawks Head

The red rocks that dominate the cliffs on the right-hand side of the photo are the thick River Deposits, which overlie thinner beds of tidal-deposited sandstones and siltstones, and are whiter in colour.  These rocks form part of the Tumblagooda Sandstone and are about 450-480 million years old.

The ancestor of the present day Murchison River began to erode into these sandstones creating a wide, gentle valley until about 10 million years ago, when there was a period of uplift and the river began to carve the gorge as we see it today.

The viewing deck also offered a great place to spot kangaroos grazing on the opposite bank of the river.  It’s difficult to appreciate the scale of this place – these kangaroos were photographed with a 400mm lens and even with a close cropping of the photograph, they still look far away!

Kangaroo hiding out in the shade

ah, there you are!

The other lookout we visited was Ross Graham Lookout – a few kilometers away.

This spot was named after Ross Graham, the first headmaster of the local Kalbarri Primary School, who was an avid nature enthusiast.

We got to spot more kangaroos, and even a long-tailed lizard basking in the last of the afternoon heat.

...do I see a bump?

oh look! A (fuzzy) baby roo!!

Long-tailed lizard

Thinking about afternoon heat, I should probably mention just how warm it was here in the gorge, compared to the surrounding countryside.  Even in August (spring-time in Australia) it was a good 10C warmer in the gorge!  I daren’t think how much warmer it could get during the summer periods.  I think I remember somewhere mentioning ~50C!!  If you are tempted to go on long hikes through these gorges, either go in winter – or remember to take plenty of water with you and don’t forget sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat…

Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia – August, 2011

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