FAMILY GUIDE TO KALBARRI
We recently took our first trip to Kalbarri (I mean finally convinced hubby that the drive was worth it!) which is around six hours drive North from Perth. Kalbarri is a perfect spot for a family holiday and an absolutely beautiful spot – from the gorges and river to the coastal cliffs, there is PLENTY to see and do. Here is our guide to Kalbarri with the family!
GETTING TO KALBARRI
From Perth it is around a six hour drive and a very easy route. Head down the Indian Ocean Drive until you hit the Brand Highway and follow the signs! We stopped for coffee and snacks in Jurien Bay along the way. Make sure you stop off at Hutt Lagoon, aka the Pink Lake in Port Gregory. Turn left at the Northampton turnoff on the Brand Highway and follow it until you see the signs for the Pink Lake. Absolutely amazing spot and a MUST SEE!
WHEN TO VISIT
Kalbarri has slightly different weather to that in Perth and is a much warmer climate. We went end of October and the weather was perfect, and luckily the flies weren’t too bad as yet!
DECEMBER – FEBRUARY
Warm temperatures with average daytime temps of 33 degrees celcius. Temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees however and over 50 degrees in the gorges – so if you are planning on lots of hiking this probably isn’t the best time to visit.
MARCH – MAY
The most popular time to visit Kalbarri thanks to the hot summer days, blue skies and little wind. Defnitley the most recommended time to visit for a family holdiday!
JUNE TO AUGUST
Perfect weather for hiking and wildflower viewing with temperatures around 22 degrees. Nature enthusiasts this is the best time for you to visit.
SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER
This is the perfect time to visit if you want to catch a glimpse of the migrating whales. With average daytime temperatures are around 26 degrees, and less tourists, it’s a great time for a holiday.
WHAT TO DO
VISIT THE GORGES AND HIKING TRAILS
There is many different gorges, lookouts and trails in Kalbarri and some are more family friendly than others. As we have a three year old, plus two older ones we chose to do the hikes which we knew they could cope with.
Natures Window is one of the most famous landmarks in Kalbarri and is only a 400m odd walk from the carpark making it suitable for all ages. A wind eroded “window” in the layered sandstone is where the name comes from, giving an amazing framed view of the gorge and river below. A great place to take the cliché family photo! The Loop trail goes on from there but being around 8kms we decided to give that trail a miss with the three kids.
I had many great memories of hiking down to the Z Bend gorges as a kid and just had to take my own kids down to experience it. The hike down to the River Trail was 2.6km return but there are lots of large rocks and steep descents along the way. It’s classed as a category 4 hike but my kids (even Jay who is 3), aswell as my 65 year old dad with knee problems found it fairly easy. There are also ladders to get down the really steep areas. Once you get to the bottom if you walk around to the left there is a great spot to swim with the kids. There wasn’t a huge amount of water in there, and it was super slippery but the kids had a great time cooling off from the walk down.
There is also a lookout area for those wanting to take in the views without the climb down to the bottom. Oh and watch for snakes in the warmer seasons, my kids were unlucky enough to have one slither out in front of them.
Four Ways Trail
Four ways is another one that’s probably best to tackle without the kids being around 6km return, but I am told its one of the most scenic trails to experience.
Ross Graham Lookout
The lookout here is only around 700m return from the carpark making it accessible for all ages, and offers some incredible views. For those wanting to head on down to the river its around 1.4km return and the views down the bottom are well worth it. Our kids had a little swim here and enjoyed climbing over the rocks around the river!
TAKE A DRIVE ALONG THE COASTAL CLIFFS
There are some beautiful lookouts along the coast in Kalbarri where you can stop just for the views or hike down further and explore the rocky coastline.
Red Bluff is a famous lookout area around 100m over the ocean and is a great spot to watch the migrating whales, and learn about the extensive history of the area with the signage.
Just before the turnoff to Red Bluff there is a great spot that takes you down to the water and you can wander around the rocks and explore the rock pools. Be sure to watch little ones here as rogue waves can easily come and sweep people off without them realising its coming!
The kids absolutely loved this spot. Wander down through the red cliffs to a secluded beach and rock pools. Again an absolute must to keep an eye on the tide and kids here as waves come crashing over the rocks and its probably not an ideal spot for swimming. You can wander for miles around these rocks and find something amazing around every corner!
Natural Bridge & Island Rock
Another famous landmark in Kalbarri is a must see for a great photo of the coastal cliffs and the natural bridge formation! The kids were so excited to see a huge pod of dolphins from the lookout.
TAKE THE KIDS KAYAKING AND CANOEING
The wind comes up really strong from around lunchtime every day in Kalbarri so I recommend getting out in the water as early as possible. If you don’t have your own kayaks you can hire boats, kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddle boards and more along Chinamans Beach. A stand up paddle board will set you back $20 for 1 hour while a 5 person boat around $60 per hour.
There are some fantastic tours you can take like Canoe the Gorges with Kalbarri Adventure Tours where you can explore normally inaccessible sections of the river by canoe. You can find all the tour and boat hire companies HERE. https://www.kalbarri.org.au/tours
RIDE A HORSE ALONG THE BEACH
I am kicking myself for not booking this tour as we watched them go past one day and it looked fantastic. There are two tour options available, a 1.5hr or a 2 hr with river crossing and you can book HERE. https://www.kalbarri.org.au/big-river-ranch
SPEND THE MORNING AT CHINAMANS BEACH
Chinamans Beach in the main town is a perfect spot to enjoy a day with the family. It’s a nice, calm area for little ones and you can hire everything from paddle boats, dingys, stand up paddle boards and kayaks on the beach. As most days the wind comes in from lunchtime so head out nice and early while its nice and calm. Oh and make sure you jump off the bottomless jetty!
We spent quite a bit of time fishing with the kids off the jetty outside the Kalbarri Beach Resort. We only managed to catch a few small bream that we threw back but the kids had a great time. There is tons of places to drop a line in either in the ocean or the Murchison River, or you can book a fishing tour HERE.
RIDE YOUR BIKES THROUGH THE TOWN
My kids loved riding their bikes through the main town and down to the playgrounds along the beach, especially in the late afternoons when the wind came up and it was a bit cool to swim.
HEAD TO THE RAINBOW JUNGLE
We ran out of time to get here (plus my little one isn’t that keen on birds!) but I have heard that it’s a great spot for the bird lovers! For a family of 4 it will cost around $70 for both the bird park and the maze. There is also an outdoor cinema where the kids can enjoy a movie and Mum & Dad a drink at the bar!
FEED THE PELICANS
Every morning from 8.45-9.30 the resident pelicans come to the shore for their “breakfast”. Get there early as the pelicans start wandering up to their location (Chinamans Beach) and will stand around waiting making it a great photo opportunity. The lady asked those who wanted to feed the pelicans to come up and line up and Max was the first to volunteer to throw a fish at them. Very cute and great for the little ones!
I did this tour with my hubby and dad on my birthday and I cannot recommend it enough. The guys were not only professional and friendly, but made you feel totally safe and comfortable. Honestly the best $90 I have ever spent! Scaling down 400million year old gorges and swimming in serene waterholes after was just pure magic. The tour is done at Z Bend and does require a bit of walking – not only down to the abseil area but up and down for your climbs. But my dad is 65 and handled it perfectly fine. You can book HERE.
There are many other tour options available like Quad Bike Safaris, Sunset Cruises and much more – There is something for everyone!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the Kalbarri Beach Resort in a two bedroom apartment and highly recommend it for families. I have written a full review which you can read here. It’s a great price and very well set out kids!
My parents stayed at the Anchorage Caravan Park with their caravan and had a great stay with views straight over the Murchison River. I was also told the Murchison Caravan Park is great aswell.
For those wanting to go a little more off grid, my parents spent a couple of nights at the Murchison House Station and loved the tranquillity and remote feeling of the park. You can book that one direct HERE and all the above accommodation, aswell as other parks and resorts HERE.
WHERE TO EAT
The IGA in the main town was, for a country town, very CHEAP! I was very surprised at how great the prices were here and we were able to find everything we needed.
For a great pie head to Shawnys Country Kitchen behind the Gilgai Tavern. The eggs benedict and thai green curry pies were DELICIOUS!
Dirt Dust and Diesel restaurant in the Kalbarri Beach Resort was fantastic and we had some great meals here. Highly recommend the Chicken Burger - you will struggle to get your mouth around it 🙂
We had an incredible time in Kalbarri. My 8 year old son especially, was blown away. He has a huge list of all the wildlife and animals he saw (including their brush with a snake) and was amazed at such a vast landscape. For those coming on holiday to Western Australia put Kalbarri and the Coral Coast on your list of places to see. And those already living here and keep putting off a visit because of the drive, GO! Our kids were fantastic and it was so worth the six hours in the car.
All opinions are 100% true and of our own.