Day 100! A milestone in our journey. A relatively short 160km up the road (time enough for just one chapter of Stephen Fry’s Harry Potter on audio book) and we’d made it to Kalbarri. We were forewarned that there would be flies to greet us and there was – thousands of them. After looking at our accommodation options at the Tourist Info Centre we decided to go bush and stay at Murchison River Station as it was closest to Kalbarri NP. Murchison River Station is a working station that was once over 1,000,000 hectares (now a measly 200,000 ha). The first thing that greets you at the gate is an armoured vehicle, complete with gun turret aimed at the gate!
The next bit of WW2 memorabilia is an enormous tracked amphibious troupe transport outside the shearers quarters, courtesy of one Turkish born cum Indian; Prince Mukarram Jah, the eighth and last ruler of Hyderabad. Reputed to be worth 2,000 million dollars in 1967 dollars (perhaps Rupees?) . In 1995, after just a few years, the cash was all gone, as was his Australian dream. The current owners have been here since 1997 and were delightful.
After setting up and killing as many flies as possible, we donned mesh fly hats (the lovely black mesh things covering our faces in all the photos) – I gave in after one flew into my ear – and headed out to watch the sunset at ‘natures window’, a beautiful sandstone ‘window’ framing the Murchison River in Kalbarri NP and it’s most iconic formation.
The next morning we packed snacks and water and headed out nice and early to the NP gate to catch a canyon canoe tour. We parked the Cruiser in the bush and jumped in a battered and horribly ‘pinstriped’ 4WD truck to get as close to the gorges as possible.
It was a low range crawl the whole way, but tons of fun being bounced around with the other tourists in the truck. The walk down to the gorge was lovely, with the usual commentary on geology, flooding cycles and an explanation of why the river was a murky brown (apparently it’s normally clear).
After ditching shoes (Kris and I were testing our new boots, picked up at a Kathmandu Easter sale in Perth), we all jumped in canoes and headed about 2 km down river. The 400 million year old gorge here is stunning, and with the exception of the murky water, the day was perfect. Our only surprise was the very limited wildlife. After a dip in the cold river and some cake, we walked out through a narrow gorge, much steeper and more visually impressive than the one on the way in.
That afternoon, whilst Kris did some computer and internet stuff the boys and I spent two fruitless hours attempting to catch fish. We also used the excellent 3G reception in town to check on news from home, as the devastating storms were lashing Newcastle and Sydney. That night, with nothing to do but wait to see if our place back home had drowned, we ate an excellent slow cooked stew, mopped up with fire baked damper.
The next morning it was back out to the NP this time to enjoy Z bend lookout and another walk down to the river via a steep gully. Again spectacular despite the muddy water and flies.
After lunch back at the van we all trooped to the library to make use of their fly free space to get some more computer stuff done while the boys enjoyed some new books to look at for a while.