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On Walkabout Along: The Batavia Coast of Western Australia

Geraldton and Beyond
The city of Geraldton lies about 8 hours north of Perth and is the major city in central coastal region of Western Australia. Geraldton is known as the Sun City and famous across Australia for it’s excellent wind surfing conditions. Driving into the city it is quite evident that a lot of money resides in this city as well with it’s many large and beautiful beach side homes that line the highway into town. The downtown area of the city is also quite nice and is cap-stoned by the beautiful St. Francis-Xavier Cathedral which was built by Spanish monks in 1916.

The city is also well known for an infamous episode in early Australian history, the marooning and mutiny of the Batavia on the Houtman Abrolhos islands just off the coast of Geraldton in 1628. This incident is what has given this area of Australia the name, the Batavia Coast.


Replica of the Batavia

After leaving Geraldton we continued driving north to reach our next destination, Kalbarri National Park. When driving to Kalbarri I recommend entering the park by taking the turn off from the city of Northhampton that takes you to a small country road that leads to the southern entry point of the park. From Northhampton it takes about two hours to reach Kalbarri. The first hour of the drive features nothing but rolling farm land. After passing through the farm land you will reach the town of Port Gregory.

Port Gregory is probably lucky to have 100 people living in it, but it does have a few nice beach homes there, a general store, and one caravan park that sells extremely expensive gasoline. The most memorable thing about Port Gregory is the large Pink Lake that borders the city to the east. Apparently just enough ocean water comes in on high tide and gets trapped in the flood plain to chemically react with the desert ground to cause the water to turn a bright pink:

Kalbarri Pink Lake

Coastline of Kalbarri National Park
From what I was told at Port Gregory, a local company actually extracts some kind of dietary supplement from the chemical reaction between the salt water and the desert. Anyway we continued driving north and 45 minutes later the road was hugging the coastline and we entered the boundaries of Kalbarri National Park. The southern section of the park is most well known for it’s spectacular coastal scenery:

Kalbarri Coast 4

Kalbarri Coast 3

There are multiple turn offs along the road that lead to hiking trails where you can get some great view points of the crashing waves. During the fall and spring the coastal cliffs are also well known as being a great place to spot migrating whales:

Kalbarri Coast 2

Kalbarri Coast 1

Here at these cliffs I can only imagine the difficulties early explorers had when they happened upon Australia. The Dutch were the first to discover the west coast of Australia when ships went off course during their transits across the Indian Ocean to the Dutch East Indies. As you can see from these pictures much of the West Australian coast line in this area is extremely rugged and have claimed many ships over the years.

The early Dutchmen who were able to land, mounted expeditions into the Australian interior but reported finding nothing of any substance to warrant any further exploring. The coastal outback is extremely arid and desolate and the only plant life that can survive is small bushes; there are no trees. The coastal outback is more desolate than the interior outback due to the lack of an underground aquafier that plant life such as trees in the interior outback draw upon to sustain life.

The City of Kalbarri
Just a short drive north of the coastal area of Kalbarri we reached the actual city of Kalbarri. Kalbarri is located on the mouth of the Murchison River. The Murchison River is a large river by Australian standards and is constantly filled with flowing water. This is a remarkable sight after driving hundreds of miles through some of the world’s most desolate terrain. It really is amazing to see this much water in the middle of the outback. We found Kalbarri to be quite a nice city with all the facilities needed for a great holiday. Most of the hotels and caravan parks are located either right across the street or a short walk from the beach. The visitor center was excellent, and from there you can sign up for the various tours such as kayaking, hiking, 4×4, and bus tours:

City of Kalbarri

There are numerous caravan parks in town and I’m glad we checked in early because they fill up quick due to the popularity of the town. We set up camp and the wife cooked up some great BBQ before we got some sleep in preparation of hitting the trails in Kalbarri National Park the next morning.

Next Posting: Kalbarri National Park

Prior Posting: The Pinnacles Desert

Return to the Western Australia Holiday Journal Archive

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