Trip 25, part 5 – Murchison House Station, Kalbarri

Leaving Gladstone Bay, Saturday 15/8, it was a leisurely 300km drive, made even more leisurely by the stupid number of caravans and motorhomes heading in both directions.  We got stuck behind a cavalcade of five vans, so decided ‘when in Rome’ and sat on the end of the 90kph procession.

As we came into the Kalbarri National Park we could see dark rain clouds setting up over the ocean, so we checked into the Murchison House Station and quickly set the van up.  As the raindrops arrived, so did Barry and Linda so we helped them setup and then settled into a wet and somewhat windy night in the van (not that we got wet or anything).

Our riverside campsite at Murchison House Station
One of the goats in their pen that adjoins the camp area

Sunday dawned pretty bleak with intermittent showers interspersed with heavier falls but unperturbed, Jules and I set off to explore Kalbarri, first following a 4wd track up the Murchison River through the park and varied wildflowers on display.

Short-Leaved Starflower wildflower in Kalbarri National Park
Wild Rose wildflower in Kalbarri National Park
Spreading Coneflower, wildflowers in Kalbarri National Park
Looking out to one of the hills towards the Murchison River on the 4wd track we followed
An old car we spotted rusting away in a muddy side tributary of the Murchison River

All that wildflower spotting and 4wd’ing makes a person hungry so we looped back into town and scoffed down a fabulous homemade sausage roll and good coffee, whilst overlooking the rough swell smashing the river mouth.

We then proceeded South, down the coast checking out the various beach accesses and lookouts, ending up about 70kms South at Port Gregory.  Coming into Port Gregory you pass the Hutt Lagoon and the famous Pink Lake which is made pink by the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina.  Unfortunately, the wind and overcast day made viewing the Pink Lake a little underwhelming but we did manage to get a shot which showed the colours.

A cropped shot of one of the rollers hitting the beach just South of the town
A shot taken at Mushroom Rock

The Pink Lake, part of the Hutt Lagoon

By the time we’d made it back to camp in Kalbarri, BJ and Rod had arrived and setup, so we spent the rest of the arvo and evening catching up, exchanging tales and laughing.

Monday 15/8 and we had hoped to explore the many 4wd tracks North of the Murchison River which are still within the boundaries of the Murchison House Station.  However, the 20mm of rain overnight put a stop to that as most of the tracks were boggy or closed due to the risk of getting stuck out there.  So, plans flipped to a kayaking day and BJ, Barry, Rod, Jules and I kayaked from the homestead, literally starting out front of our van, the 19kms downriver to the townsite of Kalbarri.  At the homestead the river is muddy and silty from all the recent rains and runoff but as we approached Castle Rock, the water cleaned up with the tidal influence and the boys managed to rustle up, and release, a few Black Bream.  The paddle down the river was lovely, alternating between rocky sections in the gorge walls, through to open farmland and tree lined banks.  We saw plenty of birds on the paddle down including Variegated Fairywren, Ospreys, Spoonbills and others.  Unfortunately, as we were kayaking I didn’t risk taking my camera, so we don’t have any pics from our paddle down the river.

Jules and I spent Tuesday visiting the Kalbarri National Park, doing the new Skywalk which was fantastic and worth every cent of the $15 per vehicle park entry fee, followed by Natures Window and the Z-Bend.  We then decided to skip the Hawks Head lookout and opted instead to head into Kalbarri where we had a pizza and pint at the pub whilst looking out over the river mouth.

The view from the new Skywalk
Looking back at Western Skywalk from the other one

Jules on the Skywalk

A nice little view just before Natures Window

The famous Natures Window view

Looking down the Eastern side of the rock face aside Natures Window, into the gorge

Wildflowers in Kalbarri National Park, near Natures Window

Pink Poker, wildflowers in Kalbarri National Park, near the Z-Bend

One side of the Z-Bend view

Starflowers wildflowers shot on the track into Murchison House Station

Wildflowers shot on the track into Murchison House Station

Wildflowers shot on the track into Murchison House Station

Wildflowers shot on the track into Murchison House Station

A Cowslip Orchid found on the track into Murchison House Station

Wednesday opened relatively sunny and so we decided it was 4wd day.  Jules, Rod, BJ and I jumped in Gwavin our Ranger and headed North over the Murchison River at the Homestead bridge and spent the day exploring the many tracks, sometimes goat trails, that covered the station.  Our first route followed the Murchison River upriver to the Wilgiamia Pool, a lovely spot on the river with some fantastic sandstone rock features.  Interestingly Jules noted that we were only about 2kms as the crow flies from Natures Window, further upstream and within the national park. 

A nice river side view along the 4wd track

A lovely little waterfall we came across

The heavily signposted entrance to the station at Bettys Crossing on the Murchison River, upstream of the Homestead

The rock wall at Wilgiamia Pool

Some of the fantastic colours and shapes of the sandstone rock wall at Wilgiamia Pool

Some of the fantastic colours and shapes of the sandstone rock wall at Wilgiamia Pool

Some of the fantastic colours and shapes of the sandstone rock wall at Wilgiamia Pool

Jules checking out the view with the binos at Wilgiamia Pool

From Wilgiamia Pool, we then headed West towards the coast before eventually finding ourselves on a track that ultimately lead to the infamous ‘jump up’ which we were warned was steep and very slippery and that we should not attempt it…  Unfortunately, the track we followed in didn’t have any alternative routes, but fortunately we were doing it as a descent rather than an ascent, so we engaged low range and hill descent mode and slowly trundled down with no issues. 

Gwavin on the track

A nice track leading through the flowers

A hill with tree and flowers on the station

A Wedge Tail Eagle surveying his domain

One of the many great views we came across on our drive

One of the many great views we came across on our drive

A Pallid Cuckoo

A Banded Lapwing with two of her chicks (behind her).  Her mate and another two chicks are outside the frame of this pic.

One of the many great views we came across on our drive

A windmill and flowers

Another shot of Gwavin looking great, albeit a little dirty, on the track

A composition of two pics of my first sighting and photographs of a Mistletoe Bird.  This shot was literally taken from the door of our van, when I saw a flash of red, grabbed the camera and shot expecting to have photographed a Robin Redbreast.

The boys decided to chase Black Bream early on Thursday morning, but Jules and I opted for a sleep in and then spent a couple of hours exploring the river downstream of the Homestead, finding plenty of bees and birds to photograph.  As Thursday was our last full day at the Homestead we finished it off in style with a roaring campfire.

A Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo loitering above our campsite and giving me the hairy eyeball

One of many native and heavily pollen laden Blue Banded Bees about to land and disappear down its burrow

A hive of bees we found in the cliff face

A Peaceful Dove who was piping out his call

A Rufus Whistler perched in the trees

A pair of Port Lincoln Parrots checking out a new nesting hole

A Brown Goshawk which I managed to get a quick, but blurry shot of before it took off

The beautiful flower of the Acorn Banksia

A Grey Fantail who seemed to show off in front of the camera

A Striated Pardalote which was a funny story.  At the start of our trip I’d read about these little birds on an info board somewhere and we liked the name so much the “Striated Pardalote” became the catch cry and name of every bird we saw on our trip.  However, on our last day at Murchison Station we were chatting to Linda when I saw a little bird in the tree outside of our van, I grabbed the camera and shot and ended up with our pic and first sighting of a “Striated Pardalote”!

The day finally came, Friday the day we all started heading home, that is except BJ who as a bloody retiree was going to spend another few days with other friends in Port Gregory.  Baz, Linda and Rod all decided to shoot straight home, however, Jules and I wanted to make the most of our last couple days of leave and we headed South to Northampton, through to Nabawa, up to Yuna and finally through to Canna where we camped at a freecamp amongst the Everlastings and Orchids.  We’re heading home to civilisation, the kids, dog and work on Monday tomorrow, Saturday 21/8. ☹

The demarcation of farm crops between Nabawa and Yuna

A field of Canola

A couple of Yellow Everlastings amongst a field of White ones at the Butterabby Graves

Part of the beautifully done memorial at the Butterabby Graves, a site of conflict back in 1864 between the pastoralists and Wajarri Aboriginals where two pastoralists were killed, following which five Aboriginal men were caught, trialled, found guilty and hung in the tree at the site.

Pink Candy Orchid, Canna

Velleia rosea, wildflower in Canna

Rosy-Cheeked Donkey Orchid, Canna

Donkey Orchids amongst the Paper Daisies, Canna

Dainty Blue Orchid, Canna

Dainty Blue Orchids, Canna

The flower of a Sundew, a carnivorous flower, Canna

Cowslip Orchid, Canna

Common Spider Orchid, Canna

Blue Beard Orchid, Canna

Climbing Fringe Lilly, Canna

Hairy-Stemmed Snail Orchid, Canna

A small wasp atop a Paper Daisy, Canna

Paper Daisies and wire, Canna

Paper Daisies, Canna

Small fly on a Paper Daisy, Canna

Clown Orchid, also known as an Ant Orchid, Canna

A small fly on a Paper Daisy, Canna

Our campsite at Canna, amongst the Everlasting Paper Daisies

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