I arrived at the Graham Overlook a few hours ago at the must see attraction, Kalbarri National Park.
Saying I was unimpressed is an understatement.
Just a shallow canyon with stagnant water below.I’m here, I might was well walk to the bottom of the canyon.A well constructed trail winds down to the canyon floor.Still I was unimpressed.At least the overlook was dedicated to someone, Mr. Graham, who loved the Kalbarri and was instrumental in gaining protection of a natural area.The park is an island surrounded by agricultural lands.
Ok, I’ll just check the other overlook – slightly better.
I found a way in to The Loop and Nature’s Window.Standing there on rock rim nearly three hundred metres above the streambed below I was mesmerized.For a few minutes I didn’t move – standing there watching the sun slowly settle towards the ocean to the west.The shadows from the cliffs gradually darkening the valley below.Kangaroos hopped around below until a herd of goats arrived forcing the native wildlife away.
Nature’s Window is a short walk away – I must walk out to see it.I arrived a few minutes before sunset – a little too late as my shadow insisted on centering itself between the camera and window.In the setting sun the vibrant reds came to life.Around me the cliffs turned orange and ivory, cream and green.The landscape itself seemed almost alive.Atop the canyon ridge itself was fossil water – ripple marks – captured in place as if the water had been there just the day before – not from an era past.
I returned to Nature’s Window early in the morning – hoping to capture a sunrise on the northeast facing cliffs.The loop trail provided an easy route down into the canyon.I was continually distracted; first by a kangaroo hopping along the colourful cliff ledges, then by a crimson robin.
Next a flock of emus and more fossil evidence of water long ago captured in numerous layers.One layer of rock had numerous raised ridges – it looked like the cast of the emu tracks I found in the mud.Then, there was a squiggle that looked like something had burrowed through the sand – except it was in solid rock.
Not being a geologist or paleontologist my creative mind was running rampant with imaginary actions that might have formed what I was seeing.I almost forgot about the cliffs themselves except for the perfect reflections which mirrored in the algae, green water.
Skipping breakfast turned out to be a poor choice.The walk I figured would take just and hour – maybe a little longer – lasted 3 ½ hours.
Next stop – Z Bend.
The parking area was filled with tour buses when I arrived.I walked down to the overlook.The view spellbound me.A deeply incised gorge lay before me.A fissure along the river’s left seemed to define the river’s course.The lookout itself was bound by two fissures, one spanned by a bridge to get to the lookout, with a sheer drop-off to the river below on its third side.
Wave after wave of people descended to the viewpoint.This canyon needed to be enjoyed in solitude.I scampered down the trail towards the water below – maybe this water will be clean enough to swim in.The trail gradually descended.Then it became steeper – a few drops had steps added.A clan of grey fantails accompanied me for a while – then the trail seemingly disappeared.It dropped into a fissure – walled on each side by sheer sandstone cliffs.The fissure itself was not much wider then my shoulders.I leaned against the wall – crack, crunch – that was the end of the sun shade for one of my lens.The trail culminated in a series of ladders over and down a rock fall.It was only a short distance more to the Murchison River.
Arriving at the river I debated scrambling downstream or walking upstream.Each direction equally beautiful – the water uninviting.Although flowing its surface carried island clumps of algal scum.The submerged rocks coated in a layer of easily dislodged algal scum.Still I came close to swimming but stopped at wading thigh deep.I didn’t want one of the clumps of scum to be united with my hair.
I chose to initially follow the ledges upstream and around the bend.Four hours later I arrived back at the trail out of the gorge, but I had to peek around the corner and see what was downstream.I scrambled over the boulders.Rounding the bend I again found myself spellbound.The setting sun perfectly illuminated the walls.The reds and oranges from the cliffs reflected in the pools.
I admired the view before me – considered scrambling further but it was late in the day.I quickly scrambled back up the trail to the lookout.Solitude had returned to the lookout.Alone I admired the changing faces of the gorge as the sun lowered to the horizon behind my back.
So enamored by the gorge – I almost failed to notice the fossil trackway just before the lookout.A twelve to fifteen centimeter wide trail is visible in one of the layers of rock just beside the trail.
Next time – I hope there is a next time with more time – I will hike the 20 kilometres from the Graham Overlook to Z Bend or maybe from Z Bend to Nature’s Window.I think the shuttle back from Nature’s Window might be simpler to arrange.
Don’t miss “Cathedral of the Kalbarri” at Z Bend.