I’ve spent a lot of my life in Australia, not as much as I would like, but plenty. The nation and continent is vast and covers a huge range of habitat types. But that said, saying and thinking of Australia evokes the image of one habitat type in particular, but it’s the one I’ve explored the least. The Outback, the bush, the red centre.

Blue skies, a mostly dried up river, and red rocks!

Kalbarri National Park, six hours north of Perth, really feels like that quintessentially Australian outback. Bright red rocks, great gum trees, and stark blue skies. It is close to the small town of the same name on the coast of the Indian Ocean, it was our first stop on a nearly 2000 km trip north from Perth, and while it didn’t hold many birds, it certainly provided scenery in abundance.

The seasonal Kalbarri River cuts a deep gorge through the park

After climbing down the steep sides of the gorge our tour followed the pools that are all that is left of the river when its dry

One of the larger billabongs is 3 km long

Which means you can kayak along! We didn’t see much wildlife but there were Red Kangaroos, Willy Wagtails and an Australian Darter 

After the kayak you can go for a swim! No crocs here.

Getting out is an adventure!

The view from above

Acorn Banksia (Banksia prionotes) is a common plant in the park

Kalbarri itself has a few interesting birds, if you’re desperate for some. I got my lifer Australian Ringneck in the little park and saw them several times. It is also home to Pacific Gulls and about twenty million flies, although as we learnt on the trip, this isn’t unusual in West Australia.


Written by Duncan
Duncan Wright is a Wellington-based ornithologist working on the evolution of New Zealand's birds. He's previously poked albatrosses with sticks in Hawaii, provided target practice for gulls in California, chased monkeys up and down hills Uganda, wrestled sharks in the Bahamas and played God with grasshopper genetics in Namibia. He came into studying birds rather later in life, and could quit any time he wants to.