Aptly named, Red Bluff at Kalbarri is a rocky headland that protrudes out over the great Indian Ocean. Its white sandy beach contrasts with the dramatic rust-coloured cliffs which become even richer in colour in the early morning and just before the sun sets over the ocean. Red Bluff is a popular destination for swimming, surfing, snorkelling, diving, and fishing.
Located 30 kilometres north of Carnarvon, Red Bluff is part of a working sheep and cattle station called Quobba. The impressive Quobba coastline spans over 160 kilometres, with the spectacular coastal cliffs extending 13 kilometres through Kalbarri National Park. In humpback whale season you can watch these migratory giants passing through from atop the 100-metre-high Red Bluff Lookout.
Kalbarri is the land of the Nanda Aboriginals, known as the saltwater people. The rocks of Red Bluff are believed to be over 400 million years old. Red Bluff was given its name by Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh in 1697.
Just north of Red Bluff is Wittecarra Creek, said to be the location of the first permanent landing of Europeans in Australia. In 1629 the Batavia, a Dutch East India trading vessel ran aground in the Abrolhos Islands, southwest of Kalbarri. Survivors scrambled off in boats, on flotsam and by swimming to nearby islands.
After the shipwreck, a small band of mutineers murdered 125 of the surviving men, women, and children. Most of the ringleaders were eventually executed, but two, Wouter Loos and 18-year-old cabin boy Jan Pelgrom de Bye were put ashore near the mouth of Wittecarra Creek. What happened to them remains a mystery, though some believe they were taken in by the Nanda people.
There is much to explore around Red Bluff. Mushroom Rock Trail is a stunning track where you can meander for a leisurely two hours along Kalbarri's Coastal Cliffs leading to the strange, but appropriately named Mushroom Rock caused by water and strong winds eroding the rock over thousands of years.
The trail also takes you to the striking Rainbow Valley Gorge where the ocean waves crash against its red cliffs. Another site is Rainbow Valley where sand, silt and minerals have layered, compacted, and weathered to form a colourful spectacle set in stone. The area gets its name as rainbows can often be spotted in the ocean mist.
Pot Alley is a picturesque ocean gorge not far from Red Bluff. The walk along the cliffs offers spectacular views over the ocean through the rugged gorges. If you visit Kalbarri in late July you’ll see the beautiful wildflowers in bloom including the rare Kalbarri spider orchid.
From the northernmost coastal lookouts, you can get fantastic views south along the sandstone cliffs and north beyond the Kalbarri to the 200-kilometre stretch of the Zuytdorp Cliffs.
Red Bluff Beach is popular not just for its rust-red cliffs, but for its snorkelling, swimming, surfing, and diving. Not all the surrounding areas are safe for swimming though so be sure to adhere to the signs.
Western Australia is world-renowned for having some of the best vantage points for whale watching. The best months to see humpbacks, southern rights, and blue whales travel along the WA coast are between May and December. Red Bluff is the ideal place to see humpback whales which migrate along the Kalbarri coastline, often coming close enough to the shore that you can easily spot them.
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