Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with bleak and barren. But we saw quite a lot of it on the North Coastal Highway driving south from Denham. Then we turned right onto the Ajana Kalbarri road and very soon found a signpost with a camera - which as every tourist knows - indicates a photo opportunity. Quite frankly it didn't look promising. The highway was flanked by shrubs and there were no mountains at all.
We stopped and peered over the surrounding shrubbery and were astounded by the splash of colour that greeted us. Acres and acres of purple.
We later found out that the purple mass was Pink Morrison ...ok, so it was pinkish sort of purple. But there were more varieties of flowers everywhere we looked. What a change, in just a few kilometres.
Eventually, after repeated stops, we arrived at Kalbarri and took stock of what we wanted to see. The really big attractions; Eagle Rock, Natures Window and Z-Bend were only accessible by 4WD but there were a few historic sites and some wildflower reserves within driving range. However we discovered that Jan and Joe, whom we had first met at the Monkey Mia dolphin display, were staying at the same site and they offered to take us to see the off road sights in their vehicle next day. Thanks Jan and Joe, a great offer.
The Ross Graham Lookout
Even the route there was part of the pleasure. We had numerous stops ...no more than that ...Joe spent some of the time standing up through the sun roof with his video camera, the rest of us just hopped out every few yards and took stills. This view is just a bit of context with the trusty 4WD.
Jan and Joe at Z-Bend.
This is a sample of the glorious richly coloured and wonderfully textured rock formations.
Pictured at Nature's Window. Joe became camera man to endless groups of young backpackers after this shot.
River Gorges galore.
...and yet more wall to wall Pink Morrison. (it's purple really)
Grass Trees are fairly common. Unusual in their appearance, they have a sort of pre-historic charm.
Just a few yards from the camp site, local volunteers host a pelican feeding and information event most mornings at around 8am. Next morning we were with quite a large crowd to see the spectacle. Some of us were trusted to throw the odd fish or two...
...and whilst Pelicans were the stars of the show, there were several opportunists just hovering around - and meeting with some success. A gull stole the fish Liz was offering to the pelicans straight from her hand with a fast dive and a faster getaway.
Setting out once again with Jan and Joe, we tackled another direction and a new collection of beauty spots. At an impromptu wildflower photo-shoot just five minutes into our journey, we disturbed a 'roo. A disappearing back view, I know, but isn't the grace in the sweep of that tail so elegant.
We drove to the southern end of the Coastal Kalbarri National Park to Island Rock.
Then gradually retraced our steps visiting several wonderful vantage points. From on high we watched a pod of dolphins making their way south and a whale spout further out to sea.
One of many breathtaking cliff views.
A photo-call at a cliff edge. It looks pretty tame here, but from where we stood it seemed a long way down!
Well, thanks to Jan and Joe for sharing the ride. The sign below warns us saloon car drivers when to back off, so we would have seen a lot less without their help.
Time to move on and our road out took us past a monument which recalls a fairly horrendous period in the regions early European history. It involves a sailing vessel named the Batavia in the year 1629, a ship-wreck and a mutinous band of men. Not a bedtime story for the under-fives, but if you're interested try clicking onto this link.