Z-Bend River Trail: Everything you need to know

Z Bend Lookout Trail Kalbarri
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Tackling the Z-Bend River Trail is a great way to experience the natural beauty and rugged landscapes of the Aussie outback!

This popular hiking trail is a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers looking for an adventure. The trail itself offers a mix of terrains and panoramic views of the Murchison River Gorge.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Z-Bend River Trail.

What is the Z-Bend River Trail?

The Z-Bend River Trail is a 2.6km return track that takes you down into the Murchison River Gorge in Kalbarri National Park. The trail gets its name from the sharp Z-shaped bends that the river has carved into the gorge, creating a gorgeous natural track for you to follow.

While the river trail is moderately challenging, the views that come from descending into the gorge, make the effort worth it! Plus you can enjoy a swim on the river once you reach the bottom. But if the track seems too far out of your comfort zone, there is a short 600-metre walk to the Z-Bend Lookout which also offers breathtaking views.

The Z-Bend area of the park also has toilet and barbecue facilities, so it is the perfect spot to spend the day.

Kalbarri Gorges

Where is the Z-Bend River Trail?

The Z-Bend River Trail is nestled in the beautiful Kalbarri National Park. It’ll take you about 30 minutes to get to the trail from Kalbarri town centre. To get there, you’ll need to follow Loop-Z Bend Road and turn off at Murchison Gorge Access Road. Once you arrive at the Z-Bend car park, the lookout is just a 600-metre walk.

The Kalbarri National Park is located on Nhanta Nation, the traditional Country of the Nhanta people.

What to do at the Z-Bend River Trail:

There is plenty to keep you entertained when you visit the Z-Bend River Trail. First off, make sure you’re kitted out for a good hike with comfy shoes, sun protection, and plenty of water. The first highlight of the trail is the Z-Bend Lookout, which is just 600 metres from the car park. The dramatic landscape, with its steep cliffs and winding river, offers a stunning backdrop for photos and a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of Kalbarri.

As you continue to hike down the trail, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the Murchison River Gorge. It is a moderately difficult hike, and you’ll have to climb over some boulders and down ladders to reach the bottom. But this is all part of the adventure. You’ll be treated to some amazing scenery as you make your descent into the gorge, so make sure you allocate time to stop for some obligatory snaps.

If you’re visiting during wildflower season (July-October) you’ll be wowed by the incredible native flora along the track. Keep your eyes peeled for the Kalbarri Spider flower species, which is only found in
the Kalbarri National Park.

Once you reach the gorge, you’ll want to spend some time cooling off in the calm waters of the Murchison River. Take advantage of the downtime because it’s all uphill to get back to the starting point of the track.

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Once you make your way back up the trail, spare some time to utilise the barbecue facilities and enjoy a picnic lunch while you take in the scenery – just make sure to clean up when you’re done.

Walk Trails Kalbarri

What not to do at the Z-Bend River Trail:

This trail is rated moderately hard, so understand your physical limits before you go. You’ll have to climb some steep paths and go up and down ladders along the trail. If this doesn’t suit your skill levels, consider tackling the Lookout Trail instead.

Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay an entry fee on your way into Kalbarri National Park. The cost is usually between $8-$15 per vehicle. There are also no pets in the park, so leave your fur babies at home.

As with all visits to our natural spaces, adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles: meaning don’t leave any rubbish out there, don’t pick wildflowers and try your best to look after the surrounding area. Respecting the environment and wildlife is crucial to preserving the natural beauty of the Z-Bend River Trail and Kalbarri National Park.

Image credit: Australia’s Coral Coast