Western Australia National Parks
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Published by TOP4 Team
The immense spaces of Western Australia include great swathes of unvarying country of little obvious interest, but there are also any number of landscapes well deserving of their national park or special interest designation.
The southwest. Facing the meeting point of Southern and Indian Oceans, the southwest of the state enjoys a reasonably high rainfall which favours the growth of magnificent forests, notably of the karri tree. In the southwest, these include the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges, the Boranup Forest in the Margaret River area and the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, a coastal park beautifully sited around the Nornalup Inlet, where deep rivers wind seawards through health-covered dunes.
Battered by breakers, these southwestern coasts have a rugged quality, well exemplified in the wild cliffs and rocky shoreline of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. On the shoreline, further north resorts mix with wildlife-rich lagoons and lakes, as at Yalgorup National Park. The backdrop to the coastal plain is formed by the escarpment of the Darling Range, whose jarrah woods and bushland make a useful playground for Perth weekenders. The jarra (a eucalyptus) is one of the characteristic trees of the southwest, mush logged on the past and sawn up for railway sleepers. The range is accessible at John Forrest National Park east of Perth, or Lane Pool on the Murray River, to Marrinup and Pinjarra.
One of the privileges of life in Perth is easy access to unspoilt nature. Only 35km out of the city to the northeast is Walyunga National Park, an area of wild bushland where the Swan and Avon Rivers have cut through the Darling Range. Equally near the city, but due north, is Yanchep National Park where the bush is home to honey possums, kangaroos and bandicoots, and there are a loch and limestone caves to be explored. Few sights are as compelling as the countless limestone pillars known as The Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park.
The northwest. There is a great contrast of natural landscapes in the vast northwest. Some of the most stunning scenery is on the coast. Among the inlets and peninsulas of Shark Bay is unique Shell Beach, 60 km long and built up of a 10m depth of crushed and compacted shells. The north West Cape has twin parks of outstanding interest. To the east are the parched plateau and deep rocky gorges of the Cape Range National Park, descending to the west through fossil reefs and sand dunes to Australia’s ‘other’ barrier reef, the Ningaloo Marine Park, 260 km of coral reef sheltering a shallow lagoon. Running inland from the tidal flats and mangrove swamps of the coast is the Pilbara, a spectacular upland deeply incised by river valleys and culminating in the vividly coloured gorges of the Hamersley Range National Park.
Between the Pilbara and the Kimberley, the Great Sandy Desert claims part of the coastline. Where it merges with the Little Sandy Desert, far inland, are the salt lakes of the Rudall River National Park, accessible only to the well-equipped.