Australia’s first Europeans – The Batavia Coast

The British colonised Australia first, there is no doubt about that, but were they really the first Europeans to live in Australia, or were they just the first to land on the fertile grounds of the East Coast. We learned about some other possibilities as we explored the Batavia Coast.

From the eccentricities of Hutt River, we arrived at the beautiful Kalbarri, eager to have a nice relaxing coastal break for several days. We weren’t disappointed. Kalbarri is set on a beautiful estuary, where the 700 km Murchison River flow into the Indian Ocean. As we expected for the landscape north of Perth, the land is dry and arid, but the coastline is beautiful. While we visited, it was also surprisingly calm, which makes the phenomenon of the Batavia Coast a little difficult to picture.

Along this stretch of coast there were 4 known shipwrecks of Dutch ships in the 16th and early 17th centuries, including the Batavia where some of the crew executed a previously planned mutiny. They were finally defeated and two of the mutineers were marooned on the Western Australia coast,

Anyway Red Bluff, just south of Kalbarri, is possibly the landing point of the first true Europeans to live in Australia. These two characters possibly interbred with the local aboriginal tribes. Being of Dutch heritage myself, I’m kind of interested that we are one up on the POMs, even though we landed on the wrong coast. I also have to point out that as of 2006, I officially became a POM, and so now my loyalties are divided.

Local history aside, Kalbarri is a fabulous beach holiday destination. It is a tourist town, and there is just so much to do here for people and families of all ages.

The biggest highlight for us was Kalbarri National Park, and having the opportunity to canoe the Murchison River that flows through the park. Further upstream, the river has created some spectacular gorges and rock formations in the red and orange rocks. This includes Natures Window, which is one of the most interesting natural rock formations I have ever seen, not to mention a brilliant photo opportunity. We spend a good deal of time walking the shorter walks along coastline and along inland gorges to take in the unique scenery and ambience of the area.

One of our days there we decided to take in the scenery from a different perspective and went on a canoe trip with Kalbarri Wilderness Canoeing. During the trip we were able to get off the main tourist track for a while, and explore the National Park further downstream to observe a different landscape again, while having an amazing time canoeing and enjoying time together as a family. Even the kids loved this experience. This canoe trip was such a great day out; I have written a separate post about it. Click here to read all about our adventure canoeing on the Murchison River.

Another fun family outing was at Rainbow Jungle. They have a very large collection of difference species of parrots, focusing mainly on Australian species, but also including some rare and endangered foreign species. They have a very successful breeding program, especially for endangered parrots such as the scarlet McCaw and blue-yellow McCaw. The centre also boasts the largest parrot free-flight aviary in Australia.
Apart from the parrots, a lot of care and attention has gone into providing a lush and tropical environment for both the fauna and visitors alike. If you wanted, you could just sit in the aviary, or by the tropical garden, fish pool or waterfall and take in the peace and atmosphere of the place. We just couldn’t believe the abundance of different species were available to view, and they make a huge effort to ensure breeding keeps the species as pure as possible. This is especially important from a biodiversity perspective when dealing with endangered birds. To find out more about Rainbow Jungle, and to visit their website, click here.

One of our last stops for Kalbarri was the local and friendly Kalbarri Playgroup. The kids and I had a morning of fun before we had to pack up the caravan again and move on. Of course, playgroup tuckered out the kids, so they slept well during the afternoon drive.

While we were at Playgroup, Mike got a morning to himself quad biking in the National Park. He has written about this in his latest post on Mike’s page.

Our Batavia Coast adventures have now ended. Our trip takes on a new dimension as we head into the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay.


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