The Pilbara region, in the North West of Australia
encompasses both a tropical coastline that stretches from Port Hedland
and the magnificent inland ranges called the Hamersley where deep gorges and spectacular cliffs abound. The rich Pilbara colours of fiery red, gold and the most brilliant blue sky is a photographer's delight. After rain the country turns green resulting in a spectacular show of wildflowers and a rapid increase in wildlife.
The region's major township is Port Hedland
, a town almost exclusively devoted to BHP's Iron Ore and mineral facilities. Visitors to Port Hedland
usually spend some time touring or watching these massive operations. Port Hedland
Harbour is always a hive of activity as huge vessels enter, turn, berth, load and restock millions of tons of ore daily.
202km west of Port Hedland
along the major bitumen highway lies the historic township of Roebourne and the entrance to a small peninsula to the north through Wickham, Cossack and Point Samson
. This tranquil seaside town is a popular beach retreat. Secluded beaches, coves and inlets are perfect for fishing and camping such as Honeymoon Cove and Cleaverville Beach.
Approximately 30km west of Roebourne is Karratha
, a major shopping and service centre. 20km north of Karratha
on the vast waterways of the Dampier
Archipelago lies the township of Dampier
. The 42 islands of the Archipelago feature historical shipwrecks, pristine white sandy beaches, aboriginal rock engravings and some of the best fishing in the world. The township takes its name from English Buccaneer William Dampier
who visited the area back in 1688. Game fishing in the region is extremely popular with the annual Game Fishing Classic held in early August each year. Both Australian and World records have been set in these productive waterways.
The massive iron ore company Hamersley Iron constructed Dampier
in 1966. The town was originally built to house the company's employees, working at the port facilities in Dampier
. This loading facility is the termination point for the railway system that operates from mines at Tom Price
, Paraburdoo, Channar, Brockman and Marandoo, (see our trek that follows the railway). Iron Ore is railed, stockpiled and loaded onto huge ships for overseas export. The port of Dampier
is the biggest tonnage port in Australia
with Iron Ore, LNG, salt and condensate passing through the four major docking facilities within the huge harbour.
The massive North West Shelf Gas project is situated on the nearby Burrup Peninsula and is managed by Woodside Offshore Petroleum. This Star Wars type plant produces an eternal sunset as the massive burn-off tower illuminates the night sky and can be seen for many miles
. The visitors centre is located at the end of the road on the Burrup Peninsula and is open to visitors daily. Not far from the visitors centre is Hearson Cove
, a popular swimming, fishing and mud crab catching location.
To the interior of the Pilbara region lies some of the country's oldest gorges and ranges. Now protected by National Parks you can drive, camp, walk and explore the Millstream-Chichester and the Karijini National Parks in the impressive Hamersley Ranges. You will need to obtain camping or day visit passes to the National Parks. A or the are worthwhile if moving around WA for a while.
To the south of Karijini National Park lies the mining and tourism town of Tom Price where you can arrange to visit the incredible Hamersley Iron Tom Price mining operation. Winter temperatures average 28 degrees, while summer averages 35 degrees.
The Pilbara region blends into the at Exmouth and the fabulous Ningaloo Reef.