This trip can be commenced from either end point on the Tom Price to Nanutarra Road. Assuming entry from the eastern point – the entry is obscured by gravel scrapes but becomes easily visible once off the road. Proceed approximately two kms on flats to a narrow rocky gap following which the track rapidly rises and winds to reveal a spectacular iron ore rocky landscape.
Following the plotted trail is recommended as the main track has many offtakes leading to various drill pads – without the plot it would be very easy to become lost here. Continuing approximately four kms further leads to a steep climb to an unnamed peak of 715m from which extensive panoramas in all directions can be seen. The track continues through similar series of high points, all of which have excellent viewsheds, until it levels out along a tributary of the Beasley, passing through a protected Indigenous site along the way.
The track T junctions at a black water tank
on Cheela Station. Turn right to proceed to the Pool, about six kms, or left to the main road exit (or entry) point under Mt Dixon after about five kms. The pool itself is set against a wide sandy gravel bed and river gums – very pretty.
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The Pilbara is located in the Australian arid zone and this area has low rainfall of around 250mm annually, arising mainly from cyclonic events
in summer. Temperatures are very high in summer and pleasant in winter, but with significant diurnal variations leading to frequent cold evenings.
The area falls in the Fortescue botanical district with an estimated 2000 species of flora present including significant proportions of eucalypt species as well as acacias. The upland rocks are notable for iconic snappy gums. Everywhere other than rivers and alluvial valleys, the landscape is characterised by Spinifex; triodia pungens on the lower slopes being replaced by triodia wiseana as the ground rises.
Rivers and streams are dominated by river gums. Woongarra Pool lies on the Beasley River which flows to the Hardey, which is in turn a tributary of the Ashburton.
The Hamersleys are also rich in faunal diversity with over 30 mammal species, 130 birds, and 90 reptiles and amphibians.
Rocks in the Hamersleys are old; in the order of 2000 million years. At the macro level three groups of rock, Fortescue, Hamersley and Turree Creek groups together overlay an older Hamersley Basin and collectively are known as the Mount Bruce Supergroup. Subsequent folding and erosion has led to today’s distinctive character. The Hamersley’s are highly prospective for iron as is the case for this trek. The prominent features of the trek’s landscape result from the highly resistant to erosion banded iron formations present throughout.
Aboriginal history in the Hamersleys extends from at least 30,000 years ago. The area of this trek was part of the Kurrama language group. Aboriginal interests continue strongly today and this trek contains at least one exclusion zone due to religious sensitivity.
Colonial history commenced with F.T. Gregory who surveyed the Hamersleys twice from a landing at Hearson Cove near Dampier on the Burrup Peninsula. He named the Ranges after his friend Edward Hamersley as well as naming many other features. Gregory reported good grazing at many places
and early runs were taken up for sheep. Both Cheela and Rocklea stations continue pastoral operations on the area of this trek.
Mining in the Hamersleys initially took place for asbestos at Wittenoon as well as for minor gold deposits at Turree Creek. Interest in iron deposits intensified after the lifting of a federal Government ban on exports of iron ore in 1960, leading to the building of no less than ten towns in the Pilbara
during this decade alone!
Nearby major mines are located at Mt Whaleback (at Tom Price) and at Paraburdoo. Initially built as company towns, Paraburdoo and Tom Price were ‘normalised’ in the 1980s with residences being placed on the open market.