West Hamersley Ranges and Woongarra Pool

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesWoongarra Pool TurnOff
FinishTrack Access West End
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5
Suitable for4WD AWD Camper 
Distance43.3 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed36.67 km/hr
Driving Time1 hr 10 mins
Page Updated: 25 Aug 2011

Description

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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Environment

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.

History

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.

Preparation

All of this trip is on bladed earth tracks or good station tracks. However, the BHP exploration tracks are in very remote and rugged country albeit within about 4kms from the main road. Due to the terrain, walking out if in difficulty should only be attempted by experienced bushwalkers.

Preparation for this route should be as for any other remote 4WD track, including carrying sufficient fuel, water, food, supplies, communications gear, safety equipment and first aid, along with emergency backup supplies.

Be well prepared with a GPS, HF radio or Satellite phone. We advise that you refer to the latest information and advice about outback communications in the Communications Topic.

Make sure you have adequate recovery gear and tyre repair kits. Travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness

Permits

None required, although prior permission for access to the Pool must be requested from Cheela Station – 9189 8084 or UHF Ch25 passing the station if travelling from Nanutarra.

Rocklea (owned by BHP) – 91898159 - should also be contacted to ascertain whether access is available to the exploration site – it may be denied if current exploration work is being undertaken.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Nanutarra.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 6 litres4cyl 7 litres4cyl 9 litres
6cyl 7 litres6cyl 8 litres6cyl 8 litres
8cyl 7 litres8cyl 7 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Paraburdoo Aero
Distance from Trek Mid Point 55.97km SE
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C41.038.636.433.429.225.224.827.531.235.638.240.2
Mean Min. °C26.025.023.119.614.611.09.710.913.418.121.324.4
Mean Rain mm50.778.346.426.816.623.614.611.63.54.48.128.7

Services & Supplies

Map

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What to See

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Where to Stay

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Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Woongarra Pool TurnOff to Black Tank6.14 kmNW317° 8 min
Black Tank to Woongarra Pool6.94 kmNW326° 9 min
Woongarra Pool to Sacred Sites Area12.83 kmSE126° 19 min
Sacred Sites Area to Views: West Hamersley Ranges8.18 kmE104° 16 min
Views: West Hamersley Ranges to Gap: Woongarra Pool Trek7.41 kmE91° 20 min
Gap: Woongarra Pool Trek to Track Access West End1.79 kmSE132° 2 min
Woongarra Pool TurnOff to Track Access West End43.3 km  1 hr 10 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

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