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Things to do in the Pilbara


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Dating back two billion years and stretching over 400,000sqkm, the Pilbara’s rugged landscapes are some of the world’s most broad and ancient. Stunning island peninsulas, beaches, reefs, underwater gardens, ancient wildernesses and modern industrial sites…the remote and largely undisturbed Pilbara is a landscape of contrasts that has to be seen to be believed.
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The true beauty of this land can be found in Millstream Chichester National Park, and further inland at Karijini National Park, the jewel of the north and a destination that deserves to feature on everyone’s bucket list.

More pristine beauty can be found on the Dampier Coast’s dazzling white beaches, at the Montebello Islands, and the Mackerel Islands, near the seaside town of Onslow. Charter a boat or plane to take you out over untouched coral gardens, and you can cast a line, or snorkel with turtles and dolphins. Whales can be seen migrating from July to October.

There are more than 31 Aboriginal language groups in the Pilbara region, and, for many of the Indigenous inhabitants, traditional law practices and custodianship obligations are an essential part of their identities. Visitors are encouraged to be respectful of culturally significant sites, including the Burrup Peninsula.

The fragile Pilbara has been labelled ‘the Engine Room of Australia’, and is home to massive mining operations for crude oil, salt, natural gas and iron ore. Don’t be disturbed. When you fly over the Pilbara you realise the mining operations are mere pin-pricks in this vast, resource-rich region.

The two largest Pilbara towns, Karratha and Port Hedland, both owe their existences to mining. Port Hedland was established in 1896, but truly took off in the 1960s, when iron ore was discovered at Mount Whaleback. Servicing ships of a quarter of a million tonnes, the port now handles the greatest tonnage in Australia. Karratha has had a similar rags-to-riches tale: established in the 60s to accommodate iron-ore miners, it’s been a base for the Dampier’s offshore natural gas-drilling platforms since the 80s. Various tours are available and worth doing to appreciate the magnitude of these operations.

Getting there

Qantas, Virgin and Airnorth fly from Perth to Karratha, Port Hedland, Paraburdoo, and Newman.

The Pilbara is a 1481km drive from Perth. Take either the North West Coastal Highway or the Great Northern Highway.

Places to stay

Karratha and Port Hedland have accommodation options from motel and hotel, to holiday park, caravan park, self-contained and hostel.

At Karijini National Park, you can pitch a tent at Dales Campground (first in, first served). Alternatively, Karijini Eco Retreat offers campsites, eco tents with ensuites, dorm-style eco tents, and cabins.

Camp sites are available at Millstream Chichester National Park. Peak season is mid-April to early October.

Eighty Mile Beach caravan park has 150 powered and unpowered sites, plus cabins, a mini-mart and fresh water on tap. No bookings necessary.

The Pilbara is also home to luxury lodges and station stays, including the working station of Cheela Plains, which is the perfect overnight stop en route from Karijini to Carnarvon, with a space for camping.

You’ll find a wide range of accommodation in Point Samson, from resorts, chalets and boutique bed and breakfasts to modern caravan parks and holiday homes – all on the beautiful Indian Ocean. Take a stroll at sunset or sunrise along the beach at Honeymoon Cove, or have a picnic or barbecue on the grass as the sun sets over the water.

Guides

Guides


BHP Billiton Mt. Whaleback Mine Tours

This tour departs from the Newman Visitor Centre once a day at 9:15am on Mondays through Sundays. There is a minimum of 4 persons per tour.

  • Tour Duration:1.5 hours
  • Tour Price:$15 - $30
  • Activity:Driving
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Tour Locations:Newman
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

The tour last approximately 1.5 hours and passengers are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the tour. Please note that fully enclosed shoes, long sleeved tops to the wrists and long pants to the ankles are essential for the tour. We suggest bringing drinking water with you on hot days. Special tours for large groups can be negotiated by prior arrangement. Children 0-3 free - must be accompanied by an adult at all time

Compasswest Helicopters

You have seen the central Pilbara by road, now see it by helicopter - its majestic ancient mountains, the contrasts of colours in the morning and the afternoons.

  • Tour Price:Varied
  • Activity:Flying / Scenic Flights,Helicopter Flights
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Tour Locations:Tom Price and The Pilbara
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

?Compasswest helicopters owner and Chief pilot Neal Kent saw the opportunity when working away with his construction business in Tom Price in 2003 for a helicopter service in Tom Price that would regionalize a helicopter service providing the tourism, construction and mining an additional avenue for air transport across its natural but rugged and remote location.

Compasswest helicopters first application to the local shire was in 2003 and after many persistent applications, were finally granted a slither of road reserve on Nameless valley road in October of 2016.
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We commenced operation in April 2017 ready for the tourism season and any other affiliated requirements that customers require a helicopter for.

We provide all types of air tours and helicopter services in the Pilbara region to meet you charter needs.

Dampier Salt Dampier

  • (08) 9144 4600

Situated in Dampier, 30 minutes from Karratha is the world's largest salt producers. Watch sea water being processed into crystal salt and loaded onto the largest road trains in Australia.

  • Activity:Mining Site
  • Type:Attractions

Details

Description

Must wear covered shoes to visit the site.

Dampier Salt Karratha

  • (08) 9144 4600

Half day tour at the site of the largest salt producers in the world. See the process of sea water being changed into crystal salt and waiting for the largest road trains in Australia.

  • Type:Tours
  • Activity:Mining Site

Details

Description

Discovery Cruising

Discover the secrets of the magnificent Dampier Archipelago aboard 'Blue Marlin' 12 metre cruising vessel.

  • Tour Price:$90 - $240
  • Activity:Fishing,Island,Kayak/Canoe/Raft,Whale Watching,Seafood Experiences
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Discovery Cruising is a locally owned, family run business providing quality maritime charters and cruises in the Dampier Archipelago.

Owned by long-time resident of the Pilbara, Brad Beaumont is committed to sharing his passion for the Archipelago through sharing his extensive knowledge about the historical and contemporary wonders of this part of the northwest coast of WA.

Dampier Maritime School has its own dedicated training facility, surveyed training boats and qualified master marine instructor.  Training courses can be customised to suit individual/corporate requirements.

Dampier Trailer Boat Hire operates 7 days per week with two 4.6 metre Plaka boats (with shade) available for hire.

Hamersley Iron Dampier

  • (08) 9144 4600

Two and a half hour tour of the immense Hamersley Iron Port facility in Dampier Harbour. Travel from Karratha to the port and to see views of the Dampier Archipelago from Queens Lookout.

  • Type:Tours
  • Activity:Mining Site

Details

Description

Bookings are essential and can be made through the Karratha Tourist Bureau.

Hamersley Iron Karratha

  • info@tourist.karratha.com
  • (08) 9144 4600

In the Dampier Harbour, is the immense Hamersley Iron Port Facility. Also see the views of the Dampier Archipelago from Queens Lookout.

  • Type:Tours
  • Activity:Mining Site

Details

Description

History & Resources Tour

Jump on board the Visitor Centre History and Resource Tour to get a behind the scenes look at the iron ore ship loading operations in Cape Lambert and the history of Roebourne, Wickham and Cossack.

  • Activity:Mining Site
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Wednesday,Friday

Description

Lestok Tours

Lestok Tours - Local People showing you the Pilbara.

  • Activity:Driving,Mining Site
  • Suited For:Adults (18+),Seniors
  • Type:Tours,Charters & Rentals

Details

  • Open Days:Thursday,Friday,Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday

Description

Lestok Tours commenced operations in the Pilbara in 1986. In 1989 we took up the challenge of Tourism. Since that time we have conducted guided tours of Rio Tinto's Tom Price mining operation which is one of the most popular tours in the Pilbara. When access to Karijini National Park from Tom Price opened up with the Marandoo Road in 1993, we commenced day tours of the Park and Gorges.

Our vehicles are maintained to the highest standard and upgraded regularly. We have four coaches and three Toyota Coasters.

Mackerel Islands Dive

Just North of Ningaloo reef and Exmouth Gulf on the West Australian coast is a small group of ten islands called the Mackerel Islands.

  • Tour Duration:1 to 3 days
  • Activity:Diving,Snorkelling
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Tour Locations:Mackerel Islands

Description

Just North of Ningaloo reef and Exmouth Gulf on the West Australian coast is a small group of ten islands called the Mackerel Islands. Accessible from Onslow or Learmonth, it is an undiscovered marine playground with new and unexplored dive sites simply waiting for those who venture in. With a new dive center on the main island of Thevenard it looks set to become the new frontier in Western Australian diving.

Thevenard Island is the main base offering excellent facilities for divers and snorkellers. Lying just 20 kms offshore from Onslow you can arrive by charter boat, charter aircraft or your own boat. New dive sites are being discovered all the time but the real fact is that most of the marine life has never come in touch with a human being. Be one of the first to discover and experience this amazing opportunity.

GETTING HERE

The Mackerel Islands: Road Travel
Road travel from Perth to Onslow is a comfortable drive of about a day and a half on fully sealed roads.

Flying to North West
Qantas flies between Perth & Karratha. Skywest between Perth & Learmonth (just south of Exmouth).

Mackerel Islands Tours

Experience the magic of the Mackerel Islands through a range of tours and activities designed for a holiday full of sunshine, adventure and relaxation.

  • Tour Duration:Durations vary
  • Tour Price:Prices vary
  • Suited For:Adults (18+),Families
  • Type:Tours
  • Activity:Fishing,Flying / Scenic Flights,Four Wheel Driving,Kayak/Canoe/Raft,Whale Watching

Details

  • Tour Locations:Mackerel Islands
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Explore the island, ocean and reefs, discover the incredible sea life teeming underwater, learn about its resident turtles, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Monte Bello Island Safaris

The Montebello’s are surrounded by magnificent virgin coral reefs with water temperatures perfect for snorkelling, fishing, swimming and scuba diving. The many reefs in the area also create fantastic wave conditions for surfing. We are very keen to accommodate everyone’s needs so please let us know if there is anything in particular that you would like to do whilst at the Montebello’s.

  • Open days/Times:November to March
  • Tour Duration:6 nights
  • Activity:Diving,Snorkelling
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Tour Capacity:62
  • Tour Locations:Montebello Islands

Description

Situated approximately 75 nautical miles north of Onslow, off the West Australian coast, the little known Montebello Islands present a rare opportunity for adventure, fun and relaxation.

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With over 100 small islands in the group, all within easy reach by our charter vessel, 'Kylin', the Montebello’s are surrounded by magnificent virgin coral reefs with water temperatures perfect for snorkelling, fishing, swimming and scuba diving. The many reefs in the area also create fantastic wave conditions for surfing. We are very keen to accommodate everyone’s needs so please let us know if there is anything in particular that you would like to do whilst at the Montebello’s.

Murujuga Rock Art Cultural Experience

Join traditional custodians on a 1.5-hour rock art and cultural experience at Deep Gorge in the Murujuga National Park on the Burrup Peninsula, 30 minutes from Karratha.

  • Tour Price:$17 - $89
  • Activity:Bush Walking,Aboriginal Owned & Operated
  • Type:Sites & Trails,Tours

Details

  • Tour Locations:Burrup
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Join Traditional Custodians on a 1 &1/2 hour rock art and cultural experience at Deep Gorge.

To the local Indigenous people, Murujuga is a sacred place where you will find the famed petroglyphs, ancient rock art of cultural significance.

There is estimated to be up to one million images, some more than 35,000 years old, found in the National Park. The rock art tells the stories of our country and our intrinsic link to it.

As  the indigenous custodians of this land we want to share our culture and stories with you.

Ngurrangga Tours

Clinton started Ngurrangga Tours to educate and immerse people in the ways of his culture and history so that they could understand more about Pilbara Aboriginal culture and country.

  • Tour Price:From $160
  • Activity:Bush Walking,Aboriginal Owned & Operated,Aboriginal Traditional Fishing
  • Type:Tours

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Clinton started Ngurrangga Tours to educate and immerse people in the ways of his culture and history so that they could understand more about Pilbara Aboriginal culture and country. ?Ngurrangga Tours mostly operates from Karratha and offers visitors a unique experience of the Pilbara through the eyes of a traditional owner.

?Guests are given the opportunity to learn about bush foods and medicines, explore stunning locations, view and understand ancient rock art in the world's largest outdoor rock art gallery, hear traditional stories and listen to traditional songs sung using the wirra (boomerang).

Ngurrangga Tours

?Ngurrangga Tours mostly operates from Karratha and offers visitors a unique experience of the Pilbara through the eyes of a traditional owner.

  • Open days/Times:Daily
  • Tour Duration:5 hours - 3 days
  • Tour Price:$80 - $1450
  • Type:Tours
  • Activity:Aboriginal Bushfoods,Aboriginal Owned & Operated,Aboriginal Rock Art
  • Suited For:Families,Kids (4 - 12),Teens (13 - 17),Adults (18+),Seniors

Details

  • Tour Locations:Various locations

Description

Ngurrangga Tours offers 6 different tours. Choose from: The Millstream Overnight Tour, Bush Tucker Tour, 4WD Tag-Along Tour, 3 Day Tour, Barrimirndi Day Tour and the Rock Art Tour.

Key Experiences

-Learn about Aboriginal history and culture
-Learn about traditional Aboriginal hunting/gathering
-Learn how to collect prepare and eat ‘bush tucker’; native food found in the outback
-Learning about and playing Aboriginal instruments (Didgeridoo clap sticks etc.)
-View ancient Aboriginal cave paintings carvings or rock art

Check the website for details on all of the tours on offer: http://www.ngurrangga.com.au/tour-info.html 

 

 

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