Experience the beauty of the Pilbara

Literally billions of years old, the Pilbara both astounds and welcomes you in a way that you instantly feel a part of its majesty. It is a place where you slowly let go and allow yourself to be immersed in its magnetic charm.

Maybe it’s the sheer scale of the place, with its towering red cliffs of ancient rock, tranquil pools of turquoise cupped amongst lush greenery and fields of lavender Mulla Mulla swaying to the rhythm of calming breezes.

The Shire of Ashburton is a haven for history, nature and adventure seekers alike. You can explore historic ruins and massive mining operations, conquer rocky mountains, hike the famous Karijini gorges and swim in the beautiful pools of Millstream Chichester National Park. There is bountiful fish to be caught, astounding coral reefs to discover and breathtaking views at every stop – none more than the phenomenal Staircase to the Moon event. A kaleidoscope of colour, this vast ancient land will never leave you.

Jump to Onslow, Mackerel Islands, Paraburdoo, Tom Price, Karijini National Park, Millstream Chichester National Park, Pannawonica, Accommodation, Key travel contacts


ONSLOW

Aerial view of Onslow

Onslow is a beautiful coastal town with a nice, sunny climate, particularly April- September. It is the oldest town in the Ashburton Shire, with a colourful history including pearl lugging and devastation by cyclone and Japanese bombing in World War II. Onslow will appeal to those with an avid interest in fishing, history and nature.

MUST SEE:

Scenic attractions

  • Heritage Trail: Enjoy leisurely walks and charming historic insights
  • Termite Mound Viewing Area: Marvel at these prolific ant nests
  • Bobby’s Tree: Iconic memorial 60km from town
  • War Memorial: A must see in Onslow, the War Memorial depicts a Diggers Badge and has been designed for the sun to rise through the centre each Anzac Day. Located at Beadon Point, the War Memorial also has a gazebo and lawn area and marks the beginning of the Ian Blair Memorial Walkway.
  • Ian Blair Memorial Walkway: Extremely popular boardwalk, starting at Beadon Point and winding 1km through natural vegetation to Sunset Beach. The walkway commemorates Ian Blair, a former WA Policeman who was posted to Onslow in 1959 and remained an active member of the community until his death in 1998.

Historical Attractions

  • Onslow Salt: A colossal sight— produces up to 2.5 million tonnes/year!
  • Goods Shed Museum: Heritage listed and houses Onslow’s fascinating historical artifacts
  • ‘Old Onslow’: Original town abandoned in 1925. View the old police station and prison
  • Staircase to the Moon: One of the best places in WA to view this beautiful optical illusion phenomenon over exposed mudflats
  • Sunset & Sunrise: Witness both sunrise and sunset over water
  • Wheatstone Tour: Take a bus tour to see the Wheatstone Project firsthand. Bookings can be made through the Onslow Visitors Centre.

MUST DO:

Fishing hotspots

  • Sunrise Beach: fish, snorkel, collect shells, boat ramp, beach shelter
  • Sunset Beach: fish, swim, shaded picnic area, fish cleaning facilities, sunset viewing
  • Four Mile Creek: fishing, crabbing, picnic, BBQ area, shaded shelter
  • Ashburton River: fish, picnic, bushwalking, camping
  • Beadon Creek: fish at the Groyne
  • Fishing Charters: April to October

MUST KNOW:

  • Dump point: Located on Cameron Avenue near the public toilets
  • Water refill tap: Located at Second Avenue next to the Onslow Visitors Centre
  • Ashburton River Camping permits: Permits available from Shire offices between 9am-4pm, Mon-Fri

MUST STAY:

  • Ocean View Caravan Park
  • Ashburton River Camping Ground: No facilities – take own water
  • Ocean Beach Resort
  • Onslow Sun Chalets
  • Discovery Park Onslow

MACKEREL ISLANDS

Located 22 kilometres off the Onslow coast, the Mackerel Islands are surrounded by a world-class reef system that links surrounding areas such as the Ningaloo Reef and Montebello Islands. Its pristine waters and coral reefs are home to an abundance of colourful, reef fish and marine life, making it a tantalising lure for those keen on top shelf fishing and snorkeling or anyone with an appreciation of nature at its dazzling best.

MUST SEE:

  • Everything: Spectacular coral reefs hosting a whirlpool of marine activity, spotless beaches and island wildlife

MUST DO:

  • Fishing
  • Bring your own boat and cast a line
  • Join a Mackerel Islands fishing tour and chase Red Emperor, Spangled Emperor, Golden Trevally, Giant Trevally and Coral Trout
  • Diving for crayfish
  • Snorkeling: An array of five-star fish, turtles, coral reefs and marine life
  • Bird watching
  • Relaxing on the beaches
  • Shell collecting
  • Eating fresh seafood
  • Join a Mackerel Islands tour: Explore by boat or light aircraft

MUST KNOW:

  • Onslow Visitor Centre: For more information about tours of the Mackerel Islands
  • Boat mooring: A mooring is available for guests staying at Direction Island for boats less than 6m long

MUST STAY:

Two of the ten islands that make up the Mackerel Islands, Thevenard Island and Direction Island, provide a range of accommodation options. Book at bookings@mackerelislands.com.au


PARABURDOO

Paraburdoo

Paraburdoo is a 40-year-old purpose built mining town that lies on the desert fringe of the Hamersley Ranges. It is renowned for its beautiful scenery,its sunsets and its wildlife diversity.

MUST SEE:

  • Resilience Sculpture: made from materials sourced from the local mine site and created through a collaboration of community support. The sculpture, titled ‘Resilience’, is located three kilometres from Paraburdoo, on the road to Tom Price, and is a landmark of great significance for the community and for visitors to the region.
  • Kelly’s Pool: 8kms out of town and the local year round water hole with picnic facilities (swimming prohibited)

MUST DO:

  • Route to Karijini: Follow this popular route via the Tom Price Road and admire the amazing landscape

MUST KNOW:

  • The airport: Located only 10 minutes away with Qantas flights daily to Perth, and Virgin flights twice per week
  • Facilities: Supermarket, newsagency, bottleshop, pharmacy and gift shop
  • Services: Police station, Royal Flying Doctor Service, library, Shire office, Post Office, credit union, child health clinic, medical centre and Anglican and Catholic Churches
  • Temperature: Paraburdoo’s highest recorded maximum temperature is 48.9 degrees and the lowest recorded temperature is 1.5 degrees

MUST STAY:

  • The Paraburdoo Caravan Park: Provides 10 caravan bays for tourists
  • Paraburdoo Inn

WiFi:

  • Free WiFi is available at the Library/Shire office

TOM PRICE

Tom Price, Main Street

Deep in the Hamersley Ranges at the foot of Mt Nameless/Jarndunmunha you’ll find Tom Price – Western Australia’s highest town at 747m above sea level. It is a scenic town, named after an American geologist who played an important role in identifying the region’s enormous mineral wealth. Fully serviced with a range of accommodation, it is the perfect place to base yourself when planning to visit Karijini National Park.

MUST SEE:

  • Mt Nameless/Jarndunmunha: 4kms from town, 1128m high with spectacular panoramic views of Tom Price and Rio Tinto Iron Mine (4WD track and walk trail access to summit)

MUST DO:

  • Karijini tours: Experience the wonder. Tours depart on demand
  • Open cut mine tours: Be awed by some of the world’s largest iron ore-extracting Machinery
  • Bird watching at Kings Lake
  • Train spotting on Doradeen Road bridge
  • Visitors Centre: Drop in for abundant local information

MUST KNOW:

  • Facilities: Major supermarket, bank, doctor, hospital, service station, Post Office, library and restaurants
  • Temperature: Beware of extremes (from zero at night to up to 45°C)
  • Stray animals: Be wary on roads
  • Road conditions: Check current conditions, inform others of plans
  • Mobile Coverage: Telstra strongest, others have limited coverage
  • Creek beds: Never camp in dry creek beds due to flash flooding

MUST STAY:

  • Tom Price Tourist Park
  • Tom Price Hotel-Motel
  • Windawarri Lodge

WiFi:

  • Free WiFi is available at the Tom Price Visitor Centre and Library

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK

karajini national park

The Shire of Ashburton’s crown jewel and one of Australia’s greatest treasures, witnessing

the splendor of Karijini is an experience to be cherished for a lifetime. Also known as the Hamersley Ranges, Karijini is Western Australia’s second largest national park, boasting breathtaking gorges, waterfalls, permanent rock pools and some of the oldest landforms in the world. Beautifully scarred with deep chasms formed over two billion years ago contrasted by lush greenery, Karijini is the homeland of the Punjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people – many of whom live near Tom Price. An unforgettable experience awaits.

MUST SEE:

  • Oxers Lookout: Junction where four gorges merge, one of the most breathtaking views in the park
  • Hamersley Gorge
  • Weano Gorge
  • Hancock Gorge
  • Dales Gorge & Circular Pool
  • Fortescue Falls
  • Fern Pool
  • Mt Bruce: WA’s second highest mountain – stop on the way to Karijini for a beautiful (but vigorous) scenic walk

MUST DO:

  • Bushwalking: For beginners, there are easy-walk trails through the heart of gorges winding past amazing scenery. For the experienced walker, follow rock pathways, cling to rocky edges and submerge yourself in cool springs
  • Swimming in rock pools and waterfalls: Unforgettable, tranquil experience that should not be missed

Caution must be taken, please take note of the warning signs and take care at all times.

MUST KNOW:

  • Park Fees: Pay fees at entrance stations, Karijini Visitors Centre or Tom Price Visitors Centre
  • Camp Fees: Deposit at provided collection boxes
  • Facilities: Picnic facilities, toilets, free BBQs
  • Fires: Open fires not permitted in the national park
  • Rock Pools: Can be cold to swim in during winter months

MUST STAY:

  • Dales Gorge campsite
  • Karijini Eco Retreat & Savannah campsite

MILLSTREAM CHICHESTER NATIONAL PARK

Millstream

A 200,000-hectare park surrounding the Fortescue River, Millstream Chichester National Park echoes the soul of the Pilbara with its rugged gorges contrasting against tropical rock pools, meandering watercourses and water lily-blanketed wetlands. The heartland of the Yindjibarndi people, the park is of great Aboriginal significance as it is the home of the mythological serpent, the ‘Warlu’. The reserve is believed to hold almost two million cubic litres of water covering nearly 2,000 square kilometres – creating lush pools of great cultural significance.

MUST SEE:

  • Python Pool: Superb – one of the park’s most scenic locations
  • Deep Reach Pool: Viewing deck and steps to access pool for swimming
  • Chichester Range escarpment: Stunning rock formations

MUST DO:

  • Bicycle track: 3km track that starts near the Visitor Centre at the Old Millstream Homestead and winds through stunning scenery to Cliff Lookout
  • Walking trails: Take the 750m Homestead Trail around Jirndawurrunha Pool (Lily Pond), the Murlamunyjunha trail to Crossing Pool or the 8km Heritage Camel Trail. Be sure to cool off in rock pools and view the amazing wildlife

MUST KNOW:

  • Camping facilities: Bush toilets and gas BBQs. Park maps and information available from the park Visitor Centre
  • Reading: ‘Ngurra Wardurala Buluyagayi: Exploring Yindjibarndi Country’ is a must have book for travellers wanting to understand more about the significance of the park to its traditional owners
  • Park Entry Fee: $11 single entry or purchase DPaW’s Annual All Park Pass for unlimited entry into Millstream, Karijini and all national parks throughout WA
  • Millstream-Yarraloola Road: Unsuitable for buses, caravans, trailers or two-wheel drives
  • Millstream Homestead Visitors Centre: Find out about early settler history and nature information, obtain ranger contact details, phone card telephone

MUST STAY:

  • Miliyanha Campground: Close to the Homestead Visitor Centre, bush toilets and camp kitchen with hot water
  • Stargazers Campground: Bush toilets and gas

PANNAWONICA

pannawonica

Pannawonica’s name was taken from the nearby Pannawonica Hill, which drew its name from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘the hill that came from the sea’. Legend has it that an ownership argument caused the sea spirit to drag the hill inland, gouging the land and forming the Robe River.

The town is a purpose built mining town and houses more than 1000 people who work the nearby mines. Built in 1970 and gazetted as a town site in 1972, Pannawonica is a ‘closed town’, meaning its facilities are mainly reserved for staff and contractors. However, visitors are always welcome, and Pannawonica makes for a fantastic spot to stop for supplies and refuel.

MUST SEE:

  • Robe River: Well-shaded swimming holes, picnic and camping areas – a flora and fauna haven
  • Aboriginal rock art: Discover world class, ancient rock art (recommended access via 4WD)

MUST DO:

  • Robe River Rodeo: A must see annual event that doubles the town’s population over the weekend and attracts interstate competitors, with fun and competitions for all ages

MUST KNOW:

  • Pannawonica access: Sealed road from North-West Coastal Highway
  • Weather: Mean maximum between 26.7°C and 40.9°C. December-March wet season, experiences cyclonic storms
  • Facilities: Post office, supermarket, milk-bar, pub, public swimming pool, police station, petrol station and a free drive-in cinema
  • Accommodation: Limited facilities

MUST STAY:

  • Pannawonica Caravan Park: Three bays available with shower and toilet facilities, with a three night stay maximum. Bookings in advance recommended by contacting the local Shire library on 9134 9501

ACCOMMODATION

STATION STAYS

Experience life as a pastoralist, or enjoy the serenity of the wide open spaces.

Emu Creek Station
Darryl and Joyce Penny
1 Nyang Road, Barradale  WA
Ph: 99430534
emucreekstation@hotmail.com
http://www.emucreekstation.com/

Cheela Plains Station
Evan and Robin Pensini
PMB 246
Paraburdoo WA 6754
P (08)91898084
F (08)91898201
E robinpensini@bigpond.com
http://www.cheelaplains.com.au/

ROADHOUSE ACCOMODATION

Auski Tourist Village
Munjina
Great Northern Highway
Phone: 9176 6988
Fax: 9176 6973
Email: auskivillage@yahoo.com.au

Nanutarra Roadhouse
North West Coastal Highway
Phone: 9943 0521
Fax: 9238 0745
Email: info@nanutarra.com.au

CARAVAN PARKS

Tom Price Tourist Park
www.tompricetouristpark.com.au
(08) 9189 1515

Ocean View Caravan Park (Onslow)
(08) 9184 6053

Discovery Park Onslow
www.discoveryparks.com.au
(08) 9184 6007

Paraburdoo Caravan Park
1800 992 777

Pannawonica Caravan Park
9134 9501


KEY TRAVEL CONTACTS

Tom Price Visitors Centre

www.tomprice.org.au

9188 5488

 

Department of Parks

& Wildlife

9182 2000

www.dpaw.wa.gov.au

 

Karijini National Park Visitors

Centre

9189 8121

 

Karijini Eco Retreat

www.karijiniecoretreat.com.au

9189 8013

Reservations: 9425 5591

reservations@karijiniecoretreat.com.au

Onslow Visitors Centre

9184 6644

www.facebook.com/onslowvisitorscentre

Main Roads WA

Travel alerts

www.mainroads.wa.gov.au