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This national park, a two-hour
drive south of Karratha, is
a landscape of sunburnt red
ranges, sloping gullies and
permanent pools fringed by
snappy gums. Its vast 200,000
hectare mass is bisected
by the Fortescue River (top
tip: bring floaties if you’re
camping overnight alongside
it, so you can unwind in the
water with a beverage). Some
park highlights, such as Python
Pool and Chinderwarriner Creek, are
accessible by road, but you may need
a 4WD to find the Crossing or Deep
Reach pools. A permit is required from
Rio Tinto to travel on rail-access roads. To explore
by foot, visit Karratha visitor centre for information on
trails and to let them know you’re heading out (winter is the best time for walking –
summer temps can be upwards of 40°C). There are a few places in the park to camp
($10 per person per night).
KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK
Karijini is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia. You’ll get the best
introduction with a short walk through Weano Gorge to the picturesque Handrail
Pool. Dales Gorge encompasses Fern Pool, the impressive Fortescue Falls and
a two-hour return trail to Circular Pool. Walk up Mount Bruce, the second-highest
mountain in WA, for stunning views. Other highlights are the natural spa pool at
Hamersley Gorge, and Hancock Gorge where you can experience narrow chambers
and swim in deep rock pools. There is no electricity, fuel, drinking water or mobile
phone coverage anywhere in the park – you can buy ice for your esky at the eco
retreat (there’s a payphone there, too) but the nearest place to shop is Tom Price.
There is assisted wheelchair access to Junction Pool Lookout, the Weano Day Use
Area and Circular Pool Lookout, and independent wheelchair access is available at the
Karijini National Park Visitor Centre and the Dales Day Use Area. Karijini Eco Retreat
has campsites or swankier safari tents. There’s basic digs at Dales Camping Area, with
toilets, showers and free barbecues. A 2WD vehicle is usually fine, but the unsealed
roads get very bumpy. There are no petrol stations in the park, so fill up first.
The Pilbara isn’t just about land-based attractions... to cool down, head to the coast
or islands and explore world-class dive and snorkelling sites. There are numerous
renowned dive spots amongst the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago. Take a tour
or launch a trailer boat and find for your own site. Malus Island is a popular sheltered
bay where it is safe for kids to snorkel straight off the beach. Explore what’s believed
to be WA’s first shipwreck, The Tyrall, which sank in 1622 in the Montebello Islands.
The Mackerel Islands, 22km off the Onslow coast, are still a hidden gem... sitting just
north of the Ningaloo reef system they boast some of the most amazing, untouched
diving and snorkelling sites in Australia. There are hundreds of dive sites still
unexplored – underwater wonderlands of life and colour, with a staggering diversity
of fish, invertebrates, corals and marine mammals. Best time to go is from autumn
through to early spring.
• Visit Karijini National Park
• Scuba dive the
• Go birdwatching at
• Take a photo with the
Red Dog statue
• Jump on a charter
• Try your hand at catching
• Spend a night camping
• Stargaze in Millstream
Chichester National Park
All these events and more at
EIGHTY MILE BEACH
Highlights Stunning beach, great fishing from the shore.
Facilities Powered and unpowered sites, cabins with fresh water on tap.
Call Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park on (08) 9176 5941.
MILYANHA CAMPGROUND, MILLSTREAM CHICHESTER NATIONAL PARK
Highlights Python Pool in the national park.
Facilities About 20 sites with pit toilets, camp kitchen, and running water from a tap.
Call Millstream Chichester National Park on (08) 9182 1060.
DALES GORGE CAMPING GROUND, KARIJINI
Highlights Situated inside a gorge, close to Fortescue Falls.
Facilities Toilets and gas barbecues but the sites are unpowered. BYO water.
Call Karijini National Park visitor centre on (08) 9189 8121.
(Camp at Northwest, Primrose, Bluebell, Crocus, Hermite and Renewal islands).
Highlights Superb fishing, diving and snorkelling (be sure to check zones).
Call Department of Environment and Conservation (Pilbara Office) on (08) 9182 2000.
Hancock Gorge, Karijini National Park
(photography Insight Photography)
Millstream National Park
(photography Dan Paris)
The Montebello Islands (photography
Montebello Island Safaris).
The Montebello Islands.
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