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DO AND SEE
HEROES IN A HALF-SHELL
Eighty Mile Beach has been hailed
as one of the longest uninterrupted
stretches of beach in Western Australia
– and that alone is enough to draw
visitors. But it’s the coming and going
of tiny flatback turtles, only found in
Northern Australia, that make people
stick around. Mating season runs from
October to February, hatching is from
December to March. You’ll find Eighty
Mile Beach between Cape Missiessy
and Cape Keraudren on the Great
Northern Highway – turn down the
10km access road to the caravan park.
Travelling through the extremely hot
and dry landscape of the Pilbara, it
seems impossible to believe that water
could exist there in abundance.
And then you discover the
miraculous beauty of Karijini National
Park in the Hamersley Range, where
emerald-green rock pools of ice-cold
water lie at the bottom of deep red-
rock ravines. Oxer Lookout, an 800m
stroll from the car park, brings you to
a spectacular drop-off with
breathtaking views over the junction
of four mighty gorges: Red, Weano,
Joffre and Hancock. Getting to
other sites often involves longer
walks through challenging terrain in
sweltering temperatures (it’s always
worth it in the end).
HOT TIPS FOR
Wash all that red dirt away at
Fortescue Falls, the park’s only
permanent waterfall. Find it at
Dales Gorge, an 800m walk from
the car park (there are rocky steps
so allow an hour return).
From Fortescue Falls, take the
300m detour to pretty, spring-fed
Fern Pool, complete with timbered
swimming platform and stairs.
Fortescue Falls is also the starting
point for an 800m hike (allow two
hours return) to Circular Pool. The
walk starts off steep but ends in an
easy and scenic ramble.
Named for its luminous
green waters, Kermit’s Pool at
Hancock Gorge is at the end of
a challenging 1.5km trail (allow
three hours return) that involves
a steep descent and ladder.
An equally adventurous option is
Handrail Pool in Weano Gorge, with
a very steep and narrow 1.5km descent
(allow three hours return).
GRAB YOUR SWAG
AND BILLY CAN
One of the best places for camping is
Millstream Chichester National Park.
Fed by an underground aquifer, the
park’s gorges and pools are in stark
contrast to the barren surroundings
and spinifex-covered hills.
The Miliyanha campground offers
powered sites, while Stargazers is
unpowered. BYO fuel stove, because
campfires are prohibited, and don’t
forget your bathers so you can enjoy
a cool dip in Deep Reach, Crossing,
and Python pools.
The North West is filled with
including Sam Ostojich,
legendary for building his own
castle on Tidepole Island, off
the Dampier coast. After years
of transporting rocks, soil and
timber, he was granted a 99-
year gentleman’s lease and
connected to the mainland’s
water supply. Sam whiled away
his days on the island with his
cat, Tiger, until he passed away
in 2005. Today, you can tour
the poignant remains of Sam’s
Island. Ask for a visitor’s permit
from Karratha Visitor Centre.
AWE-INSPIRING ART AND ARTEFACTS
More than one million ancient rock engravings can be found simply by
strolling around Burrup Peninsula, near Dampier. This ‘outdoor gallery’ has
the highest concentration of rock art anywhere in the world, and special
significance to the Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi, Yaburara-Mardudhunera and
Woon-goo-tt-oo people, the traditional custodians of the land for 40,000
years. Good examples can be viewed at Deep Gorge, within walking
distance of Hearson’s Cove and accessible to all vehicles. The beach also
has barbecues, shelter and toilets, so sit a while, cast a line for coral trout,
red emperor, scarlet sea perch, spangled emperor and norwest snapper, and
contemplate the passing of time in a timeless landscape.
The best way to appreciate the
gargantuan scale of mining operations
is to head to Marapikurrinya Park
in Port Hedland. From the water’s
edge, you’ll see massive container
ships loading up iron ore, salt and
other minerals before heading off to
international ports. Further along, at
Redbank Bridge, watch for 3km-long
trains bringing iron ore from the
Newman mine. You’ll also spot
a massive salt stockpile. Visit at sunrise
or sunset for photo opportunities.
Karijini National Park
(photography David Kirkland).
A cliff lookout at Millstream
Chichester National Park.
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