Awe and ore can be found in equal measure in Karratha. Known for its iron ore operations, this is the gateway to the marine-life rich Dampier Archipelago, the world’s most prolific prehistoric rock engraving site, Karijini’s four billion year old adventure playground and Millstream’s Chichester National Park. It’s also one of the few locations where you can witness the Staircase to the Moon.
Karratha is a two hour flight or a 16 hour road trip from Perth, and a three hour drive south of Port Hedland. From here, you can join one of many guided tours, or begin your own adventure.
A walk along the Jaburara Heritage Trail, starting from the visitor centre, gives you an introduction to the ancient Jaburara people and their legacy – the largest collection of Aboriginal rock engravings on Earth. Across the Burrup Peninsular, the Jaburara created more than 10,000 artworks, many dating back thousands of years.
A short hop by boat brings you to Western Australia’s hotspot for marine diversity and one of Australia’s best-kept fishing, snorkelling and diving secrets – the Dampier Archipelago. Its 42 islands and islets sit within a 45 kilometre radius of neighbouring Dampier.
Head two hours south of Karratha and find yourself in another world entirely. A lush oasis of tree-lined pools, spinifex hills and lily-filled wetlands awaits adventurous nature lovers at Millstream Chichester National Park. You can also follow in the tracks of early settlers along the Chichester Range Camel Trail and learn about the hardships they endured.
Venture further south to Karijini National Park and enter an outback playground of inviting plunge pools, 100 metre chasms and a 1,235 metre mountain four billion years in the making.
Using Karratha as a base makes perfect sense. As well as the largest shopping centre in the North West it boasts a good selection of accommodation, from luxury to budget-friendly.
If your visit coincides with a full moon between April and October, head for Hearson’s Cove at sunset where you can watch the moon rise over exposed mudflats creating the rare natural phenomenon known as the Staircase to the Moon.
Just a few of the many things to do in Karratha
Staircase to the Moon
Staircase to the Moon is a spectacular natural phenomenon in the northern region of WA. On the West Pilbara Coast it can be experienced at Cossack Lookout and Hearson’s Cove, near Karratha.
Occurring on full moon dates, from March to November along the coast of northern WA, the Staircase to the Moon is a beautiful optical illusion. Only created when the full moon reflects on exposed mudflats at extremely low tide, it forms a magical staircase reaching up to the moon. Plan an evening complete with deck chair, wine and camera to view this spectacular event at beautiful Hearson’s Cove.
For Staircase to the Moon dates please click here – Staircase to the Moon 2017
For further information on WA’s Staircase to the Moon event please contact us via email at KVCCounter@karrathavisitorcentre.com.au or call +61 8 9144 4600
The Pilbara Wildflowers offer a dramatic contrast to our harsh red earth, ranging from blankets of purple Mulla Mulla, Sturt Desert Pea, yellow Wattles and orange Cockroach Bushes. For those following the wildflower trail, the best time to view our magnificent flora on the West Pilbara Coast is generally during the winter months from June to August.
Sturt Desert Pea is the most commonly identified of all the wildflowers on the West Pilbara Coast. The Desert Pea is named after the explorer Charles Sturt, who encountered vast drifts of them while exploring the central regions of South Australia, however the first specimen was actually collected from the Dampier Archipelago (East Lewis Island) by William Dampier in 1699. Four species of the Sturt Desert Peas have been photographed in this area; crimson with red bosses (the raised centres of the flower), crimson with black bosses, a white hybrid variety and a crimson and white variegated (which is less common).
Amongst the vast plains of red rock and hardy spinifex species, the Pilbara is home to a variety of tropical plant life found growing on the fringes of permanent freshwater pools. The Millstream Chichester National Park offers an abundance of tropical plant life ranging from the Millstream Palm (identifiable by its fanned, greyish-green leaves and smooth bark), to its introduced species from early pioneers such as the exotic Date and Cotton Palms found throughout the Millstream Delta.
The following itineraries provide a guide to exploring the Pilbara’a wildflowers:
Pilbara Trail – provided courtesy of Tourism Westerna Australia
Pilbara Wildflowers Trail – provided courtesy of RAC Travel
The Dampier Rock Art Precinct, which comprises the 42 islands and islets of the Dampier Archipelago (including the Burrup Peninsula) contains the highest concentration of rock ‘carvings’ in the world, dated between 6,000 and 20,000 years old.
Deep Gorge, situated on the Burrup Peninsula, is a wonderful natural record of Aboriginal culture. This area is recognised as one of the most prolific Aboriginal rock art sites in Australia. Over 10,000 individual rock engravings (petroglyphs) and etchings have been located in this archaeologically rich region. The collection of rock engravings number over one million across the Dampier Archipelago and Burrup Peninsula, many depicting images of the now extinct Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). Prepare to be taken back in time as you leave the main road, along a 100 metre track to the car park and walk along the dry creek of this amazing gorge.
As you venture down the creek at Deep Gorge, surrounded by huge granite boulders and Currajong trees, marvel at the petroglyphs etched into the rocks, and gain an appreciation of the Jaburara Tribe’s self sufficient lifestyle. Shell middens provide evidence of their seafood diets; the granite boulders would have offered shelter from the harsh weather conditions; and the creek, now mostly dry, would have been their only water supply.
After discovering ancient Aboriginal culture at Deep Gorge, why not visit Hearson’s Cove, one of WA’s most beautiful beaches (only 100m past the turnoff to Deep Gorge).
For further information on accessing Deep Gorge please contact the Karratha Visitor Centre: Tel: +61 8 9144 4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org