Photo: The Pilbara - Millstream-Chichester National Park
Travelling north from Perth and beyond Shark Bay brings you to the North West Coast of Western Australia. From Coral Bay to Exmouth and around into Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo Reef National Park has the largest barrier reef in WA.
Coral Bay is a good launch pad for visiting the 260km long protected Ningaloo Reef. During the spawning season of the coral, late march, Whale Sharks arrive at the park for seasonal feeding (April to July).
See more about the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park.
Exmouth, once was an important Allied submarine base in WWII, before being transferred to the Australian Navy. There are now has some great Eco Tours of Ningaloo Reef Park to be had in this resort town, while nearby is the Cape Range National Park.
Exmouth also has splendid fishing, swimming, surf and diving opportunities. Bring your camera, there’s plenty of charming scenery to photograph as well.
At Cape Range National Park, Australian fauna is abundant. Here you can spot many varieties of birds, as well as wallaroos, emus and red kangaroos. Flora includes over 600 species of flowers as well as other plants unique to the region.
There are also numerous deep gorges providing fantastic views and wildlife walks, although these are not recommended on hot days in summer months, temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). Even Aussies would tell you thats hot.
Karratha is a modern mining boom town. Only founded in the late 1960s, it services the iron mines that have helped strengthen Australia’s economy, even more so now than in the late 20th century.
The surrounds of Karratha is called the Pilbara region. The Pilbara stretches from the coast to east border of Western Australia. A land of ancient mountain formations, deep gorges formed by rivers long ago with some spectacular waterfalls and pools. Tens of thousands of aboriginal rock carvings dot the area, many dating back thousands of years.
This park is famed for its freshwater springs and pools surrounded by cotton palms, making a desert oasis. The water in the pools come from deep underground springs, it provides a habitat for birds, red kangaroos, frogs and many other Australian animals.
There is camping available at the Millstream-Chichester National Park, as there is in Cape Range NP.
Those interested in history should visit the Goods Shed Museum at the Onslow Visitors Centre. Onslow itself had originally been a place for goldminers and pearlers. Since the pearling has now moved to Broome and the gold finds further east, the town is pretty much a sleepy fishing village.
During WWII, the Japanese launched two air attacks on the town, as it was used to refuel Dutch, British and American submarines. Submarines played a vital role during the Battle for Australia, particularly in the early years.
Now an important Iron Ore ship loading facility for BHP-Billington, the ore arrives from points east, deep in the desert regions from afar afield as Newman by long trains (up to 3.7 kms). You can tour the loading facilities on weekdays to view the massive equipment used.
In July to October, there are whale watching cruises available at Port Hedland, to spot whales on their annual migrations north.
Streams and Rivers have cut their way into the ancient land deposits over millenia to form deep gorges, red in colour from the rusty profusion of iron in the soils and rock. The park protects numerous species of animals and their habitats.
Though each gorge is unique, their views are dramatic, with crystal clear streams and pools below.
There are hotels, resorts, motels and other accommodation suitable for most budgets in all the major centres. Motels and quaint bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, campsites as well as backpacker hostels are scattered on the main routes and further afield.
North West WA has stunning coastal National Parks and Marine Reserves, as well as truly remote and vast desert parks: North West WA National Parks Map.
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Photo: Pilbara - Karijini National Park