Enjoy Looking and Feeling Amazing in Midwest Pilbara and Kimberly Regions WA
Geraldton is a coastal city in the Mid West region of Western Australia, located 424 kilometres (263 mi) north of Perth. Geraldton is the seat of government for the City of Greater Geraldton, which also incorporates the town of Mullewa and large rural areas previously forming the shires of Greenough and Mullewa. The Port of Geraldton is a major west coast seaport. Geraldton is an important service and logistics centre for regional mining, fishing, wheat, sheep and tourism industries.
The Geraldton Visitor Centre is located in the historical Geraldton railway station. The Point Moore Lighthouse, located south of the Geraldton Port is a cultural and historical attraction. It is the oldest surviving Commonwealth lighthouse in Western Australia and was also the first steel tower to be constructed on the mainland of Australia. The Point Moore lighthouse stands 35m tall and its 1000w Tungsten Halogen Lamp can be seen for 23 nautical miles. It began operation in 1878.
The memorial for the World War II cruiser HMAS Sydney is located on Gummer Avenue, at the summit of Mount Scott. The memorial recognises the loss of the light cruiser during a mutually destructive fight with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran off Shark Bay in November 1941, with none of the 645 crewmen aboard surviving. A temporary memorial, consisting of a large boulder, a flagpole, and a bronze plaque, was erected in 1998. A permanent memorial was dedicated on 18 November 2001, the day before the 60th anniversary.
The Kalbarri region is a favourite family holiday destination also known for its adventure experiences on the water and land-based attractions. Situated where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean, Kalbarri has soaring river and coastal gorges and protected swimming bays like Blue Holes. The Tumblagooda Sandstone (approximately 541 million years old) is one of Kalbarri National Park’s most striking features – the layers of coloured rock bed, trace fossils and ancient insect footprints of euthycarcinoids (an extinct group of arthropod or scorpion-like insects) are quite remarkable. The most iconic location in Kalbarri has to be Nature’s Window, a natural rock arch framing the River. The National Park offers superb hiking trails, quad biking, canoeing and kayaking river-ways, abseiling and lookouts and from July to October each year, over 800 species of wildflowers create an awe-inspiring display.
Just south of Kalbarri is Port Gregory, home of Hutt Lagoon (Western Australia’s Pink Lake) and Horrocks, a laidback beach getaway with great swimming, fishing, surfing and windsurfing. Head inland to Northampton – one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia, outside of Perth – the town was classified as a historic location by the National Trust of Australia in 1993. Kalbarri and surrounds are approximately 650 kilometres north of Perth (6 hours drive) or a 45 minute flight to Geraldton airport, and a 90 minute drive to Kalbarri.
Carnarvon is a prosperous service town and holiday destination surrounded by banana plantations. It is located between Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Reef. Since the 1930s it has become famed for its produce with the rich flats of the Gascoyne River being used to grow bananas, avocados, coconuts, dates, macadamia nuts, mangoes, pawpaws, pecans, tomatoes, pineapples, melons and various varieties of beans due to the aquifers on the Gascoyne River. Today the town has a range of tourist activities and is an important service centre for the surrounding properties.
On average the Gascoyne River only flows for 120 days a year … well, flows above the surface of the riverbed for 120 days a year. It is one of the strangest sights in Australia to drive across the river – it is a broad river and the modern bridge is impressive – look below and see a totally dry riverbed and observe the pipes and pumps on the riverbanks. The river’s water table (known as its aquifers) lie below the sand and it is possible to access them by drilling through the sand until you reach the water. It is equally possible to go for a walk across the dry riverbed. It is firm – people even ride cars and motorbikes on it – and you would never know there is water below.
Exmouth is located on the eastern coast of the North West Cape 1253 km north of Perth, 13 m above sea level, and 1372 km south-west of Broome. The town was established in 1967 to support the nearby United States Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt. Beginning in the late 1970s, the town began hosting U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to Learmonth Solar Observatory, a defence science facility jointly operated with Australia’s Ionospheric Prediction Service. Bushwalk through eucalypt woodlands or climb down deep rocky gorges and enjoy breathtaking scenery. Walk over a flat spinifex plain and a succession of ancient fossil reefs, climb coastal dunes down to sandy beaches. Dive into an emerald lagoon and swim over the coral reef. They are all possible in this remarkable Cape Range National Park.
Turquoise Bay is about as good as any beach in Australia. It is known for its clear waters (there are so few people around) and its quiet, white sandy beaches. It is ideal for snorkelling and swimming. The Ningaloo Reef is only a few metres from shore. One of the unusual qualities of the bay is the strong northerly current which can be dangerous but, equally, can be used by lazy snorkellers who only have to enter the water at one end of the beach and lie watching the corals and the fish as the current takes you along the beach. It has been estimated there are 475 fish species on the reef. It is located 62 km south of Exmouth and can be accessed off Yardie Creek Road.
Karratha is located on Nickol Bay 1525 km north of Perth. Karratha is a modern town which was created to provide accommodation and services for the employees of Hamersley Iron, Robe River Associates, the Dampier Salt Company and the workers on the North West Shelf Gas and Petroleum project. It has now grown to be the largest township in the Pilbara – it is nearly twice the size of Port Hedland and accounts for about 40% of the region’s total population. Karratha takes its name from the Karratha Station which was established in 1866 by Dr Baynton and Harry Whittal-Venn. The word ‘Karratha’ is believed to have meant either “good country” or “soft earth” in the language of the local Aborigines.
A landmark in the town because of its impressive 37 metre high copper coated spire, St Paul’s Catholic Church is located on Welcome Road. The church has 24 glass windows at the base of the spire and a seating capacity of 280 people. It was officially opened in 1982 although it had been operating since 1978. The Yaburara Heritage Trail is a 3.5 km, grade 4 walk highlighting the Karratha district’s natural history and cultural heritage and in particular the heritage of the traditional owners of this land, the Ngarluma people, and their neighbours the Yaburara people. It covers rugged country with some steep climbs and descents and features a number of Aboriginal sites including rock engravings and artefact scatters. The trail commences from the water tanks overlooking the Karratha town centre and access is via the information bay on Karratha Road, next to the Karratha Visitor Centre. There are also two short branch trails and three longer branch trails – a secondary trail around the base of the hills, recreational trail following the ridge top and a nature trail along two major valleys. Allow two to three hours to enjoy the full trail at a leisurely pace.
Port Hedland is the second largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with an urban population of almost 14,000 as at the 2016 Census including the satellite town of South Hedland, 18 km away. It is also the site of the highest tonnage port in Australia. Port Hedland is known by the Indigenous Kariyarra and Nyamal people as Marapikurrinya, which either means “place of good water” (as told by a Nyamal language speaker) and makes reference to the three reliable fresh water soaks that can still be seen in and around the town, or as the town council’s website says “refers to the hand like formation of the tidal creeks coming off the harbour (marra – hand, pikurri – pointing straight and nya – a place name marker)”.
Port Hedland has a flatback sea turtle rookery, located on the main beach front. Several lookouts along the beach front path allow views of marine mammals including Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and Australian snubfin dolphins. Port Hedland’s harbour is managed by the Pilbara Ports Authority, a state government instrumentality. The Port Authority’s headquarters, control tower and heliport are at Mangrove Point, just to the west of The Esplanade at the western end of Port Hedland. The tugboat pen, customs office and public jetty are at nearby Laurentius Point. The harbour’s wharves are located on both sides of the harbour – Finucane Island to the west and Port Hedland to the east. Access by oceangoing vessels into and out of the harbour is via a narrow curved channel.
Broome is a coastal, pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,240 km (1,390 mi) north of Perth. Broome is located in the tropical north of Western Australia’s Kimberley coast on the east coast of the Indian Ocean and easterly adjacent of Gantheaume Point. Named in honour of the Java-to-Australia undersea telegraph cable which reaches shore there, Cable Beach is situated 7 km (4.3 mi) from town along a bitumen road. The beach itself is 22.5 km (14.0 mi) long with white sand, washed by tides that can reach over 9 m (30 ft). The beach is almost perfectly flat. Located directly east of Cable Beach over the dunes is Minyirr Park, a coastal reserve administered by a collaboration of the Shire of Broome and the Yawuru people.
The town has a deep history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880s to the large present-day cultured pearl farming enterprises. At first, aborigines were enslaved and forced to dive for pearls, especially women and girls. In 2010 the Shire of Broome and Kimberley commissioned a Memorial to the Indigenous Female Pearl Divers. Later Asians and Pacific Islanders were given the job instead, especially Japanese. The riches from the pearl beds did not come cheaply, however, and the town’s Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Each year Broome celebrates the fusion of different cultures brought about by the pearling industry in an annual cultural festival called Shinju Matsuri (Japanese for “festival of the pearl”).
Derby is located 2392 km north of Perth via the shorter, inland route or 2515 km via the coast road. It is 222 km north-east of Broome. Given the relative proximity of Broome (it is only 222 km down the road), Derby has the quality of a Cinderella, overwhelmed by her more “important” big sister. It is a small service town with a huge wharf surrounded by unique and special attractions. Its importance for visitors lies in its position at the western end of the Gibb River Road; its closeness to Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre with its magical exhibition of Wandjina creation images; its fascinating, if disturbing, Boab Prison tree; its access to the largest coral reef in Australia; its regular flights to the magical Horizontal Falls; and its magical story of Jandamarra (Pigeon), the daring local Aborigine who outwitted the local police and became a hero to his people. Derby is a strange outback town which, like so many of the towns in the Kimberley, is more important because of the surrounding attractions rather than any appeal that might exist within the town. It is famed for its huge tides which, at their extreme, rise and fall up to 11.8 metres leaving the town surrounded by vast mud flats.
Derby is rich in cultural diversity, with the local Indigenous culture playing a large part in the community. The Mowanjum Festival is held annually at Mowanjum Community and features a showcase of traditional art. The Boab festival is a week-long festival that includes traditional events such as mud football, watermelon seed spitting, the Mardi Gras and other festivities. Today it is recognised as a “Site of Significance” to the local Aboriginal people and there is a sign at the tree pointing out that the tree is protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and that “The significance of the Prison Boab Tree derives from its reputed use as a rest point for police & escorted Aboriginal prisoners en-route to Derby, and principally, its prior but less publicly known connection with Aboriginal traditional religious belief.” As a warning the sign also notes “that snakes are known to inhabit the tree.”