The Pilbara, a large region in the north of Western Australia is the resource heart of the state. It contains vast natural resources such as iron ore and natural gas. It is also distinguished by it’s ancient landscapes and red earth.
It is refreshing to be able to see evidence of the resource industry when passing through both Port Hedland and Karratha. You can see the iron ore ships and the piles of salt when driving through Port Hedland.
When in Karratha, it is an absolute must to drive out to the Woodside Karratha Gas Plant. This is 5 train Liquified Natural Gas Plant. On the drive out there, you will pass by the Pluto Gas Plant. There is a good view of the Karratha Gas Plant from the lookout at the visitor’s center. Despite the pitiful opening hours of the visitor’s center, it is still worth the drive out as there are plenty of informative signage and a great view of the gas plant. It is important to understand and celebrate the various industries and resources that make Australia a prosperous country.
Interestingly, due to Covid, both Karratha and Port Hedland were very busy. The caravan parks were fully booked out in both locations. This was unexpected as these towns are not usually a tourist hotspot. The influx of people was due to the restriction on international and interstate travel. More Western Australians than usual had migrated to these northern towns to escape the winter temperatures in the south. In Port Hedland, we had to utilize the overflow camping area provided by the council at the local golf course.
In the last decade, Karratha has changed a lot. A local beach, Hearson’s Cove is now part of Murujuga National Park and the gravel road to the beach has been sealed. The “city” skyline has also changed with the additional of several apartment buildings and a number of more “fancy” restaurants and cafes.
Although not part of the Pilbara region, Eighty Mile Beach is worthy of a mention. This is a 220km stretch of stunning beach about halfway between Broome and Port Hedland, in the north of Western Australia. There is a very well managed caravan park there. During low tide, the beach is expansive and perfect for a walk and/or shell collecting. Swimming is not recommended as sharks can often be seen swimming around the murky water close to shore. We saw a number of fins only about 2 meters from shore near where the waves were breaking.
In contrast, at high tide, this beach becomes a paradise for avid recreational fishing hobbyist. They line the shore, evenly spaced out and cast out with their extremely long fishing rods in the hopes of pulling in some threadfin salmon or other species.