Karratha

A sister town to the port of Dampier, it operates as the administrative and commercial centre of the region and the massive North West Shelf Project. Located on Nickol Bay, it provides 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.

The North West Shelf Project, situated on nearby Burrup Peninsula, has been supplying gas to domestic and industrial users in WA since August 1984 and in 1989 it began exporting liquefied natural gas to Japan. Its rigs may be sighted if they are in the bay for maintenance.

Fenaclng Festival

Each year in August Karratha holds a Fenaclng Festival. Reflecting the mining background of the region, its name is an acronym of the chemical symbols for iron (Fe), salt (NaCL) and the abbreviation for liquefied natural gas (LNG). A fundraiser, the festival is a popular community event.

Burrup Peninsula

The site of hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal rock engravings that are distributed over an area of 88 sq. km, and to see them necessitates some four-wheeled means of transport.

The rock art ranges from small engravings of Emu tracks to very large ones representing a corroborree or ceremony, and even Aboriginal figures climbing a ship's mast. They depict a Tasmanian tiger, whales, kangaroos, emus and thousands of Aboriginal ceremonies.


Dampier Archipelago

A string of 42 pristine islands that lie off the coast of Dampier and Point Samson. The islands’ white sandy beaches and blue waters also make them an ideal location for swimming or just lazing the day away.

Dugong and bottlenose dolphins are often sighted in the waters of the Dampier Archipelago, while humpback whales are regularly seen between July and September, as they make their way north to breed. Green, loggerhead, flatback and hawksbill turtles use the beaches during the nesting season, from September to April.

Located on the Burrup Peninsula between Karratha and Dampier, Hearsons Cove is one of the many beautiful beaches in this region. This lovely sheltered cove is a popular swimming and picnic spot all year round and is ideal for children as its water is calm and clear.


Pilbara Railway Historical Society

Created to preserve for future generations a small part of the rapidly developing heavy haul railway scene of the Pilbara. The museum complex houses numerous retired locomotives, rolling stock and a features a miniature rail track to promote interest in railways through the children of the Pilbara.


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Where is it?

1,550 km north of Perth.


Jaburara Heritage Trail

A 3.5 kilometre walk highlighting the Karratha districts natural history and cultural heritage and in particular its traditional inhabitants, the Jaburara Aboriginal Tribe. The trail traces the culture and lifestyle of those inhabitants, the impact of white settlement since the 1860s and the even more spectacular effects of the resources boom from the early 1960s.


Staircase To The Moon

Between March and October each year, when conditions are just right, visitors to the North West region of WA are treated to a natural spectacle. This natural phenomenon occurs only when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats at times of extremely low tides, creating the optical illusion of a staircase reaching for the moon. The best viewing spots are at Roebuck Bay in Broome; Cooke Point in Port Hedland; the Lookout at Cossack; Hearson's Cove, located on the Burrup Peninsula between Karratha and Dampier; and Sunrise Beach in Onslow.


Brief history

The Karratha area was first settled as a result of F. W. Gregory's glowing reports about the pastoral potential of the Pilbara. In 1866 Dr Baynton and Harry Whittal-Venn established Karratha Station. The name 'Karratha' supposedly meant 'good country' in the language of the local Aborigines. The station continued to operate under Baynton and Whittal-Venn until 1879.

Karratha homestead and pastoral station was established in 1866, but was resumed in 1968 for a townsite. Karratha came into existence because of the Hamersley Iron Project and the lack of suitable land for expansion at the port of Dampier. It has become a base for visitors to explore Dampier, Roebourne, Wickham, Cossack and Point Samson.

Today it is home to over 7000 people and its population continues to increase. A modern but rather soulless town, Karratha has taken on a life of its own and the number of service industries continues to grow. It is the only town in the north west to have a major industrial estate servicing the needs of the community. It is planned that the town will eventually house over 30 000 people. Inevitably the administrative functions of the Pilbara have all been moved to the town.

Karratha is an Aboriginal word meaning 'good country', it was originally the name of a property owned by Dr. Bayton and Harry Whittal Venn.

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