Pilbara Coast

Centred around the towns of Karratha and Roebourne, the West Pilbara Coast boasts excellent weather, great fishing, spectacular scenery, clear blue waters to swim in, glorious sunsets and the wonder of the spectacular natural phenomenon, Staircase to the Moon. The region is a mix of old and new - ancient Aboriginal rock art and historic towns of Cossack and Roebourne stand alongside iron ore loading facilities where giant ore carriers come and go.

Dampier

A company town and port of Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. which operates mines at Tom Price and Paraburdoo 290 km to the east in the Hamersley Ranges. The town was created in the 1960s for workers at Hamersley Iron's bulk loading terminal on King Bay. Its name recalls British sea captain William Dampier, who visited and explored the coastal region in 1688 aboard Capt. Swan's Cygnet, returning in 1699 aboard Roebuck. His findings were published in two volumes which were the first descriptions about the Australian continent to be published.

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Karratha

A sister town to Dampier, it operates as the administrative and commercial centre of the region and the massive North West Shelf Project, situated on nearby Burrup Peninsula. 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.

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Port Hedland

The oldest port in the Pilbara region, Port Hedland today serves the iron ore mines of Mt Goldsworthy, Shay Gap and Mt Newman. Built on an island 13 km long and 1.6 km wide, it is connected to the mainland by four long causeways over tidal creeks. South Hedland was established in the early 1970s to house the workforce that increased dramatically after the establishment of the shipping operations associated with Mt. Newman Mining Company.

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Roebourne

An old goldming town, Roebourne prospered during its gold boom of the late 19th century and was once the biggest settlement between Darwin and Perth. Now the administrative cdentre of the West Pilbara Coast region, Roebourne has retained its special character with its historic buildings and pioneering history. The town has continued to develop and is a thriving hub for Aboriginal enterprise and culture.

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Hearsons Cove

Located on the Burrup Peninsula between Karratha and Dampier, this 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. It’s also one of only a few locations where you can view the spectacular Staircase to the Moon event. Hearsons Cove is a half-hour drive from Karratha.

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Cape Keraudren

A Nature Reserve, Cape Keraudren is a popular rest stop for travellers driving from the West Pilbara Coast to Broome. Here there are turtles, sea anemones and octopus to be found in its many tidal pools. White sands, aquamarine waters and fabulous fishing not to mention the mud crabs make this a very pretty and interesting spot. Its pristine white sands, which stretch as far as the eye can see, mark the beginning of Eighty Mile Beach. Cape Keraudren is 165km north of Port Hedland.

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Wickham

Wickham was constructed as recently as 1970 by Cliffs Robe River Iron Associates. The aim was to create a processing plant for the iron ore mined at nearby Pannawonica, a port (at Cape Lambert) from which to ship the produce, and a town to house the associated employees. The settlement was named after J.C. Wickham, the captain of HMS Beagle, who surveyed the north-west coast in 1840.

Dampier Archipelago

A string of 42 pristine islands that lie off the coast of Dampier and Point Samson. Home to a large and diverse number of marine species, 25 of the islands are protected as part of the Dampier Archipelago Marine Park, making them one of Western Australia's best diving and snorkelling spots. 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. This coastal playground also offers world-class fishing spots for deep water, reef or sheltered inlet fishing.

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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 - the Staircase to the Moon. This natural phenomenon of the Staircase to the Moon 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 staircase occurs three nights each month from March to October. The best viewing spots are at Roebuck Bay in Broome; Cooke Point in Port Hedland; the Lookout at Cossack; Hearson's Cove, located on Burrup Peninsula between Karratha and Dampier; and Sunrise Beach in Onslow.

Local night markets are often held at Town Beach in Broome on Staircase to the Moon dates, where you can sample local fare, purchase crafts and see talented local entertainers perform.

Note: being a natural phenomenon, the Staircase to the Moon cannot be guaranteed to be seen due to prevailing weather conditions on the day.

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Cossack

This former centre for pearling activities in the region, now a ghost town, has been turned into a tourist attraction. Situated at the mouth of the Harding River 12 km north of Roebourne, Cossack prospered for many years through pearling until the turn of the 20th century, when the port silted up and its activities were transferred to Port Samson.

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Burrup Peninsula

"The Burrup," as the locals call it, is the site of hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal rock engravings that are distributed over an area of 88 sq. km. Situated 28 kilometres northwest of Karratha the peninsula - once an island - takes its name from its highest hill, Mt. Burrup. The former island in the Dampier Archipelago was connected with the mainland by a causeway for a railway line and a road in 1979.

Deep Gorge is at the centre of the peninsula's wonderful natural record of Aboriginal culture. This area is recognised as one of the most prolific Aboriginal art sites in Australia. Over 10,000 individual rock engravings (petroglyphs) and etchings have been located in this archaeologically rich region. 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.

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Barrow Island

In 1954, geologists working for West Australian Petroleum (WAPET) recognised the potential for oil fields. Oil first flowed on Barrow Island on 7th July 1964, and on 26 May 1966 Barrow was declared a commercial field. Within 8 years, WAPET had produced its 100 millionth barrel of oil from Barrow Island. Today, there are over 400 production wells on the island. Production peaked in 1971 at 50000 barrels a day. The average today is around 14000 barrels per day.

The first European record of the island was made in 1622 by John Brooks, master of the Dutch East India Company ship Tryal. In 1818, Lieutenant Phillip Parker King, who was surveying the northwest Australian coast, named the island 'Barrow's Island', after John Barrow, a Secretary of the British Admiralty.

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Point Samson

Surrounded by the powerhouses of Australian mining, Point Samson is truly one of the most unspoilt and picturesque seaside villages in North Western Australia. The beautiful sandy beaches of Point Samson are protected by fringing coral reefs offering good protection for swimming, snorkelling or even a spot of fishing. The tidal rivers of the area contain an immense variety of fish and other sea delicacies including Barramundi, Red Emperor, Prawns, Blue Manna Crabs and huge Mud Crabs. This peaceful seaside town offers a wide range of accommodation options, from four-star resorts and boutique bed and breakfasts to modern caravan parks and holiday homes. No wonder some travel writers are calling Point Samson the next Broome.

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