Millstream Chichester National Park: Everything you need to know

Python Pool, Millstream Chichester National Park
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Millstream Chichester National Park is often described as an oasis in the desert.

And with deep, spring-fed pools and rivers located in the heart of the Pilbara it’s easy to see why.

What is it?

Home to the picturesque Python Pool, the park sprawls over approx. 200,000 hectares. Explore the rugged Chichester Ranges, rolling spinifex covered hills and plains as well as rock pools, rivers and water lily filled wetlands created by natural freshwater springs in the Millstream area fed by the Fortescue River.

Where is it?

Located in the Pilbara, Millstream Chichester National Park is about a 16 hour drive from Perth (about 1500km) via the coastal road. Check out fab places like Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Shark Bay and  Exmouth as you travel north. You can also travel via Meekatharra and Newman along the Great Northern Highway and explore Karijini on the way. If you’re not up for a road trip, there are flights to nearby towns of Karratha or Roebourne and Millstream Chichester National Park is then a couple hours drive further south.

What to do?

Swim, hike, cycle, camp and explore! The national park is home to pools and gorges, scenic drives and walking trails.

Swim: The idyllic Python Pool should be at the top of your list when you’re visiting the park. A short walk along a creek bed reveals a natural amphitheater and seasonal waterfall that flows after heavy summer rain. Jump in for a swim in the deep pool that’s nestled along the base of imposing red cliffs of the Chichester Range. The spring fed pool can be icy cold though! You’ll find it close to the Roebourne-Wittenoom Road and it has picnic and bbq facilities as well as walking trails.

Millstream Chichester National Park Python Pool

Nearby you’ll also find Deep Reach Pool. The pool, located on the Fortescue River, is a sacred place to the Yindjibarndi people as it is home to the Warlu serpent and visitors are asked to treat the site with respect. As the name suggests the water here is deep, so it’s a great spot for swimming, kayaking and canoeing. You’ll also find shady picnic tables and day use facilities here.

Hike: Explore the many trails throughout the park which includes the Homestead trail, a short 750 metre walk where you can learn about the Yindjibarndi people, pastoral life on the station and visit the old homestead built in 1920 which now serves as the visitor centre. The walk continues around the picturesque, water lily filled Jirndawurrunha Pool which has important cultural significance for the Yindjibarndi people and swimming is not allowed at the pool.

If you’re after a challenging hike, follow part of the old camel track along the aptly named Camel Trail which takes you from Mt Herbert to Python Pool. Regarded as one of Trails WA’s top trails, begin the 16km return walk at Python Pool and checkout Cameleers Lookout and Mckenzie Springs along the way as the trail winds through incredible scenery and rugged sandstone terrain. The hike can also be completed one way if you’re able to organise a vehicle to meet you at the end of the track. If you are walking one way, hit the trail in the early morning at Mt Herbert to avoid hiking in the midday heat and finish up at Python Pool for a refreshing swim.

The hike isn’t recommended in summer months and if you’re after a shorter walk you can complete small sections of this trail to the Cameleers Lookout (2.4 km) or to Mckenzie Spring (4.5 km), a waterhole that was used in the past by camel and bullock teams when they used the track to deliver supplies between the port at Cossack and inland stations.

Hit the trails for some impressive panoramic Pilbara views: the Mount Herbert summit trail in the Chichester Range is steep but well worth the effort and in the Millstream region the cliff top walk offers great views over the Fortescue River and the distant Hamersley Ranges. 

Cycle: Grab your bike and check out the bike trail that takes you from the Homestead to Cliff Lookout.

Camp: Take your pick of two campsites within the park, both of which have bush toilets and basic bbq facilities. Miliyanha Campground, located near the homestead, can be booked online here and Stargazers Campground can be booked online here up to 180 days in advance, and it’s important to check if the roads are open to them first. Neither campground has powered sites, but generators are permitted at Miliyanha between 8am and 8pm. If you’re after something a lot more remote, George River is a great spot for experienced campers and 4WDers; the bush camp is located at the end of a rough and rocky 10km dirt trail.

What not to do:

Come unprepared: This is a very remote area with little/no supplies, so stock up and carry everything you’ll need including food, fuel and water before you arrive. As always, take plenty of water with you on hikes, leave no trace and take all your rubbish with you. Check for road conditions before you leave as many of the roads in the park are unsealed. If you’re headed from Karijini take a shortcut via the Rio Tinto Access Road. You’ll need a permit to travel on rail access roads, but this can be organised at the Karratha or Tom Price visitor centres. 

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Don’t forget to pack your Parks Pass! There’s a daily park entry fee per vehicle if you don’t have a Parks Pass (available from here) and daily entry passes are available at park entrances. If you’re an RAC member, you can get 50% off the price of digital park passes here.

During the dryer months, the water at Python Pool can sometimes become stagnant and swimming is not recommended. Pets and fires are also not permitted in the park.

Anything else:

The best time to visit is between April and October. During these months the day time temperatures are warm with cooler nights; perfect for hiking and swimming. Keep an eye out for stunning flowers that carpet the Pilbara landscape during wildflower season between June to August and check out the incredible sprawling displays of Sturt Desert Pea and Mulla Mulla. Try to avoid the summer months between November and March as daytime temperatures can get extremely hot and you’ll also have the added risk of cyclones, thunderstorms and heavy rains.

The park is of great significance to the Yindjibarndi people and Deep Pool is a sacred place as it is the home of the Warlu serpent and visitors are asked to keep noise to a minimum and treat the site with respect.

Image Credit: Shutterstock