Tom Price Historical Photo

The Shire Of Ashburton Is Celebrating Its Rich History This Winter

byPerth Is OK Staff
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Over the past few weeks we’ve been diving into the Shire of Ashburton (taking in Tom Price, Onslow, Paraburdoo and Pannawonica) as an untapped part of WA worth popping in for a visit when you’re next in the Pilbara region.

From spectacular reefs and ranges to its status as the stargazing capital of Western Australia, there’s something for everyone around the Shire, including our topic for today – history and culture. And it just so happens that in June of this year the Shire celebrates its 50th anniversary with a host of fun community events happening in Tom Price and Onslow.

Read on to find out more, and head to the Shire Of Ashburton Website for more info.

Old Onslow

Originally gazetted as a townsite way back in October 1885 and a short drive from where Onslow is now, the old Onslow supported stations established along the Ashburton River like Minderoo, before becoming the home port for pearling luggers. Nowadays visitors can check out the old townsite and stone remains of the jail (pictured below), and grab a heritage trail map for a self-guided walking tour of the old townsite from the Onslow Visitor Centre.

Back in town, the Visitor Centre is housed within the Old Goods Shed Museum, itself home to a wonderful collection of old machinery, rolling stock and memorabilia like a 1928 petrol locomotive. It’s just one of many great attractions around Onslow, including the Onslow Salt Fields, Ian Blair Memorial Walkway, Bobby’s Tree and plenty more.

Onslow Old

Top Town Tom Price

Quite literally Tom Price is WA’s “Top Town” – sitting pretty at 747 metres above sea level it’s the highest town in WA and serves as the kick-off point for tourism hot spots like Karijini National Park and Hamersley Ranges. Named after Thomas Moore Price, it’s a nod to the town’s long association with mining in WA, and as such mining and history buffs will find plenty to discover.

The best way to really dig into that history is by jumping on a mining tour with Go West Tours, where you can experience just how massive Rio Tinto’s open cut iron ore mine – one of the world’s largest. The 1.5-hour tour gets you right into the nuts and bolts of the mine, including the Haul Truck workshop area, pit lookout, crushing and screening plants and more.

Tom Price Mine Tour
Image by @lesphotography

Karijini Visitor Centre

No trip to Karijini National Park is complete without a visit to the stunning Karijini Visitor Centre, just off Banyjima Drive (eastern section) – open every day year round outside of a period of 6-9weeks from mid-December. The design is symbolic to the traditional Banyjima land owners, resembling a goanna moving through country.

This is further reflected inside the building, jam packed with interactive displays filled with yarns about Aboriginal culture, people and places and how integral they are to the Karijini story. It’s also a great place to visit before you commence your onward journey to the gorges of Karijini, where you can pay your entry fees, chat to staff, grab a map or more tour information.

Karijini Visitor Centre

50th Anniversary Celebrations

After forming in 1972 the West Pilbara Shire Council became the Shire of Ashburton in 1987 in an effort to form its own identity separate from Karratha, and 100 years after the establishment of the Ashburton Road Board. It also marks the region where the Ashburton River flows through its four major townsites: Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Onslow and Pannawonica.

To mark the 50th anniversary there’ll be celebrations across those towns, including June 11 at the Mountain View Sporting Club in Tom Price, featuring live music including Ian Moss and The Black Sorrows (pictured below), food vans, carnival rides, bungee trampolines and more.

The following weekend Onslow is celebrating with a Family Fun Day with an ice skating rink, mini golf, archery, rock climbing and more, including a free concert on Thalanyji Oval headlined by The Choirboys and a pop up bar courtesy of Froth Brewery.

If you’re in the area over June, make sure you keep an eye on the Shire of Ashburton on Facebook and Instagram for more events to be announced.

Historical Image credits: State Library Of Western Australia

This article is sponsored by Shire Of Ashburton and very happily endorsed by us. Please see our Editorial Policy for more info.