One gets the feeling that this will be the last year West Aussies will have our beautiful State all to ourselves for exploration as we have the past couple of years. And while the impending influx of tourists can only be a good thing, it means time is running out to make sure you get out and wander out yonder if you want to enjoy it without busloads of visitors to contend with.
One such region you absolutely must tick off your WA bucket list is all the wonders of the Shire of Ashburton, featuring not only the spectacular Karijini National Park, but also a variety of must-see destinations within the Pilbara region, stretching from those ancient gorges all the way west to where the red dirt meets the brilliant blue sea.
Read on below to learn a little more about the region, and start planning your own trip via the Shire Of Ashburton Website or downloading the Warlu Way App – highlighting and promoting the spectacular tourist attractions of WA’s Pilbara region as a drive destination.
Fun fact: Tom Price is the highest town in Western Australia at almost 750m above sea level, and is the perfect homebase for your exploration of this part of the Pilbara region given it’s only an hour from Karijini National Park. The town itself offers some unique opportunities of its own, including mine site tours, Aboriginal carvings and Mt Nameless AKA Jarndunmunha (pictured, above).
Being only an hour from Karijini means you’re just a short trip away from all it has to offer, including spider walking through gorges, swimming in Hamersley Gorge and Fern Pool, canyoning tours and much more. It’s also only a few hours from the spectacular Millstream Chichester National Park – read our full guide here.
We’re in mining country now, and Paraburdoo is a 40-year-old town built for specifically that purpose, on the fringes of the Hamersley Ranges. Thanks to permanent water source Palm Springs, it’s a part of the Pilbara filled with stunning scenery and diverse wildlife, including fantastic bird watching if that’s your bag.
Importantly it’s also a heritage site for the Innawonga People, and if you’re making your way by plane to Karajini, Paraburdoo is where you’ll fly into. Make sure you check out the Resilience Sculpture in town (pictured above), and stop by Kelly’s Pool for a picnic (although no swim unfortunately). And if you’re a ‘Red Dog’ fan – this is where he was born!
While Pannawonica is a ‘closed town’ (limited facilities and no accommodation for visitors, only miners), it’s definitely worth a stopover. It’s part of the 2500 million year old Hamersley Group of rocks, and contains the stunning Pannawonica Hill (pictured above). Almost equally impressive is the town’s famed Boot Tree – a local tradition where people who leave town permanently throw their boots over this one tree.
If you’re in town at the right time, they also operate a free open cinema some nights, and the famous Robe River Rodeo, which usually goes down around September – giddy up!
From the rugged, red landscapes of the Shire’s inland towns, head west to find sunny Onslow, a beautiful coastal town that really shines in the drier months of April to September. The oldest town of the Ashburton Shire, it’s rich cultural history includes pearl luggers, cyclone devastation and Japanese bombing during the second World War!
Indeed if you love your history, nature and most importantly, fishing, Onslow is the place to go. The Heritage Trail and Ian Blair Memorial Walkway are great for those who like to learn and walk at the same time, while the Termite Mound Viewing Area, Bobby’s Tree and Onslow Salt provide some interesting vistas. Onslow is also one of the best spots in WA to view the Staircase To The Moon phenomenon, the Ashburton River offers some great fishing and swimming, and if you’ve got some time some great Fishing Charters run from April to October.
There are also plenty of places to stay, including Discovery Park Onslow, Ocean View Caravan Park, Onslow Beach Resort, Onslow Sun Chalets and if you really want to get amongst nature, Mackerel Islands Resort (pictured above) regularly has sea turtles, dolphins and whales visit!
Start planning your Shire Of Ashburton adventure today via their Website.