Venture into Australia’s wild and remote North-West and you will find the Pilbara. This is a place where history is etched into the solid rock, with national parks that are home to more than a million Aboriginal rock paintings, providing a visual record of a culture that has lived in this region for over 30,000 years. Towering canyons display some of the oldest rock formations found on the continent and hide tranquil swimming holes that have been two billion years in the making. Wildlife abounds in landscapes ranging from lush wetlands through to stunning archipelagos, and the oceans are home to some of the most bio-diverse marine life found in Australia. This region is at once breathtakingly old, and tantalisingly new.
Four places you must not miss when exploring Western Australia’s Pilbara region:
Murujuga National Park
Located on the Burrup Peninsula, the Murujuga National Park is a true historic and cultural treasure. This National Park is blessed with the highest concentration of ancient rock art in the world, with more than one million petroglyphs, some which date back to over 30000 years ago. The carvings form the lore of the local Aboriginal people, acting as a visual history that shows how they lived over thousands of years, as they adapted to changing land conditions and rising sea levels that came with the end of the ice age.
Some intriguing images show land and sea creatures that are now extinct, while others speak of traditional ceremonies and events of cultural significance. The Murujuga National Park is one of Australia’s most significant heritage sites, and spending time here with an Indigenous guide is the perfect way to unlock some of the mysteries that this park holds.
If you love to see animals of all shapes and sizes happily enjoying their natural environment, then look no further than Western Australia’s Dampier Archipelago. Comprised of 42 islands, 25 of which are nature reserves, this archipelago is brimming with wildlife and boasts the richest marine biodiversity in the state.
The rocky islands are home to a range of interesting creatures, from the Northern Quoll, a carnivorous marsupial the size of a small cat, through to the agile Rothschilds rock wallaby, which is able to navigate steep rocky cliffs with skill and speed. In the ocean, you can often find dolphins, dugongs, and humpback whales as well as over 650 fish species swimming amongst the colourful coral reefs and sponge gardens. This archipelago also has some of the largest turtle rookeries in the world and during summer, four different types of turtles nest on the beaches including the large and beautiful loggerhead turtle.
Millstream Chichester National Park
Covering an area of approximately 200,000 hectares, Millstream Chichester National Park is a celebration of water in all its forms. From palm fringed waterholes, to hidden rock pools and rivers teeming with fish, this nature reserve is a refreshing oasis in its desert surrounds. The rivers, rock pools and wetlands are fed by a vast underground aquifer, and the presence of permanent water has attracted an abundance of wildlife, including over 30 species of mammal, 150 species of reptiles and 110 species of birds.
This is the home of the Yindjibarndi people, who are the traditional custodians of the land, and whose Elders have shared significant stories and songs relating to important locations in the park. At one body of water known as Deep Reach, the Yindjibarndi people discourage swimming as this is the home of Barrimurdi, the Warlu (sea serpent), who in a story from the dreaming, forged waterways from Coral Bay through to the Pilbara and Kimberley regions, when he emerged from the ocean and slid across the land.
Karijini National Park
With its towering sheer cliffs and cavernous gorges, Karijini National Park is a place where you cannot help but feel small, young and almost unavoidably awestruck. Here the towering rock walls and steep canyons have been forged by geological events over the space of two billion years, and you can see some of the oldest rock formations to exist on the Australian continent. The distinctive layered rock makes Karijini National Park a photographers dream – an almost surreal landscape full of ancient gorges, emerald coloured fresh-water pools, and naturally formed amphitheatres that make you feel like you have entered another world.
One of the many jewels of the National Park is the spa pool, an ice blue pond that hides in the curved cliff walls. You approach it through a thin tree lined chasm, and as you step down to the grotto, you will feel like you are descending deep into the earth.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.