THE WARLU WAY PILBARA RED DOG HIGHWAY
NASA SAYS IT'S JUST LIKE MARS...
WE SAY YEAH, BUT WITH REMOTE SERENITY.
AQUA BLUE WATERS.
RED PLUNGING GORGES.
EVERY WAY LEADS TO AN EXPERIENCE.
Named in honour of both the famed Kelpie cattle dog who frequented the region, and the traditional Aboriginal name for the area, this drive route starts in Dampier, then traverses the heart of the Pilbara, including the magnificent Millstream Chichester National Park and finishes at Tom Price.
THE WARLU RED DOW HIGHWAY WAY STARTS IN DAMPIER AND COVERS THE STUNNING MILLSTREAM CHICHESTER NATIONAL PARK AND FINISHES AT TOM PRICE.
RED DOG WAY THINGS YOU MUST DO.
1. GO SNORKELLING, DIVING AND FISHING OFFSHORE.
Head out to the Montebello Islands Marine Park. It covers an eye-watering more than 58,000 hectares of ocean and has over 250 low-lying limestone islands and islets. Its coral reefs, colourful tropical fish, wildlife and maritime heritage area paradise for fishers, snorkellers and divers. FYI, trips to the islands depart from Dampier.
2. BE A DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO NATURE EXPLORER.
With 42 islands and islets of the Dampier Archipelago to explore, the chances of you running into another person are minimal, giving you the opportunity to unwind and discover the coast’s untamed wilderness. The archipelago is a haven of coral reefs, sponge gardens and more than 650 species of fish. It’s also home to green, hawksbill, and flatback turtles that nest on its beaches. Dugongs, whales and dolphins can also been spotted too. Island wildlife includes wader birds and wallabies.
3. DO A DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO DAY TRIP.
Take a day trip to enjoy a tour, dive and snorkel or just while away the hours on your boat amongst the islands, of which 25 are nature reserves. Many of the islands are perfect for day trips. While there are no facilities, camping is permitted on some of the islands such as Enderby, Eaglehawk, Dolphin and Gidley Island. Here’s an awesome experience – take Helispirit’s Ultimate Islands Flight + Beach Landing tour. You’ll fly over the archipelago and also enjoy an island picnic!
4. SEE DAMPIER’S RED DOG MEMORIAL AND MORE.
Here’s a true Australian icon that you must experience. Dampier is home to the ‘Red Dog’ memorial. He became a Pilbara legend for his series of owners and travelling on his own throughout the region, making mates along his many journeys. His memorial is on the way into town, and you can follow the Red Dog Trail to discover more about the North West’s favourite canine and his remarkable story. Fun fact – Dampier is the largest tonnage shipping port in Australia and houses the massive export facilities of Hamersley Iron, Dampier Salt and the North West Gas Shelf Project. Dampier is also the departure point for day cruises to the spectacular Dampier Archipelago. Take a day to explore Murujuga National Park, which is home to fascinating rock art.
5. VISIT A WORLD FAMOUS ANCIENT PETROGLYPH ROCK ART GALLERY.
The highest concentration of petroglyphs rock engravings of any known site in the world is at The Burrup Peninsula Murujuga National Park. With Aboriginal people living there for more than 50,000 years, the engravings (petroglyphs) have been estimated to be as old as 40,000 years. The petroglyphs are diverse, depicting a record of human figures and birds, to marine life and extinct creatures, the art provides an insight into and ancient world.
6. HAVE SOME NATURE MEET-UPS.
The Burrup Peninsula is home to 30% of all plants and animals that live in the Pilbara. You’ll see the northern quoll, Rothschild’s rock-wallaby, echidnas, common rock rat and the petitely named delicate mouse. Shady valleys contain temporary pools, and provide interesting wildlife homes such as for the Pilbara olive python who live amongst the rock piles.
7. SNUGGLE INTO SOME NATURE-BASED CAMPING EXPERIENCES.
Millstream Chichester National Park, near the town of Roebourne, offers some of the best nature-based camping in the Pilbara. Sip your morning coffee to a wide-open vista of rolling hills, escarpments, tree-lined rivers and water pools at Millstream Chichester National Park. Covering an area of approximately 200,000 hectares around the Fortescue River – the heartland of the Yindjibarndi people – the park is lush oasis of deep gorges and palm-fringed rock pools, which provide a stark contrast to the surrounding rocky red escarpments and rolling yellowy-sage spinifex-covered hills. Fun fact – water run-off from the Hamersley Ranges flows via the Fortescue River into an underground aquifer that’s believed to contain in excess of 1,700 million cubic metres of water and cover an area of almost 2,000 square kilometres. There are a range of walking and bike trails within the park along with other great attractions.
8. SEE HOW EARLY SETTLERS LIVED AT MILLSTREAM STATION.
Attracted by the bounty of water under Millstream Chichester National Park, early European settlers established a pastoral station where the park now sits. The cattle station remained in operation for over 100 years and is now the Millstream Homestead Visitor Centre. It’s where you can get information about the park’s attractions as well as the life of the Yinjibardni people and the early pastoral settlers. Explore station life in Millstream in the 1930s following the fascinating and insightful 750m Homestead Trail.
9. TAKE THE SNAPPY GUM DRIVE FOR PANORAMIC LOOKOUT VIEWS.
Snappy Gum Drive is a 20km scenic loop road. It links the Millstream Homestead Visitor Centre with Pannawonica Road. Stop at the many scenic lookouts which provide beautiful views across the Fortescue River Valley. Undulating hills and several important indigenous areas can be seen from the road. Its easily accessed by 4WD vehicles year-round and by 2WD (low clearance) vehicles when indicated on signs found at either entrance point.
10. HIKE AND SWIM IN MILLSTREAM CHICHESTER NATIONAL PARK.
Don’t let the name put of you off but Python Pool is a stunning rock pool swim spot. Not only refreshing it also has a spectacular backdrop of the imposing rugged ochre cliffs. Python Pool is easily accessible by road, via the Roebourne-Wittenoom Road within the park, and a walking trail. If you like a good hike, take The Camel Trail. It starts at Python Pool and is an eight kilometres, three hour (one way) moderate walk. The trail winds its way up through rolling Spinifex covered hills and large termite mounds to the sandstone escarpment of the Chichester Range. Another fabulous swim spot is Deep Reach Pool. Just a 200m walk from the Deep Reach Pool carpark brings you to a large pool, home of Barrimurdi, the Warlu or Serpent. The Yinibardni people ask that you respect the site and keep noise to a minimum. Fishing, swimming and canoeing is permitted, however motorised watercraft is not.
11. HEAD UP TO MOUNT HERBERT FOR EVEN MORE PANORAMIC VIEWS.
Another fabulous lookout is at Mount Herbert. It forms part of the Chichester Range and is in the picturesque Millstream Chichester National Park. Park your car at the base of the mountain and take the challenging 45 minute return climb. Mount Herbert’s peak offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
12. LEARN THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOCAL ABORIGINAL SITES.
The Yindjibarndi people are the traditional landowners of WA’s Millstream Chichester National Park. The Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation has produced “Ngurra Wardurala Buluyagayi: Exploring Yindjibarndi Country”. In consultation with the elders, the Corporation has compiled accurate site descriptions, including songs and stories that are linked to the land, in English and Yindjibarndi. The book also includes a fold-out (A3) map of Millstream Chichester National Park making this an essential guide for any visitor who seeks a deeper understanding of Yindjibarndi country. Pick up your copy up from the Millstream Homestead Visitor Centre and also find out the best camping spots too.
13. DRIVE UP TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S HIGHEST TOWN.
At 747 metres, Tom Price is the highest town in Western Australia! Named after Thomas Moore Price, the vice-president of the giant United States steel company Kaiser Steel, Price was one of the main supporters of the Pilbara region in the early 1960s. The most prominent feature of Tom Price is the peak known as Mt Nameless (1,128 metres) or Jurndamurneh to the local Aboriginal people, meaning ‘wallabies live near here’. Its summit is accessed along a four-wheel drive track, and it is also possible to hike to the summit for amazing views of the local landscapes. Take an organised tour of the massive Rio Tinto Iron Ore Mine on tour. Or pack a picnic and head out to natural bush setting of Kings Lake which has barbeques and gazebos. The town offers a caravan park and hotel/motel as accommodation options.
14. HIKE WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S 2ND HIGHEST ACCESSIBLE MOUNTAIN.
Mount Nameless, known as Jarndunmunha to local Aboriginal people, is located in Tom Price. Its peak stands 1128 metres above sea level and is the second highest accessible mountain by four-wheel drive in Western Australia – which offers all of the rewards of a spectacular mountain view without the hike! Or if you’re keen to stretch your legs and work on those glutes, you can hike to the summit. A walking trail starts from the base of Mount Nameless at back of the Tom Price Speedway track, just allow three hours for the return hike. From the lookout you’ll have sweeping views across the Hammersley Ranges, the town of Tom Price and the iron ore mining operations.