Karratha, Western Australia

To many of you, Karratha might just be a little mining town full of red dirt, located in Northern Western Australia’s Pilbara Region. To us, however, it is a place that we were lucky enough to call our home for the better part of the last 8 years. What most people see as a good place to earn a quick buck or just to stop off for the night on their way to a holiday destination, is actually the heart to so many naturally beautiful landscapes and attractions that will take your breath away. From its beautiful beaches, rocks formations like you have never seen before, to its hidden little oases, this is a place that’s got way more to offer than meets the eye.

Ok, we must start with the obvious. Yes, it is a mining town, so you are going to have to deal with an annoyingly high-pitched reverse beeper here and there, and practically the whole town wearing hi-vis. Oh, and the red dirt (Iron Ore dust)! That stuff will follow you forever, but honestly, if that’s the worst of it, it’s not that bad then, right?

Where is Karratha?

Karratha is a town approx. 1,524kms North of Perth situation on a beautiful coastline. Karratha is just a tiny part of the Pilbara region. The Pilbara stretches over 507,896 square kilometres, meaning that the Pilbara alone is twice the size of the United Kingdom and could fit over 7 Tasmania’s inside it. That’s a lot of area to explore! With some of the most beautiful natural landscapes dating back 3.5 – 4.3 billion years, you are sure to be blown away with its unique and breathtaking area.

Relaxing at Miaree Pool
Miaree Pool

Karratha was established in 1968 to accommodate the ever-growing workforce of the mining industry within the area. The area is rich with Iron Ore and Natural Gases which are still to this day being mined 24/7. Although mining is still a massive part of Karratha, the area has so much more to offer for those who are willing to get out and explore its amazing scenery.

But don’t be fooled by its beauty, like many places this far North in Western Australia it can get extremely hot! So be careful, always have water with you and don’t forget to prepare for those hot days!

What to do in the Karratha area?

There are honestly so many places and things to do in and around Karratha, so let us begin and name just a few.

Why not start by enjoying the spectacular view over the city of Karratha? Then make your way up a short dirt track behind the Karratha Visitor Centre where you will find a beautifully decorated water tank (you should be able to get a glimpse of this from the City Centre below). It is definitely a view worth seeing. Not only does it have a fantastic view over the town, but it also has information about how Karratha came to be. From here you can also take a walk along the Yaburara Heritage Trail. This 3.5km walk highlights the Karratha district's natural history and cultural heritage. In particular the heritage of the Traditional Owners of the land, the Ngarluma people, in honour of the Yaburara people.

Dampier is the original town built for the mining boom, situated about 20 minutes out of Karratha is a stunning location. Dampier is right on the waterfront and has boat launching facilities for those looking to venture out onto the water. There are also lots of shady areas around the beach where you are sure to find yourself somewhere to kick back and enjoy the beautiful views of Dampier.

Picnic at the Dampier Palms
Dampier Palms

The Dampier Palms is a very popular spot to sit, relax and have a picnic, and be taken away by the tropical paradise feeling. There is a fantastic new playground that has recently been completed here to keep the kids entertained.

In our opinion, the best time for us to go to Dampier is right at sunset. The Pilbara puts on some pretty magical sunsets that you won’t want to miss. Head down to Dampier to enjoy that amazing glowing sun right over the islands and rippling water.

Another amazing spot located just around the corner from Dampier, along the Burrup Peninsula, is Hearson’s Cove. This beauty is one of our favourite and most special spots in Karratha for many reasons. It is a fantastic spot to take your dog for a splash, cook up some snags with the family on the supplied BBQs, watch another breathtaking sunset. If you are visiting between March to October, you might even be lucky enough to catch the Staircase to the Moon! Be sure to get there early during the peak season to claim your spot to watch one of nature’s best-kept secrets of the area.

The rock formations at Hearson’s Cove are like no other, take some time, take a wander, and see what you can find.

Be sure to also stop and check out Murujuga National Park while you are in the area. Located on the same road as Hearson’s Cover is a beautiful walk-in amongst the large rock formations, always be on the lookout for the Aboriginal Rock Art scattered along these magnificent rocks.

Just a hop skip and a jump down further down the Burrup Peninsula you will come across Withnell Bay. This spot is the starting point for the infamous ‘Jump Up’. The Jump Up is a 4WD track taking you to some of the area’s most beautiful and secluded beaches and natural wildlife.

But be careful! The Jump Up has that name for a reason, the start of the track is renowned for leaving a few bumps, bruises, and breaks on your 4wd rig. Be sure to always be careful and make sure that someone knows where you are going on that trip.

Wanting to take a look at the beautiful islands that Karratha has to offer, but you don’t have a boat? Make sure that you check out the Archipelago Adventures boat cruise. We were super privileged to be able to go aboard one of these cruises on our most recent stop through Karratha with a huge thanks to Madi’s Mum and Dad (Renate and Steve). It was such a brilliant day spent with Madi’s family exploring the island and learning more about the area. This cruise is only new, and we know that it is only going to get bettering with time. This is certainly a great addition to the Karratha area, and we know that tourists and locals are just going to love jumping aboard and seeing so much of what Karratha has been missing out on for years.


Interested in all the mining? Why not have a look into one of the mine site tours and get all the knowledge on what is really happening behind the scenes of these massive company’s, I’m sure you will be surprised by all the technological advancements that have been made over the years.

One thing that never gets old is watching the massive Iron Ore trains chugging along as you are driving. No matter how many times we saw them we still found it hard to not pull over, film it as it passed and try to count how many carriages there were. These trains haul along 240 wagons spanning over 2.4kms long, pulling around 28,000 tonnes of iron-ore. This requires two to three locomotives to pull all that weight along! The Rio Tinto trains are now fully automated and watched by operators out of Perth however this was not always the case. They travel on average 800kms from 16 different mine sites with a 40-hour journey to depots at Dampier and Cape Lambert (Point Samson) so going automated was a huge step for them.

Point Sampson is a beautiful little coastal town located around 40 minutes out of Karratha. It is known for its very popular local tavern which offers one of the best feeds of fish and chips you will ever have. The Point Samson Tavern doesn’t only have amazing food but the best view of the ocean. From here you will be able to see all Iron Ore ships waiting to be filled up at Cape Lambert and head overseas. We love trying to see how many we can spot in the distance, one day we believe we could see 18 out there waiting! If you are visiting during whale season (July – September) you might also be lucky enough to spot a whale cruising around out there.

The beaches here are absolutely beautiful and it is definitely worth a wander at low tide to see what creatures might be hiding in all the rock pools.

If staying closer to town is more your style, then you are in luck. In the last couple of years, Karratha has found itself having so many wonderful eateries and cafes opening their doors. There are so many wonderful places to try out while you are in town.

If you have the time, a drive out to Millstream Chichester National Park is a place that you have to go visit! It is around 100kms out of Karratha and there are some dirt roads, so we understand that this might not be for everyone. But, if you are wanting to take a dip in the water, Millstream has a permeant watering hole ‘Deep Reach’ that is good for swimming all year round. This is great considering in the summer months, the majority of watering holes around the Pilbara are bone dry. Another beautiful spot in the Millstream National Park is Python Pool. This gorgeous little oasis is nestled at the bottom of a spectacular rock face that after a really big rainfall has a waterfall running down it! If it isn’t raining, don’t worry, Python Pool is still worth the visit. There is usually a little bit of water in there if you are wanting to go for a swim, however, just going there to take in the area is worth the drive!

Where can I stay?

There are plenty of places to stay. In town, there are 3 different Caravan Parks that you can choose from, both catering to the campers, caravaners, and those wanting a room.

  • Discovery Holiday Park - https://www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au/caravan-parks/western-australia/pilbara-pilbara-karratha?gclid=CjwKCAjwh5qLBhALEiwAioods0vsYft9Rs0TpYrZrLFWlkkaKZeSBGICiYWyv3yIrx-CHJHnOGzuxxoC_0oQAvD_BwE&ef_id=CjwKCAjwh5qLBhALEiwAioods0vsYft9Rs0TpYrZrLFWlkkaKZeSBGICiYWyv3yIrx-CHJHnOGzuxxoC_0oQAvD_BwE:G:s&gclsrc=aw.dsKarratha Caravan Park - https://www.karrathacaravanpark.com.au/

  • Dampier Caravan Park - https://www.dampier.org.au/caravan-park

There are also 9 different hotels/units that you can stay at.

If being just out of town is more your style, then we would suggest looking into staying at places like Miaree Pool, Cleaverville, or 40 Mile Beach.

There are so many beautiful hidden gems around Karratha that we couldn’t even begin to put them in one post. If you are moving to Karratha, or just hanging around for a couple of months, we highly recommend getting involved with the Red Dog 4WD Club. We were a part of this club for a couple of years and honestly, those guys became our family. Not only that but we found out about so many breathtaking spots that we would have never known about otherwise just by being a part of the club.

In our opinion, Karratha is such an amazing place with so much outdoor life to offer. We are undoubtedly a bit biased about this beautiful town and it will always hold a place in our hearts and maybe even a bit like ‘home’ to us. But with so many people creating new opportunities within the town, there is so much to do, and we honestly feel that given the chance you will find a soft spot for this incredibly overlooked town just as we have.

Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park. Approx. 280kms from Karratha

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