Karratha and Cleaverville

From Onslow, we head further north west and base ourselves at a nature-based bush camp at Cleaverville for a week. This is an ideal spot as it is central to the area and lets us visit the local towns of Karratha, Dampier, Roebourne, Wickham, Cossack and Point Sampson. We find a beautifully isolated spot with the ocean literally on our doorstep. Spot the caravan in the picture circled in red.

Siobhan and I have been extremely impressed with both the State and Local Governments of Western Australia. There are an abundance of Rest Areas, Free Camps, Bush Camps and National Parks where it is relatively easy to spend little money to stay and be treated to some wonderful places and sights. We are now pleased we invested in solar panels which has given us the freedom to spend time much closer to nature.

Onslow And Old Onslow

After reaching the coast road again we head back up north to visit the places we missed by taking a detour to Karijini N P. The first stop we make is to free camp on the Ashburton River close to the ruins Old Onslow. (New) Onslow is now the site of the relocated town and is situated nearby on the Pilbara coast, 1,386 Kms north of Perth.

Onslow is not the place to live if you do not like cyclones !! Between late January and early March 1961 three cyclones smashed into the town and gave it 900 millimetres in five weeks, or just under 3 feet of water. On 15 May 1943, Onslow became the most southerly town in Australia to be bombed by the Japanese in World War 2, when a single plane bombed the airfield. However, there was no damage or casualties.

Onslow’s other claim to fame is to have been the site of a major supply base in the 1950’s in support of atomic bomb tests on nearby islands.

Tom Price

Tom Price is a town situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is a mining town we pass through from Karijini N P on the way back to the coast. It may sound a strange name for a town and there is an interesting history – the town was named after Thomas Moore Price, who worked for the American Company, Kaiser Steel. He arrived in the area in the early 1960’s to appraise deposits of ore and was instrumental in convincing the mining companies to mine in the area. He also played a major role in lobbying the State and Federal Government to allow mining to proceed and for the ore to be exported. In September 1962 at the age of 71 Tom Price returned to America. He passed away from a heart attack at his desk, only two hours after being advised of the very rich ore deposit discovered on a mountain in the town. In recognition of Thomas Moore Price and his efforts during the foundation of the industry, the mountain and the town, the town of Tom Price was named after him.

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park is in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara region in northwestern Western Australia. It is just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, approximately 1,055 Kms north of Perth. Formerly known as Hamersley National Park, it was renamed in 1991. At 627,442 hectares (1,550,440 acres), it is the second largest national park in Western Australia (Karlamilyi National Park is larger).

We have seen many National Parks on our travels but Karijini rates very highly. It contains many gorges which are very accessible and stand out because of the rich, dark redness of the stone which contrasts with the bright green flora which almost sparkles in the ever present sunlight.

We spend a week based in the National Park at a bush camp and make daily trips to the many different gorges.

Dales Gorge – did gorge rim walk, then down to circular pool along the gorge base to Fortescue Falls then back up to the top of the gorge.

Mount Bruce – the second tallest peak in WA, overlooking the huge Marandoo mine site.

Hammersley Gorge – spectacular rock formations (folds) with a lovely swimming hole at the base.

Kalamina Gorge – a gentle walk down to the bottom of the gorge to view the waterfall upstream and then walk along the stream to rock arch pool.

Oxer and Joffre Lookouts and Weano Gorge.

Fern Pool – at the top of Fortescue Falls a fern surrounded swimming hole that is also home to fruit bats.