There’s parts of the country that do not get nearly as much attention for stunning locations to travel, 4WD and camp at, and the Pilbara is a great example of this. Located in the northern parts of WA, we’ve completely fallen in love and would compare it to a little brother or sister of the Kimberley, which is one of the best places in the country.
There’s something about the glowing red rocks, mining activity, incredible water holes, 4WD tracks and remote camp sites that just doesn’t compare to anything else around, and most of it is within reach of a 1 – 2 week trip from Perth (although longer is better).
We’ve just come back from a 3 week trip leaving Perth and exploring the Marble Bar, Tom Price and Paraburdoo region and cannot speak more highly about it!
Why is the Pilbara so amazing?
There’s so much land
When you look on a map, its not hard to see why the Pilbara is a peaceful place (outside of the mining activities). There’s more land for you to camp on and explore than you can poke a stick at, and that often means you spend days and nights without seeing a soul.
Winter is not winter
There’s a reason people head north in winter time. When its raining cats and dogs and a maximum of 15 degrees every day in Perth and below, the Pilbara is warm, sunny and you’ll often not see a cloud in the sky for months.
There are places where it can still get quite cool at night time, but around the Marble Bar area you can expect minimums at night of around 15 degrees, which is pretty comfortable. During the day it will get to 25 – 29 degrees, which makes for the perfect adventure weather. Not too hot, but not too cold!
The waterholes are incredible
There are more amazing streams, rivers, creeks, lakes, gorges and water holes in the Pilbara than you could explore in months doing it full time, and it doesn’t take much to find some spectacular ones.
Many are not that frequently visited either, which means you get to see them in their natural state, and swim in the ultimate, natural pool!
A lot of the camping is completely free
On our 3 week trip from Perth to the Pilbara, we paid to camp at a tiny handful of places in the Pilbara. Everything else was completely free, and you can’t get much better than that.
We did make sure we spent a few dollars in the local towns to support their endeavours of being caravan and camping friendly, but you don’t have to do that, and it’s a huge privilege.
With so many other parts of the country being hugely expensive to stay at even a patch of dirt, its greatly appreciated when you have huge areas like the Pilbara that have a heap of free camps.
The scenery is out of this world
I love the Kimberley. It’s absolutely mind blowing, but the Pilbara has places that come a very close second. The huge rolling hills, big red rocks, cliffs and water make for some spectacular places that everyone should experience.
We were wowed more times than I care to remember, and whilst we normally love camping along the coast there’s an attraction in the Pilbara that you just cant compete with. Of course, the Pilbara coastline is absolutely magic too, but equally as much is the inland scenery.
Bird life galore
We’ve always enjoyed watching birds in their natural state, hunting, playing, splashing or fighting with each other. The Pilbara has a lot more bird life than we expected, and in some ways exceeds the Kimberley.
You’ll see whistling kites almost everywhere you go, along with rainbow bee eaters, native budgerigars, and plenty of other amazing birds. Some are super skittish, and others don’t really care if you are around (like the Bustard!).
Fires are freely permitted, and wood is easy to gather
On a cool evening, nothing beats kicking back around a fire, and when wood is easy to gather and there is no fire risk it’s the ultimate thing to do. We had plenty of fires in the Pilbara, and you can basically light them anywhere (with preference to using existing fire places where possible).
The National Parks are just the start
I’ve heard many people say that Karijini National Park is the best National Park in Australia, and whilst I’m not sure I personally agree, it is an amazing place. Once you’ve explored a bit more of the Pilbara you realise there are lots of other places very similar to Karijini, but without the crowds of people.
The coastline is a whole new ball game
We love free diving, fishing and boating, and the coastline in the Pilbara takes it to a whole new level. Cossack has a magic low cost camp, Cleaverville is one of our old favourites, 40 mile beach is so worth the drive in, and then you have Cape Keraudren and Pardoo station, both of which were hugely appreciated by us.
There’s more 4WD tracks than you can poke a stick at
The Pilbara is best explored with a 4WD, and there are more tracks that you can do in months of travel. We did some epic 4WD tracks all over the region, and rate them up there with the best. The scenery, end destinations and fun tracks are just perfect.
When is the best time to visit the Pilbara?
Despite its magic weather between May and September, the Pilbara can be a seriously tough place to visit outside of this with days reaching nearly 50 degrees.
The best time to visit the Pilbara is generally between May and September, with the earlier the better. This will net you cool nights, but warm days with a limited chance of rain and cyclones.
We’ve done trips in both June and July and had an absolute ball.
What are some of the great attractions and locations?
Seriously, where do I start? Anywhere outside of the main towns in the Pilbara is going to be unreal. The Millstream Chichester National Park and George River Gorge is stunning. Kalgan’s Pool is beautiful.
Marble Bar, along with Skull Springs Road, Running Waters, Carawine Gorge, Meentheena Veteran Retreat and Glen Herring were all worth a visit.
Tom Price is a beautiful, clean town and we reckon Tiger Eye Pool is one of the most scenic locations you can go to. Magic Pool is up there with the best locations we’ve been to, Cheela Plains is stunning, and that’s before you head to the coastline.
Visit the Pilbara
If you haven’t spent much time exploring the Pilbara, you should absolutely put it on the list. Its much quieter than the coast, has stunning weather, requires no booking and you can have a super relaxing trip bouncing from one amazing place to another.
Have you been? What’s your favourite places?