Onslow and the Mackerel Islands

Enjoying good weather all year round, Onslow in Western Australia is a pretty coastal town offering a relaxed holiday. It’s one of the few places where the sun rises and sets over water, and is the gateway to the Mackerel Islands.


Onslow’s old port was built at the mouth of the Ashburton River to export wool from Pilbara sheep stations, and Old Onslow was gazetted nearby in 1885. Just 40 years later, residents were moved 18km to today’s town site where a new jetty was built on the coast, avoiding the issues the port had with silting of the Ashburton River but unfortunately not the effects of the region's cyclones.

Remains of old Onslow’s buildings are still visible, including the police station, cemetery and old jetty and of course the site is a great place to see the mighty Ashburton River. Some of the buildings from Old Onslow were relocated to the new site including the old Goods Shed, now the visitor centre and museum with an impressive collection of old town artefacts and memorabilia. 

Today the nearby Wheatstone LNG project and the Onslow Salt operation have contributed to the redevelopment of the small town of Onslow. As you drive into town, watch out for the salt evaporation ponds which cover 87 square kilometres!


  • Wander along the Onslow Boardwalk for spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
  • Check out Mother Nature’s amazing monthly event, the Staircase to the Moon.
  • Visit the Goods Shed Museum and see its vast collection of old machinery and memorabilia.
  • Try Onslow’s best fishing spots such as Beadon Creek or Four Mile Creek.
  • Take a self-guided walk around the old townsite - heritage trail maps are available from the Onslow Visitor Centre.
  • The Ian Blair memorial walkway is a 1km walk from Beadon Point to Sunset Beach, with a trail map available from Onslow Visitor Centre.


Onslow offers visitors caravan park and hotel style accommodation. 

How to get there

With access via sealed roads from Karratha, Exmouth, Carnarvon and Karijini, Onslow and the Mackerel Islands is the quintessential coastal expression of the Pilbara region.

The Mackerel Islands

The Mackerel Islands are located 22 kilometres off the Onslow coast. The surrounding reef system provides a valuable link for marine life between the  Ningaloo Reef to the south and the Dampier Archipelago, Montebello Islands and Rowley Shoals to the north.

Of the 10 islands that make up the Mackerels group, two provide accommodation - Thevenard Island and Direction Island. Join a Mackerel  Islands tour and explore this watery wonderland, or even rent an island all to yourself! See the Mackerel Island website for more details. 

Mackerel Islands Fishing

The waters surrounding the islands are teeming with a carnival of marine life, ideal for diving, snorkelling and fishing. The daily sightings in Pilbara’s fishiest waters includes red emperor, spangled emperor, golden trevally, giant trevally and coral trout. 

On Thevenard Island, the show continues with turtle hatchings, migratory birds and other amazing wildlife. Bring your own boat, or join a Mackerel Islands fishing or diving tour.

For more information about booking accommodation and tours of the Mackerel Islands and Onslow, contact Onslow Visitor Centre

  Fishing at the Mackerel Islands


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