The Pilbara

The Pilbara region in Western Australia has some of the world’s most ancient natural landscapes, dating back two billion years and stretching over 500,000 square kilometres. 

Deep rocky canyons lead to peaceful plunge pools in the beautiful Karijini National Park. Hundreds of islands with dazzling white beaches and untouched coral gardens are yours to explore on the Dampier Archipelago and Mackerel Islands. And yet the Pilbara is also known as the engine room of Australia - home to a massive mining industry in crude oil, salt, natural gas and iron ore. 

Karijini National Park and Beyond

Walk the mighty gorges of Karijini National Park and Millstream Chichester National Park to discover hidden waterfalls and swim in clear cool rock pools. Or venture deep into the Eastern Pilbara to one of the most remote places on the planet, Rudall River National Park.

The Pilbara’s Coastal Paradise

The Dampier Archipelago and Mackerel Islands sit just off the coast of the Pilbara region, offering world-class boating, fishing, diving and snorkelling. And should you visit in turtle nesting season, between September and April, watch out for female turtles laying their eggs and newly hatched babies scrambling to the ocean. Pristine beaches, beautiful coral gardens and abundant fish beckon you to Point Samson. There is another event on Mother Nature’s calendar that you can experience year-round - the incredible Staircase to the Moon occurs on full moon dates between March and October along the Pilbara coast.

Amazing Indigenous Art and Culture

With over 700 historic Indigenous archaeological sites and 10,000 rock engravings (Petroglyphs), many dating back some 30,000 years, the Burrup Peninsula is now heritage listed. It’s the perfect place to discover the unique art, history and culture of the Indigenous peoples of the Pilbara.

Pilbara Towns and Colonial Past

Karratha is the gateway to the Pilbara region in Western Australia. The pretty port town of Dampier sits just 20 kilometres to the west and the mining town of Port Hedland to the east.. Proclaimed in 1866, Roebourne is the oldest settlement in the North West.Visit the heritage listed Old Roebourne Gaol, now home to a historical museum. Cossack is a ghost town and has many beautifully restored historical buildings which offer an insight to the hardships and successes of the first settlers. Travel inland and you’ll experience the unique communities of the rugged outback, from Tom Price, the highest town in Western Australia, to Marble Bar, the hottest town in the country.

Pilbara Map

View a detailed Pilbara map and start planning your trip.

Couple in mulla mulla wildflowers near Mount Bruce
Couple standing in a field of mulla mulla wildflowers near Mount Bruce


Cossack Art Award Celebrates 21 Years

by Robyn Maher | Jul 25, 2013

Once again Australia’s North West Tourism was an Associate Sponsor of the Cossack Art Award and travelled to the Pilbara to enjoy the program.

Journalist Mark Naglazas from The West Australian Newspaper joined me in Karratha to attend this year’s Cossack Art Award staged annually at the historic Cossack settlement within the interesting architecture of the Old Post and Telegraph Office and the Bond Store, with its magnificent granite and bluestone masonry.

Robyn Maher and Mark Naglazas at Cossack Art Awards

(Robyn Maher and Mark Naglazas at the Cossack Art Award. Image: Lillian Frost)

This event is a project of the Shire of Roebourne with Rio Tinto as Principal Partner. The Cossack Art Award is recognised internationally and nationally as the most isolated and richest acquisitive art award in regional Australia.

Shire of Roebourne staff at Cossack Art Awards

(Shire of Roebourne staff amongst some of the artwork. Image: Lillian Frost)

6x6 Arts Forum was the first event for the program.  A relaxed evening of arts conversation and networking with the judges, artists, curators, volunteers and staff behind the art award.  This event featured six artists speaking about their art practice for six minutes.

Mark and I were fortunate enough to join Archaeologist Ken Mulvaney, acclaimed judges Lindy Lee and Seva Frangos, Ron Bradfield, Tabitha Minns & Gavin Buckley from Artsource, Caspar Fairhall (2013 Cossack Art Award Artist in Residence) and William Barton, world renowned Didgeridoo and classical guitarist for an informative tour of the ancient Petroglyphs at Hearson’s Cove, Burrup Peninsula.  This was an unforgettable experience to view Aboriginal rock art dating back 20,000 years.

William Barton performing didgeridoo

(William Barton performing didgeridoo and guitar. Image: Lillian Frost)

The Sponsor’s Preview night was a wonderful opportunity to view all 293 entries, 108 being from the Pilbara.  MC Verity James ensured proceedings ran smoothly and 2012 ARIA award winner for best classical album William Barton performed the didgeridoo and classical guitar that captivated guests in the stunning surrounds of Cossack’s heritage buildings.

We also visited the Roebourne Art Group, Yinjaa-Barni Art Centre and the new Roebourne Amphitheatre and learnt all about Weerianna Street Media and Big Hart’s Hip Bone Sticking Out Project.

The Cossack Art Award Opening Night was buzzing with excitement as we waited to learn the winners.  Total prize money for the awards is $109,000 – 9 Category’s plus Best Artwork by Pilbara Artist and Best Overall Artwork.  

Mark and Robyn check out Cossack Art Award

(Checking out some of the 293 pieces of artwork at the Cossack Art Awards. Image: Lillian Frost)

Judges Lindy Lee & Seva Frangos had the difficult task of choosing the winners.  Best Overall Artwork was awarded to Artist Lesley Munro for  'The Way Back', Prize Money $15,000 and $15,000 Artist in Residence Program.

Artist Lesley Munro  with her winning artwork 'The Way Back'

(Artist Lesley Munro and her winning artwork. Image: Lillian Frost)

Sunday morning the public got to join the judges Lindy and Seva in an exhibition floor talk conversation and tour to discuss the judging process and the value of open art prizes.  Following the Judges Floor Talk was the popular event Cossack Family Day attracting thousands of visitors.  This event showcases the creativity of the community with market stalls, craft workshops and live entertainment including Dorothy the Dinosaur!

On our last day we travelled to Dampier to join Brad Beaumont from Discovery Cruising.  We cruised to Sam’s Island, Pirates Cove, viewed rock art sites on East Lewis Island and observed loading of salt and iron ore on to massive ships.  The Dampier Archipelago is made up of 42 islands, we enjoyed a taste of these beautiful islands and beaches and enjoyed the stunning landscape from Brad’s boat the “Blue Marlin”.

Enjoying a cruise on Discovery Cruising's 'Blue Marlin'

(Cruising the Dampier Archipelago on the 'Blue Marlin' Image: Robyn Maher)

Special thanks to Sean Turton from ibis Styles Karratha, Vanessa Subramoney Shire of Roebourne, Jen Hourquebie from Archipelago Arts, Brad Beaumont from Discovery Cruising and of course Mark Naglazas for coming to the Pilbara from Perth and his coverage of the awards in The West Australian Newspaper. 

Interested in visiting the Pilbara?  Find out more: at Roebourne Visitor Centre and Australia's North West. 

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