Ready to hit the road like Red Dog? Here are our top ten ways to experience the Pilbara like the original Pilbara wanderer!
1. Snap a selfie at the Red Dog Statue, Dampier
Be sure to snap a selfie with the Red Dog statue, at the entrance to the town of Dampier! Featured in the books and movie, this statute was erected in his memory “by his many friends made during his travels”.
Dampier's new Red Dog Trail will start from the Red Dog Statue, so keep an eye out for the signs and follow the trail!
2. Discover Red Dog’s top spots in Dampier
Built by Hamersley Iron in 1965, Dampier houses the massive export facilities of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Dampier Salt and the North West Gas Shelf Project.
Follow the Red Dog signposted trail around town to see get a feel for the place where Red Dog spent a lot of his time and see if you can complete the trail’s online quest! Before you travel, check for more information on the City of Karratha’s website. While in Dampier why not also:
- Take a trip to see the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago,
- Learn about the traditional rock art on the Burrup Peninsula from a local elder.
Located 20km east of Dampier. Karratha is the fastest growing town in the Pilbara. It was also established in the 1960's to service the tremendous growth of the resource industry.
- Walk the Yaburara Heritage Trail – this 3.5km trail includes panoramic views of Karratha and surrounds and features some significant Aboriginal heritage sites, including rock engravings.
- Karratha is a great base for exploring some of the region’s treasures, with guided tours of the expansive Aboriginal rock art galleries of the Burrup Peninsula, the Millstream Chichester National Park and bush tucker tours all departing from the Karratha Visitor Centre.
- Head to the protected beach at Hearson Cove for a swim, or drive a little further to reach Cleaverville and 40 Mile Beach for coastal camping and the opportunity to cast a line.
4. Port Hedland
A busy working harbour and vibrant town with a rich history, Port Hedland was also visited by Red Dog on many occasions. While you are in Port Hedland:
- Take a local history and town tour to discover the many layers of Port Hedland’s story, from its establishment in 1896, through to the loss of the SS Koombana, the port's role in World War II and onto its role in major industry today. Find out more from the Port Hedland Visitor Centre.
- See the Staircase to Moon from the viewing deck at Goode Street.
- See a multitude of native wildflowers in the winter months and follow the Pilbara Wildflowers Trail throughout the region.
- Visit the Spinifex Hill Studios to see artworks from talented local Aboriginal artists.
5. Stay on a working cattle station
In Red Dog True Blue ‘Bluey’ is found by a young boy living on his grandfather’s station and together they embark on adventures around the property and further afield. Step into station life at Cheela Plains Station Stay or Pardoo Station, both working cattle stations offering visitors a chance to stay and explore the beautiful Pilbara Outback.
6. Explore the epic landscape and gorges of the Pilbara
Two hours south of Karratha, the 200,000 hectares of the Millstream Chichester National Park has rolling hills, spectacular escarpments, tree lined watercourses and hidden rock pools. This area is sacred land to local Aboriginal people and with the arrival of European settlers in the area became home also to pastoralists. Today, the original Millstream Homestead houses the visitor centre and museum, and the park has several interpretative walking trails, including Python Pool and the Chichester Camel Trail.
Further inland, Karijini National Park is often referred to as the Jewel of the Pilbara, home to deep gorges and emerald coloured rock pools. You can choose the most accessible sites, including the junction of four mighty gorges at Oxers Lookout, or get adventurous with walking trails and guided tours that take you paddling, abseiling and swimming your way through the park!
7. Point Samson, Roebourne, Cossack and Whim Creek
Visiting the Point Samsun Peninsula is a must on any Pilbara roadtrip. Not only are there a number of picturesque beaches ideal for an afternoon's relaxation or some fishing, and a range of accommodation options, the historic towns of Cossack and Roebourne also offer a fascinating insight into the region's past. Roebourne also has links to Red Dog, as the vet Dr Rick Fenny had his main clinic there.
Located just about halfway between Roebourne and Port Hedland, the Whim Creek Hotel is a really popular stop for hungry or thirsty travellers. Established in 1872, the hotel is the only remaining building from the settlement which sprung up around a copper mine.
8. Take a mining tour to get grips with the massive scale of the resource industry
Take a tour of the iron ore sites at Newman's Mount Whaleback, or Rio Tinto's operations at Tom Price. Discover the contrasts of the historical port town of Cossack and the modern super port at Port Lambert on Roebourne Visitor Centre's Point-to-Point Tour.
At the North West Shelf Project Visitor Centre find out more about the one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. In Port Hedland, follow the Port Interpretative walk, and see the giant ships in action from Marrapikurinya Park, right in the centre of town.
9. See if you can count the iron ore trucks on the Pilbara Rail trains
Red Dog was famous for travelling by whatever means he could including on the iron ore trains! The Pilbara rail network is the largest privately owned and operated rail network in Australia, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities for train spotting.
A great vantage point is at Redbank Bridge in Port Hedland, where up to 3km long trains pass by on their way from Mount Whaleback near Newman to Port Hedland. If you are following the Millstream link road, you’ll also spot a train or two, with the Western Creek flyover a popular spot for photo opportunities.
10. See salt or sea salt?
It’s hard to imagine just how much salt the Pilbara produces – almost ten million tonnes each year! The salt industry has been part of the fabric of the Pilbara for many years, and at the Dampier Salt Fields lookout a map and signage give you some more information about the evaporation ponds, saltworks and port operations.
In Port Hedland, the lookout at Redbank Bridge offers great views of the towering piles of salt. Further south, salt evaporation ponds covering almost 90 square kilometres can be seen as you drive into Onslow. If you are a bird lover, don’t forget your binoculars - the salt fields are also important areas for birds.