What to see & do, local tips & top 10's.
Cossack Heritage Town was originally established as the North West’s main shipping port, and named Tien Tsin, after the boat that carried the first settlers to the region in 1863. It’s now a ghost town. Walking through the beautiful old buildings and reading about the people who lived there really connects you to Cossack’s history.
I like to walk on the sand flats of Hearson’s Cove at low tide. There are pools of water among the outcrops of reef, full of underwater wildlife, including 123 different species of coral, as well as octopus and mud crabs. It’s all set against the background of red rock and earth, blue skies and spectacular sunsets.
The North West is filled with larger-than-life characters, including Sam Ostojich, legendary for building his own castle on Tidepole Island, off the Dampier coast. After years of transporting rocks, soil and timber, he was granted a 99-year gentleman’s lease and connected to the mainland’s water supply. Sam whiled away his days on the island with his cat, Tiger, until he passed away in 2005. Today, you can tour the poignant remains of Sam’s Island. Ask for a visitor’s permit from Karratha Visitor Centre.
And then you discover the miraculous beauty of Karijini National Park in the Hamersley Range, where emerald-green rock pools of ice-cold water lie at the bottom of deep red-rock ravines. Oxer Lookout, an 800m stroll from the car park, brings you to a spectacular drop-off with breathtaking views over the junction of four mighty gorges: Red, Weano, Joffre and Hancock. Getting to other sites often involves longer walks through challenging terrain in sweltering temperatures (it’s always worth it in the end).
From Fortescue Falls, take the 300m detour to pretty, spring-fed Fern Pool, complete with timbered swimming platform and stairs. Fortescue Falls is also the starting point for an 800m hike (allow two hours return) to Circular Pool. The walk starts off steep but ends in an easy and scenic ramble.
Named for its luminous green waters, Kermit’s Pool at Hancock Gorge is at the end of a challenging 1.5km trail (allow three hours return) that involves a steep descent and ladder.
An equally adventurous option is Handrail Pool in Weano Gorge, with a very steep and narrow 1.5km descent (allow three hours return).
The Miliyanha campground offers powered sites, while Stargazers is unpowered. BYO fuel stove, because camp fires are prohibited, and don’t forget your bathers so you can enjoy a cool dip in Deep Reach, Crossing, and Python pools.