The Warlu Way


The Warlu Way experience promises to offer an adventure that will change you forever. Careful planning and consideration of the extreme conditions that make the North West of Western Australia  extraordinary will ensure these experiences are dramatic for all the right reasons. Some roads may need a permit before commencing your drive  –  check with the relevant Visitor Centre before embarking on your journey. A brochure for the Warlu Way can be downloaded from the Australia’s North West Tourism website.

The Warlu Way follows the path of the warlu, or Dreamtime sea serpent, as it traverses North West Australia and the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia – ancient and sacred landscapes rich in natural beauty and enchanting Aboriginal stories. Your jourrney takes you back in time to the mystical Dreaming era when the warlu emerged from the sea and travelled through the pulsing red heart of the outback, forming magnificent waterways as he moved.

Day 1 & 2: KarrathaDampier Archipelago and Burrup Peninsula

Travel to Karratha and Dampier and jump on board a cruise around the magnificent Dampier Archipelago. Great swimming and snorkelling can be had in many of the protected beaches and bays in the Archipelago. From July to September, migratory whales can be seen in large numbers. For the more independent minded traveller, hire a boat and head out amongst the 42 islands into the deep blue for some serious fishing. Red Emperor, Coral Tout and Snapper feature in the daily catch. Head to the protected beach at Hearson Cove on the Burrup Peninsula and check out nearby Deep Gorge to see an array of Aboriginal rock engravings known as petroglyphs. Afternoon shadows allow visitors a superior view of the thousands of petroglyphs at this site. Visit the Karratha Visitor Centre where you can join a tour of the Rio Tinto ship loading facilities and learn about the huge exports of iron ore that make this region the economic powerhouse of Australia.

Day 3 & 4: RoebourneCossack and Point Samson

Continue on your journey to Point Samson, enjoying a stop at the historic town of Roebourne and drop into the Visitor Centre. It is located within the historic Old Gaol and museum. It provides a great opportunity to discover the region’s rich, colourful history. Drive the Emma Withnell Heritage Trail and step back in time, but before heading out of town be sure to check out the local Indigenous artists at work at one of the nearby art galleries. Don’t miss the historic buildings at Cossack, the earliest port along the WA coastline and enjoy the view from the Reader Head Lookout. The fishing village of Point Samson is located right on the water, with a number of accommodation options. Before you leave ensure you take the time to enjoy a sunset drink and seafood feast whilst overlooking the picturesque coast.

Day 5: Millstream Chichester National Park

Visit the original Millstream Homestead, which has been transformed into the park’s unmanned Visitor Centre. Walk trails take you around the lushly tropical Jirndawurrunha Pool which links the homestead with Crossing Pool. Enjoy the spectacular sunset at Cliff Lookout. Before exiting the park, take a drive along the winding road to the peak of Mount Herbert for amazing view of the plain. Upon descent enjoy a refreshing swim at Python Pool. Camp in one of the several designated areas within the park.

Day 6 & 7: Tom Price and Karijini National Park

Between Millstream National Park and Tom Price, journey along the unsealed road adjacent to the longest privately owned railway in the world. A permit to drive on this private road can be obtained from the Karratha Visitor Centre. You will encounter more than one 2.5km locomotive transporting iron ore from the inland mine to the Port of Dampier. Take a fascinating tour of the massive operations at Rio Tinto’s open cut iron ore mine. Drive to the top of Mt Nameless – Jarndunmunha to the local Indigenous people – for unsurpassed views of the stunning Hamersley Ranges. Continue out of town to the awe inspiring Karijini National Park. Take in the award winning Karijini Visitor Centre and its interesting interpretative information. Walk the designated trails into the depths of Dales Gorge; be rewarded with a refreshing dip in the emerald colours of Fern Pool, Fortescue Falls and Circular Pool. Enjoy an overnight stay in the park in tented accommodation, or camp in one of the two campgrounds. Check out the west side of the National Park including the stunning Kalmina Gorge to explore the waterfall upstream. Don’t miss the Joffre Falls lookout and the most spectacular lookout in Australia  –  Oxer’s Lookout, the junction of Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre Gorges. For the fit and adventurous, descend to the bottom or Hancock or Weano Gorge, swim in freshwater pools amongst some of the oldest rocks in the world.

Day 8: Newman

Head back to the highway and make your way to the inland Pilbara town of Newman. The southernmost town in the Pilbara, Newman was established as a mining town to service the giant Mt Whaleback iron ore mining operations. It is now a busy regional centre. Whilst there visit the Opthalmia Dam or take a tour of the mine site. If travelling in a four wheel drive it is possible to take the unsealed road from Marble Bar to Newman. Make sure you enquire about road conditions before embarking.

Day 9: Port Hedland

Rejoin the Warlu Way and head north to Port Hedland via the historic copper mining town of Whim Creek. Tour BHP Billiton port facilities, follow the cultural and heritage trail and check out the historical museum and Court House Gallery. Visitors can enjoy the harbour, the closest vantage point in Australia to observe the movement of massive ore carriers and salt ships passing through. You can’t miss the massive salt piles that act as a gateway to the town, which is just one of the major exports that help to make this port one of the busiest in Australia. At certain times of the year turtles can be seen nesting on Cemetery Beach.

Day 10: Marble Bar

On the way to Eighty Mile Beach turn inland towards Marble Bar, famous for its record stretch of high temperatures. During the winter months the weather is very pleasant, with warm sunny days and cool nights. See the ‘marble bar’ that gave the town its name and find out that it is really made of. Seek out one of the several waterholes in the area that make this place a real oasis.

Day 11 & 12: Cape Keraudren and Eighty Mile Beach

Driving north from Port Hedland on the Warlu Way, there are a number of places to turn off to the coast and enjoy a few days of relaxing camping. Visit the Cape Keraudren Coastal Reserve, a haven for marine and terrestrial animals and make camp. Eighty Mile Beach is a little further along the highway and has a large caravan park with cabins, powered and unpowered sites. Fish for Threadfin Salmon from the beach and marvel at the sight of the endless stretch of sand that gives this place its name. 

Note: this itinerary is meant as a guide only. We suggest that if you have the time, to enjoy the area at a more leisurely pace!

The RAC also offers a Warlu Way Dreamtime Trail which explores part of the Warlu Way over 10-15 days.

Australia’s North West Tourism also provides the Warlu Way Self Drive Itinerary which explores part of the Warlu Way over 9 days.

Share |