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Friday, 3 Jul 2009

Warlu Way journey into Western Australian Dreamtime

Rosemary Island Dampier Archipelago WA
Rosemary Island Dampier Archipelago

The way of the Warlu or Dreamtime serpent is a Western Australian aboriginal legend.

Dreamtime tales tell of a mighty warlu which came from the sea and ploughed through Western Australia, his progress carved out waterways as he moved.

Warlu Way is a 2480 kilometre self-drive journey through Western Australia's spectacular Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley regions.

Interpretive signage along the drive reveals the secrets of this ancient country and its historical, cultural and natural wonders.

Whale Shark Ningaloo Reef WA
Whale Shark Ningaloo Reef WA

Warlu Way begins its journey on the shores of the Ningaloo Marine Park in the towns of Coral Bay and Exmouth. 

From the coast, Warlu Way heads east to Karijini National Park.

Next the drive returns west via the Millstream-Chichester National Park.

The drive returns to the coast at Karratha – gateway to the Dampier Archipelago and the Burrup Peninsula.

Warlu Way then journeys to the north, with options for side journeys to the east. It passes historic towns like Cossack, Roebourne, Port Hedland and Marble Bar.

From here it travels along the coast to Eighty Mile Beach, The final Warlu Way destination is the resort town of Broome.

Warlu Way is about Respect for Indigenous culture from travellers. Courtesy requires three RRR's -

Relationship – Recognise Indigenous people’s relationship and connection to the land

Responsibility – Acknowledge the ongoing responsibility Indigenous people have to their country, and recognise your own responsibility to travel thoughtfully.

Respect – Respect Aboriginal beliefs associated with country and culture.

As a visitor, respect the wishes of your hosts and any restrictions that you have been asked to observe.

Whale tale courtesy Tourism WA
Whale tale courtesy Tourism WA

Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing coral reef in Australia. It is home to thousands of marine species. 

The area is also famous for its abundant large marine fauna such as whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays, turtles and dugong.

Whale sharks are the world’s biggest living fish with mature adults growing more than 12 metres long. The Milyering Visitor Centre provides information on Cape Range and Ningaloo including both residential reef inhabitants and those that visit on a regular basis.

The marine park has a series of zones including Sanctuary zones which are look but don’t take areas managed solely for nature conservation and low-impact tourism.

They are important as refuge areas for marine life as well as helping to replenish adjacent areas.

Charles Knife Gorge Cape Range National Park WA
Charles Knife Gorge Cape Range National Park WA

Cape Range National Park

This park is now in conjunction with Ningaloo Marine Park as the parks of the Coral Coast. The limestone range peaks at 314m above sea level on a peninsula spine which runs to North West Cape.

Campgrounds are located adjacent to beaches along the coast. From the beaches it is often a short swim out to spectacular coral gardens.

Accidents have happened so read all warning signs. Visitors need to be competent swimmers to enjoy the reef areas.

The Ranges are best explored over the cooler months from April to October. Gorges have no permanent pools. 

The Milyering Visitor Centre provides information on Cape Range and Ningaloo including both residential reef inhabitants and those that visit on a regular basis.

Fortescue Falls Karijini National Park WA
Fortescue Falls Karijini National Park WA

Karijini National Park

Karijini National Park in the Hamersley Ranges

The high plateau is dissected by deep gorges. A series of walk trails include look out platforms at strategic points which offer fabulous views into the gorges a 100 metres below.

Karijini Visitor Centre provides information on the park and visitors can meet local Aboriginal people who are employed as rangers and visitor centre staff. 

Aboriginal culture is represented in a series of displays inside the visitor centre as well as information on the areas natural history including geology and plant and animal habitats. There are two camping areas in the Park.

The first, Dales Gorge camping area is managed by the Dept of Environment and Conservation. It has basic facilities including gas barbecues, picnic tables and long drop toilets.

The second, Karijini Eco Retreat is owned by Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and provides a range of camping experiences from tent sites to self contained eco tents with ensuites.

Visitor Centre Millstream Chichester National Park WA
Visitor Centre Millstream Chichester National Park WA

Millstream Chichester National Park is the homeland of the Yinjibarndi people.

The Millstream Chichester National Park main attractions are its significant cultural importance and the abundance of freshwater.

The pools at Millstream are believed to have been created by the Warlu Serpent as he searched for two disobedient boys.

After swallowing the boys he drowned the rest of their tribe. Aboriginal people believe that the Warlu continues to live in the murky depths of Deep Reach Pool.

Millstream was once a pastoral station and the old homestead building is now a visitor centre. A walk trail takes visitors around Jirndawurrunha pools, and another links the homestead with Crossing Pool and Cliff Lookout.

Camping areas have basic amenities including gas barbecues, picnic tables and biolytic or composting toilets.

Burrup Peninsular

The Burrup Peninsula has a large range of habitats, a diverse array of wildflowers and wildlife and an ancient outdoor art gallery.

It is situated about five kilometres north-east of the town of Dampier. It is believed that Aboriginal occupation of the Pilbara dates back more than 40,000 years.

The Yaburara people, who once inhabited the peninsula and the adjacent islands of the Dampier Archipelago, left a rich cultural heritage. The Burrup contains one of the most prolific sites for prehistoric rock art in the world.

Malus Island Dampier Archipelago WA
Malus Island Dampier Archipelago WA

Dampier Archipelago

The Dampier Archipelago comprises 42 islands, islets and rocks lying within a 45 km radius from the town of Dampier. 

Twenty-five of these islands are incorporated into reserves for the conservation of flora and fauna and are managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The relative isolation of the islands means they support plant and animal populations which are close to their natural state and allow for the conservation of native species which are vulnerable to feral predators.

Humpback whales visit. Information about whale watching for both their protection and yours is available from the Department of Environment and Conservation, Karratha Office, (08) 9182 2000. Swimming, snorkelling and diving are popular and fishing is allowed in all but the sanctuary zones.

Staircase to the moon
Staircase to the moon

From April to October the Exmouth to Broome coastline of Western Australia mirrors the Staircase to the Moon as moonlight, water and tidal influences create a Dreamtime magic.

Oxer Lookout in the Karijini National Park is a grandstand view of the intersection of four great gorges.

Jirndawurrunha Pool in Millstream Chichester National Park is part of both indigenous and European heritage.

Karratha is the youngest and fastest growing town in the Pilbara. Located 1,535 kilometres north of Perth on the North West Coastal Highway, it is in the heart of the Central Pilbara Coast.

Karratha was established in 1960s due to the tremendous growth of the iron ore industry. 

Today, it is a busy, modern and well-serviced town and a great base for exploring Millstream Chichester National Park, Karijini National Park and the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago.

Wildflowers near Karratha WA
Wildflowers near Karratha WA

The Burrup Peninsula is living proof of the 30,000 year history of the Indigenous people in the Pilbara and home to more than 700 Indigenous archaeological sites, including 10,000 rock engravings (petro glyphs).

These petro glyphs are considered to be among the earliest examples of art in the world.

20 kilometres west of Karratha, the pretty port town of Dampier is named after the English buccaneer William Dampier, who visited in 1688. Built by Hamersley Iron in 1965, it is the largest tonnage shipping port in Australia.

The islands and reefs of the Dampier Archipelago are home to the biggest marine biodiversity in Western Australia.

Dugong and bottlenose dolphins are often sighted in the waters of the Dampier Archipelago and humpback whales are regularly seen between July and September, as they make their way north to breed.

BHP Billiton, Port Hedland operations are fed by 3km long trains and huge ships load through the port.

To assist travellers there are Visitor Centres in Exmouth, Tom Price,

Onslow, Karratha, Roebourne, Port Hedland, Newman, and Broome.

The Warlu Way project is supported by Australia's North West, Australian Government, Department of Environment and Conservation and Tourism Western Australia.

Editors Note: GoSee acknowledges the assistance of these supporters in preparing this feature.

Dinosaur footprint Gantheaume Pt Broome courtesy Tourism WA
Dinosaur footprint Gantheaume Pt Broome courtesy Tourism WA

Things to Do along the Warlu Way

Swim with the largest fish in the world – the Whale Shark in the Ningaloo Marine Park.

Enjoy a leisurely one hour cruise in Yardie Creek Gorge.

Be amazed at the enormity of Pilbara Iron’s open cut iron ore mine in Tom Price by taking a tour that takes you into the heart of the mine site operation.

Walk or climb down the gorges at Karijini National Park.

Visit tranquil Millstream in Chichester National Park.

Take a tour or charter a boat to discover the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago.

Visit the world famous Aboriginal Rock Art on the Burrup Peninsular.

Explore the historic towns of Roebourne and Cossack to learn of early colonial settlement and pearling’s dark past followed by a fresh seafood feast at the Point Samson fishing village.

Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air in Port Hedland.

Enjoy a camel ride or walk along Broome’s famous Cable Beach, then watch the sunset.

Visit the world’s oldest outdoor cinema in Broome’s China Town.

Take a sunset cruise on an old pearl lugger.

See the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point.

Visitor Centres –
Click for full map

Broome Visitor Centre

Corner Broome Highway and Bagot Road, Broome, 6725

PO BOX 352, Broome, 6725

Phone +61 8 9192 2222

Toll free Enquiries 1800 883 777

Fax +61 8 9192 2063



Exmouth Visitor Centre

Murat Road, Exmouth, 6707

PO Box 149, Exmouth, 6707

Phone +61 8 9949 1176

Toll free Enquiries 1800 287 328

Fax+61 8 91949 1441



Karratha Visitor Centre

Lot 4548 Karratha Road, Karratha, 6714

PO BOX 1234, Karratha, 6714

Phone +61 8 9144 4600

Fax +61 8 9144 4620


Newman Visitor Centre

Corner Fortescue Avenue and Newman Drive, Newman, 6753

PO Box 303, Newman, 6753

Phone +61 8 9175 2888

Fax +61 8 9175 2964



Onslow Visitor Centre

PO Box 24, Onslow, 6710

Phone +61 8 9184 6644

Fax +61 8 9184 6644



 Port Hedland Visitor Centre

13 Wedge Street, Port Hedland, 6721

PO Box 664, Port Hedland, 6721

Phone +61 8 9173 1711

Fax +61 8 9173 2632



Roebourne Visitor Centre

Old Gaol, Queens Street, Roebourne, 6718

PO Box 248, Roebourne, 6718

Phone +61 8 9182 1060

Fax +61 8 9182 1257



Tom Price Visitor Centre

Central Road, Tom Price, 6751

PO Box 291, Tom Price, 6751

Phone +61 8 9188 1112

Fax +61 8 9189 1441



Editor’s note: GoSeeAustralia thanks Australia's North West and Tourism Western Australia for assistance with this feature and the pictures which accompany it.

Editor's Note also see:

Eyre Hwy adventure stop, think and do it!

Region snapshots show the True Blue nature of WA

Broome provides a base for some serious WA relaxation

Be croc wise in Northern Australia

Living with Wild Australia - Sharks

GoSeeAustralia looks at How to Live with Wild Australia and learns-Australias snakes are scared of you

Great Drives of Australia - GSA Tours WA's Icon's

Kids are kings when they GoSeeAustralia

Families fuel drive to quality time in caravan parks

Sail your caravan through the Nullarbor winds

Families keep 310,575 caravans on freedom road

To Perth and back by "Statesman RV"

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory

Cossack art gallery. Cossack Art Awards are held in August
Cossack art gallery. Cossack Art Awards are held in August

Shot Hole canyon Cape Range National Park WA
Shot Hole canyon Cape Range National Park WA

Crossing Pool Millstream Chichester National  Park WA
Crossing Pool Millstream Chichester National Park WA

Honeymoon Cove Point Samson WA
Honeymoon Cove Point Samson WA

Weano Gorge Karijini National Park WA
Weano Gorge Karijini National Park WA

Yardie Creek Cape Range National Park WA
Yardie Creek Cape Range National Park WA

Warlu Way Experience Trail
Warlu Way Experience Trail
Explore the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Australia - The Warlu Way!
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