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Exploring what Karratha has to offer for tourists as Nexus launches flights from Geraldton

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsMidwest Times
Ngurrangga tours owner and operator Clinton Walker.
Camera IconNgurrangga tours owner and operator Clinton Walker. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

When thinking about Karratha, mining might be the first and possibly only thing that comes to mind for many people, as the Pilbara region is one of the biggest iron ore exporters in the world.

The city of Karratha was established in 1968 to accommodate the rapidly growing mining industry in the Pilbara when Dampier could not keep up with the growth.

These days it is still widely known as the mining hub for WA, and the engine room for the nation’s economy, but the region has so much to offer for tourists and people who want to explore the outback of WA’s north.

That opportunity has been made easier from Geraldton, with Nexus Airlines launching direct flights between the Mid West and Karratha. Instead of an 11.5-hour drive, it’s less than two hours the air.

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First up, Hearson Cove is a must for people travelling to Karratha. The sheltered spot is a popular swimming spot and it is clear to see why.

Hearson Cove in Karratha.
Camera IconHearson Cove in Karratha. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

The spot feels secluded but so open at the same time and while I was not fortunate enough to experience it, the cove is one of the few places that the staircase to the moon can be seen.

The cove and the whole region is surrounded by mountains of rocks that are all natural, but the history behind them is even more surprising.

Ngarluma man Clinton Walker was our tour guide on the Ngurrangga tour, which he started to educate people about his culture.

Ngurrangga tours owner and operator Clinton Walker.
Camera IconNgurrangga tours owner and operator Clinton Walker. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

“Basically, I just go around and I teach people the knowledge behind the actual art, so people get a deeper understanding of what the pictures mean,” Mr Walker said.

“People should come on these tours because the rock art is quite significant, we actually have the highest concentration of rock art on the planet.”

The rock art tour was something I had no previous insight on and one I was the most curious about during my time spent in Karratha.

It was an eye-opening experience, as Mr Walker showed us the significance of the art etched into the rock mountains that span back tens of thousands of years.

Some of the rock art that is featured on the Ngurrangga tour.
Camera IconSome of the rock art that is featured on the Ngurrangga tour. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

The rock petroglyphs detailed different fauna and details about the area from thousands of years ago that give an insight into the history of the land.

The highlight of Karratha tourism has to be the scenic helicopter flight over Karratha and the Dampier Archipelago.

View of mountains off Karratha.
Camera IconView of mountains off Karratha. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

A breathtaking view does not begin to describe the vista over the Pilbara landscape, going over the salt farms across the water is an unbelievable scene.

With an informative pilot giving titbits of information about the history of Karratha or the best spots to surf gives the mining city some life for anyone who takes the ride.

One of the industrial areas of Karratha.
Camera IconOne of the industrial areas of Karratha. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

Besides its mining reputation, people internationally would also know Karratha as home of Red Dog.

The resting place for famous Karratha resident, Red Dog.
Camera IconThe resting place for famous Karratha resident, Red Dog. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

The kelpie became the region’s mascot, with a statue in Dampier and right in Roebourne was his resting place, filled with different dog toys and flowers for the canine legend.

Towns and cities in regional Australia can be made or broken by the quality of their pubs, and Karratha’s North West Brewing Company did not disappoint.

It felt like a crime to come to the pub and not have the steak sandwich, as they have been awarded best Regional Steak Sandwich in 2022 and 2023.

As a self-proclaimed steak sanga enthusiast, of course I had to give the sandwich a try and it most certainly tasted like an award winner.

Pub owner Damien Scott said initially they were not even aware there was a best steak sandwich competition but thought it would be worth entering.

“We thought we’d enter and two years ago we won the regional steak sandwich comp,” he said.

“Once you do that, obviously you’ve got to try to back it up. . . so we gave it a crack again this year and we were fortunate enough it take it out again.”

The pub has won best regional stake sandwich two years in a row,
Camera IconThe pub has won best regional stake sandwich two years in a row. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

In just the past two weeks alone the pub has sold more than 1500 steak sandwiches.

The vibrant Pilbara area certainly has a lot to offer for tourists, with events like the upcoming Cossack Art Awards drawing entries from all over Australia and with the city of Karratha continuing to grow, the mining hub definitely has something for travellers in regional WA, as well as outside visitors.

Fraser Williams was a guest of Nexus Airlines on their inaugural flights between Geraldton and Karratha

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