Enjoy the best of the Pilbara with these eclectic accommodation options.

Story Mandy McKeesick  Photo Australia's North West

Western Australia’s iron-rich Pilbara region is not your average tourist destination. Wedged between the Indian Ocean and the Great Sandy Desert, this ancient landscape is full of surprises. Among them are its accommodation options.

Entering the Pilbara from the east usually means you have done some serious desert driving – dust and dunes, the odd flat tyre. As if a reward for your effort, Carawine Gorge, 174km east of Marble Bar on the Oakover River, offers welcome respite. Cradled on one side beneath vertical cliffs lies a long waterhole perfect for washing off the dust with a swim, dropping a line from a tinny, or taking a lazy paddle past prolific birdlife. This is bush camping at its best. 

With no facilities and no tour operators, the traveller must be self-contained, but there are plentiful shaded camp sites at the water’s edge; and it’s free. Come sunset, the colours of the cliffs change from deep browns to glowing reds, a fitting introduction to the dramatic hues of the Pilbara.

Moving deeper into the Pilbara, most travellers are drawn to Karijini National Park and the world-famous rust-red gorges. Again, the self-contained traveller is well-catered for, with a large campground at Dales Gorge. But for those prepared to splurge, the glamping tents of Karijini Eco Retreat are the place to be. The semi-permanent Deluxe Eco Tents, dotted between spinifex and snappy gums, have luxurious king-sized beds and showers open to the sky. 

True to its name, the Eco Retreat has a green approach to tourism, so don’t be surprised to find visitors in the toilets – little red tree frogs love to hang about in the bowl. But, don’t panic; these tiny, almost translucent native frogs are a sign of a healthy system. The Indigenous-owned Eco Retreat also offers unpowered tents, dorm tents and camp sites. Guests can dine in the alfresco restaurant, with dishes incorporating traditional bush tucker. Camping has never been so glam.

The full version of this story was published in both OUTBACK magazine and the 2020 edition of our special one-shot magazine OUTBACK Travel.

This story excerpt is from Issue #134

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2021