Located in the north of Western Australia, the Pilbara region is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the west and extends along the Great Sandy Desert to the Northern Territory border on the east.
With an area covering 507,896 square kilometres, the Pilbara region accounts for 20% of the state’s land mass and is twice the size of Victoria, five times the size of Tasmania and roughly the combined land area of the US states of California and Indiana.
The Pilbara region is home to some of Earth’s oldest rock formations and its landscape includes coastal plains and mountain ranges with cliffs and gorges. It is a globally significant mining and energy region, boasting a wealth of resources, dynamic communities, rich Aboriginal culture and stunning natural landscapes.
The dominant flora of the Pilbara are acacia trees , shrubs and drought resistant Triodia spinifex grasses. The Pilbara is also home to a wide variety of endemic species, including a high diversity of invertebrates, who have adapted to the region’s tough environment.
The Pilbara is known for its petroleum, natural gas and iron ore deposits, which contribute significantly to the Western Australian economy and have resulted in the Pilbara being recognised as a region of global significance. Other industries contributing to the economy of the region include pastoral activities, fishing and tourism.
The region has a rich cultural history and approximately 15% of the population comprises of those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
The Pilbara also has a large transient population, which many people working in the region on a fly-in/fly-out basis.
Cost of living
According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Regional Price Index 2017, the cost of living in the Pilbara region is 10.7% more expensive than Perth. (Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development).
The Pilbara climate is arid and tropical and the region experiences high temperatures and low, irregular rainfall.
During the summer and early autumn (December to March), maximum temperatures exceed 32°C almost daily and it is not uncommon for the region to experience temperatures above 45°C.
During the winter months (June to August), the average temperature for the region is around 20°C, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C during this period.
The Pilbara’s annual average rainfall ranges between 250mm in the south and west of the region to 300-350mm in the north-east, with some elevated areas in the Hamersley Ranges averaging more than 500mm. Much of the rainfall in the area comes from tropical cyclone activity, with most rainfall received during summer and autumn.
Sport and recreationThere is a wide range of sporting and recreational activities available in the Pilbara, with most activities taking place in the major regional town centres of Karratha and Port Hedland.
The climatic conditions of the Pilbara, combined with the idyllic seasons of winter and spring, ensure a diverse range of sport and recreational interests are available all year round. Popular outdoor recreation activities include fishing, camping, four-wheel driving and boating.
Other recreational pursuits such as walking, art and crafts, dance, music, theatre and performing arts are also well supported.
There are a number of clubs throughout the region, representing a range of recreational activities including football, cricket, rugby, swimming, athletics, lawn bowls, golf, horse racing and speedway.
For more information, visit:
Events and attractions
The Pilbara region hosts a number of events throughout the year, including twilight movie events; golf tournaments; triathlons and running events; horse races; community and night markets; food, fashion, and music festivals; art exhibitions; opera under the stars; and cultural festivals.
The Pilbara’s colonial past can be explored in Roebourne, the oldest settlement in the North West, while the old town of Cossack has many beautifully restored historical buildings which offer an insight into the hardships and successes of the region’s first settlers.
The region houses some of the world’s most ancient natural landscapes and has over 700 historic indigenous archaeological sites and 10,000 rock engravings, many of which date back some 30,000 years.
The Pilbara’s three national parks – Millstream-Chichester, Karlamilyi and Karijini – offer an abundance of rugged gorges, secluded waterfalls and isolated rivers and billabongs, while its coastal plain is home to hundreds of islands with dazzling white beaches and untouched coral gardens in the National Heritage-listed Dampier Archipelago and the Montebello and Mackerel Islands.
For more information on the region’s main events and attractions, visit:
Services and facilities
You will find a range of every day services and facilities throughout the Pilbara region, including banks, ATMs, libraries, business centres/telecentres, post offices, shopping (food, grocery and other), hardware stores, police stations, butchers, bakers, cafes, service stations, pubs/taverns, takeaways, newsagents, churches, pharmacies and restaurants. Most of these are located in the region’s main town centres of Port Hedland and Karratha.
For more information, visit the Tourist Information and Visitor Centre located in each town.
The Pilbara offers a range of housing and rental options for those living in the region, with most people residing in the major settlements of Port Hedland, Karratha and Newman.
The median house price for the Pilbara region is $272,500, with the overall median weekly rental costing $400 per week (Source: REIWA Market Update; December 2017).
For more information, visit the REIWA website.
For more information, click here.
General Practices: 40
Aboriginal Medical Services: 3
Health ServicesThe Pilbara region incorporates two Health Districts – West and East Pilbara – with the majority of the region’s population residing in the West.
There is a range of different health services available throughout the Pilbara region, most of which are part of the public health system. Integrated District Health Services support the smaller hospitals in the region to deliver care and when required, transfer patients to the more specialised, larger hospitals in Newman, South Hedland and Karratha or metropolitan tertiary hospitals.
The region’s health services are supported by a range of community-based services (including population health and mental health services), allied health services and private general practices. The majority of these are located in the region’s main town centres.
The region is also home to a number of Aboriginal Medical Services that are based in Port Hedland, Roebourne and Newman and provide visiting services to smaller communities across the region.
(Courtesy of WA Country Health Services, Pilbara Health Profile, January 2018)
For a comprehensive overview of the health profile of the Pilbara region, download WA County Health’s Pilbara Health Profile 2018.