North West Coastal Highway

North West Coastal Highway

Overview
North West Coastal Highway in Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 is a generally north-south Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

n highway which links the fishing town of Geraldton
Geraldton, Western Australia
Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958...

 with the iron ore port of Port Hedland
Port Hedland, Western Australia
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....

. It is 1320 kilometres (820.2 mi) long, and constructed as a sealed 2-lane single carriageway
Single carriageway
A single carriageway is a road with 1, 2 or more lanes arranged within a single carriageway with no central reservation to separate opposing flows of traffic. Two-lane road or two-lane highway are single carriageway with one lane for each direction...

 with overtaking lanes in some parts. It was completely sealed by 1974 . Together with Brand Highway
Brand Highway
Brand Highway is a 362 kilometre main highway linking the northern outskirts of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to the port city of Geraldton in Western Australia's Mid West region. Together with North West Coastal Highway, it forms part of the Western Australian coastal link to the...

 it forms the coastal link between Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

 and Port Hedland
Port Hedland, Western Australia
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....

.

The highway is Western Australia's
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 second longest, and is very remote in parts.
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North West Coastal Highway in Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 is a generally north-south Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

n highway which links the fishing town of Geraldton
Geraldton, Western Australia
Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958...

 with the iron ore port of Port Hedland
Port Hedland, Western Australia
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....

. It is 1320 kilometres (820.2 mi) long, and constructed as a sealed 2-lane single carriageway
Single carriageway
A single carriageway is a road with 1, 2 or more lanes arranged within a single carriageway with no central reservation to separate opposing flows of traffic. Two-lane road or two-lane highway are single carriageway with one lane for each direction...

 with overtaking lanes in some parts. It was completely sealed by 1974 . Together with Brand Highway
Brand Highway
Brand Highway is a 362 kilometre main highway linking the northern outskirts of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to the port city of Geraldton in Western Australia's Mid West region. Together with North West Coastal Highway, it forms part of the Western Australian coastal link to the...

 it forms the coastal link between Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

 and Port Hedland
Port Hedland, Western Australia
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....

.

The highway is Western Australia's
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 second longest, and is very remote in parts. Economically it is an important link to the Mid West
Mid West region of Western Australia
The Mid West region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is a very sparsely populated region located on the west coast of Western Australia, extending about north and south of its administrative centre of Geraldton. To the east it extends more than inland to Wiluna in the Gibson...

, Gascoyne
Gascoyne region of Western Australia
The Gascoyne region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is located in the north west of Western Australia, and consists of the local government areas of Carnarvon, Exmouth, Shark Bay and Upper Gascoyne...

 and Pilbara
Pilbara region of Western Australia
The Pilbara is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia known for its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore...

 regions. The highway supports agriculture and fishing in the Mid West
Mid West region of Western Australia
The Mid West region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is a very sparsely populated region located on the west coast of Western Australia, extending about north and south of its administrative centre of Geraldton. To the east it extends more than inland to Wiluna in the Gibson...

 and Gascoyne
Gascoyne region of Western Australia
The Gascoyne region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is located in the north west of Western Australia, and consists of the local government areas of Carnarvon, Exmouth, Shark Bay and Upper Gascoyne...

, which transitions to mining, pastoral stations and offshore oil & gas production in the Pilbara
Pilbara region of Western Australia
The Pilbara is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia known for its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore...

.

Tourism



Between Geraldton
Geraldton, Western Australia
Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958...

 and Carnarvon
Carnarvon, Western Australia
Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. The popular Shark Bay world heritage area lies to the south of the town and the Ningaloo Reef lies to the north...

, the highway passes through remote and dry semi-desert areas. There are no towns along the highway for about 400 km, with several roadhouse
Roadhouse (facility)
A roadhouse is a commercial establishment typically built on a major road or highway, to service passing travellers. Its meaning varies slightly by country.-USA:...

s being the only settlements. Travellers are advised to bring adequate drinking water as the roadhouses do not provide it for free. On this stretch, a turnoff at the Overlander Roadhouse leads to Shark Bay
Shark Bay
Shark Bay is a World Heritage listed bay in Western Australia. The term may also refer to:* the locality of Shark Bay, now known as Denham* Shark Bay Marine Park* Shark Bay , a shark exhibit at Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia* Shire of Shark Bay...

 with its world-famous Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is a popular tourist resort located about 800 km north of Perth, Western Australia. The resort is 25 km northeast of the town of Denham in the Shark Bay Marine Park and World Heritage Site....

 via a stretch of road known as World Heritage Drive.

Carnarvon
Carnarvon, Western Australia
Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. The popular Shark Bay world heritage area lies to the south of the town and the Ningaloo Reef lies to the north...

, the only town between Geraldton
Geraldton, Western Australia
Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958...

 and Karratha
Karratha, Western Australia
-Facilities:A range of hotel, motel, B&B and caravan/RV accommodation is available for visitors. However, as the town is booming, accommodation is often hard to come by.The town has restaurants, a tavern, two hotels and two night clubs...

, marks a change in climate. Bananas and other subtropical fruits are grown here. Unlike the subtropical areas on the east coast, the climate is much drier, but Carnarvon is also notorious as one of Western Australia's windiest locations .

Further north, the highway passes through desert and becomes very flat. Bridges span many creeks and rivers, which from the distance can be spotted by stands of eucalyptus which grow along their courses towering above the surrounding spinifex
Spinifex
Spinifex may refer to:* Spinifex , a genus of grass which is indigenous to the coastal areas of Australasia and Indonesia* Triodia , a hummock grass of arid Australia, covering twenty percent of the Australian continent ** Spinifex resin* Spinifex people, or Pila Nguru, an Australian...

and mulga
Mulga
Acacia aneura, commonly known as Mulga or True Mulga, is a shrub or small tree native to arid outback Australia of areas such as the Western Australian Mulga shrublands.-Description:...

plants. Most of the time these creeks and rivers are dry; however between November and April, the passage of cyclones and other rain bearing depressions can cause the rivers to rise from dry to over 10 metres deep in less than a day.

Near Minilya Roadhouse is the turnoff to the North West Cape
North West Cape
North West Cape is a large peninsula of land in the north west coast of Western Australia. Cape Range runs down the spine of the peninsula and Ningaloo Reef runs along the western edge...

 area which is home to the tourist destinations of Cape Range National Park, Coral Bay
Coral Bay, Western Australia
Coral Bay is a small town on the coast of Western Australia, 1,200 km north of Perth. It exists primarily for tourism, with a side industry of fishing...

 and Exmouth
Exmouth, Western Australia
-Further reading:* Western Australia. Ministry for Planning. Exmouth-Learmonth structure plan. Perth, W.A. : Western Australian Planning Commission...

. Exmouth
Exmouth, Western Australia
-Further reading:* Western Australia. Ministry for Planning. Exmouth-Learmonth structure plan. Perth, W.A. : Western Australian Planning Commission...

 is also home to the US Navy communications base
Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt
Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt is located on the northwest coast of Australia, north of the town of Exmouth, Western Australia. The town of Exmouth was built at the same time as the communications station to provide support to the base and to house dependent families of U.S...

.


Further north the road goes inland and crosses the Ashburton River
Ashburton River (Western Australia)
The Ashburton River is located within the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The river rises approximately 100 km south of Newman and flows in a west north westerly direction until discharging into the Indian Ocean approximately 20 km south west of Onslow. The river crosses the North...

 near Nanutarra Roadhouse. Nearby is the access road to the mining towns of Tom Price
Tom Price, Western Australia
Tom Price, situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, is an industrial town. The town is located inland, at the edge of the Hamersley Range...

, Paraburdoo
Paraburdoo, Western Australia
Paraburdoo is a town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The name of the town comes from the Aboriginal word for 'white cockatoo'. It is located 1,536 kilometres north of Perth and 79 kilometres southwest of Tom Price. Paraburdoo was developed in the early 1970s to support Hamersley...

 and the former asbestos ghost town, Wittenoom. After crossing the Robe River
Robe River
Robe River is a river in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.The headwaters of the river rise in the Hamersley Range near Marana Spring then flow in a north westerly direction past the Robe River-Deepdale mine, crossing the North West Coastal Highway near the Pannawonica turnoff then...

, Fortescue River
Fortescue River
The Fortescue River is an ephemeral river in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is the third longest river in the state.The river rises near Deadman Hill in the Ophthalmia Range about 30 km South of Newman. The river flows in a Northerly direction parallel with the Great Northern...

 and Maitland River
Maitland River
The Maitland River is a river in southwestern Ontario, Canada, which empties into Lake Huron in the town of Goderich, Ontario. The river is 150 km in length....

, the highway reaches Karratha
Karratha, Western Australia
-Facilities:A range of hotel, motel, B&B and caravan/RV accommodation is available for visitors. However, as the town is booming, accommodation is often hard to come by.The town has restaurants, a tavern, two hotels and two night clubs...

. Karratha, together with its nearby sister town Dampier
Dampier, Western Australia
Dampier is a major industrial port in the north-west of Western Australia. The Dampier Port is part of the Dampier Archipelago. The port services petrochemical, salt, iron ore and natural gas export industries. Rio Tinto exports large volumes of iron ore through the port, and in September 2010...

, is home to the North West Shelf
North West Shelf
The North West Shelf of Western Australia is an extensive oil and gas region off the North West Australia coast in the Pilbara region.It has a considerable number of oil and gas wells, pipelines, production areas and support facilities.- Location :...

 oil & gas project, and the Pilbara's number two iron ore exporting port. A little further east, Roebourne
Roebourne, Western Australia
Roebourne is an old gold rush town in Western Australia's Pilbara region. It is 202 km from Port Hedland and 1,563 km from Perth, the state's capital. It prospered during its gold boom of the late 19th century and was once the biggest settlement between Darwin and Perth...

 is the gateway to Wickham
Wickham, Western Australia
Wickham is a townsite located 1,572 km north of Perth and 13 km north of Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.-History:...

 and Point Samson
Point Samson, Western Australia
,Point Samson is a small coastal hamlet 1,579 km north of Perth and 18 km north of Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The town is a popular holiday location for the nearby mining towns, including Wickham, Karratha and Dampier. Fishing is the main industry...

, the region's number three iron ore port. The highway finishes in Port Hedland
Port Hedland, Western Australia
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....

/South Hedland, the region's number one iron ore port and one of the largest towns in WA's
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 northwest, with 15,000 residents.

The remoteness of the northwest can be gauged by the number of roadhouse
Roadhouse (facility)
A roadhouse is a commercial establishment typically built on a major road or highway, to service passing travellers. Its meaning varies slightly by country.-USA:...

s serving the highway which are the only settlements for some of the long stretches of the highway. Significant distances separate larger towns such as Geraldton, Carnarvon and Port Hedland with extensive rangeland expanses. The highway provides access to some of the better known tourist destinations in the North West of Western Australia.

Towns and settlements


Towns, settlements, junctions and significant roadhouses on and slightly off this highway include:
  • Geraldton
    Geraldton, Western Australia
    Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958...

  • Northampton
    Northampton, Western Australia
    Northampton is a town north of Geraldton, in the Mid West region of Western Australia. At the 2006 census, the town had a population of 813. It is historic, with an outstanding National Trust building. The town lies on the North West Coastal Highway. Formerly named Gwalla after the location's...

  • Binnu
    Binnu, Western Australia
    Binnu is a town located on the North West Coastal Highway in the Mid West region of Western Australia.The name derives from a well on the outskirts of town that was first in use in 1909. The name is Indigenous Australian in origin and is thought to mean either to squeeze or place of emus...

  • Kalbarri
    Kalbarri, Western Australia
    Kalbarri is a coastal town in the Mid West region located 592 km north of Perth, Western Australia. The town is found at the mouth of the Murchison River and has an elevation of...

  • Billabong Roadhouse
  • Overlander Roadhouse
    Overlander, Western Australia
    The Overlander Roadhouse is in Western Australia, between Geraldton and Carnarvon on the North West Coastal Highway.Its remoteness has led to the area around it being known as Overlander, though there is no such official locality...

  • Wooramel Roadhouse
  • Carnarvon
    Carnarvon, Western Australia
    Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. The popular Shark Bay world heritage area lies to the south of the town and the Ningaloo Reef lies to the north...

  • Minilya Roadhouse
    Minilya, Western Australia
    Minilya is a location in Western Australia north of Carnarvon on the North West Coastal Highway. It is at a junction in the North West Coastal Highway, where the turn off to Exmouth is 220 kilometres from that location. The main highway then continues to the next junction 217 kilometres further, at...

  • Nanutarra Roadhouse
  • Pannawonica
    Pannawonica, Western Australia
    The town of Pannawonica is an iron-ore mining town located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, near the Robe River, about 200 km south-west from Karratha...

  • Fortescue River Roadhouse (21°17′44.32"S 116°08′17.52"E)
  • Karratha
    Karratha, Western Australia
    -Facilities:A range of hotel, motel, B&B and caravan/RV accommodation is available for visitors. However, as the town is booming, accommodation is often hard to come by.The town has restaurants, a tavern, two hotels and two night clubs...

  • Dampier
    Dampier, Western Australia
    Dampier is a major industrial port in the north-west of Western Australia. The Dampier Port is part of the Dampier Archipelago. The port services petrochemical, salt, iron ore and natural gas export industries. Rio Tinto exports large volumes of iron ore through the port, and in September 2010...

  • Roebourne
    Roebourne, Western Australia
    Roebourne is an old gold rush town in Western Australia's Pilbara region. It is 202 km from Port Hedland and 1,563 km from Perth, the state's capital. It prospered during its gold boom of the late 19th century and was once the biggest settlement between Darwin and Perth...

  • Cossack
    Cossack, Western Australia
    Cossack is an historic ghost town located 1,480 km north of Perth and 15 km from Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The nearest town to Cossack is Wickham. At the 2006 census, Cossack had a population of 236....

  • Wickham
    Wickham, Western Australia
    Wickham is a townsite located 1,572 km north of Perth and 13 km north of Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.-History:...

  • Point Samson
    Point Samson, Western Australia
    ,Point Samson is a small coastal hamlet 1,579 km north of Perth and 18 km north of Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The town is a popular holiday location for the nearby mining towns, including Wickham, Karratha and Dampier. Fishing is the main industry...

  • Whim Creek
    Whim Creek, Western Australia
    Whim Creek is a small town in Western Australia.Originally a post office known as "Whim Well", Whim Creek is on the North West Coastal Highway midway between Karratha and Port Hedland...

  • South Hedland
  • Port Hedland
    Port Hedland, Western Australia
    Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000 ....