A metal sculpture representing a local Aboriginal tribe overlooks the town of Roeburne in the Pilbara region
A metal sculpture representing a local Aboriginal tribe overlooks the town of Roeburne in the Pilbara region

Plan your road trip: Things to see between Karratha and Port Hedland

Road tripping up Western Australia’s north-west is an experience like no other. Surrounded by a rugged, red dirt landscape, with vast blue skies above you, there are few descriptions that really do it justice. 

When making the trip, Port Hedland is the halfway point of north-west WA’s best attractions. Just a few short hours away from Karratha, it’s an important leg in your drive. 

And while it might seem short by comparison to other sections, here are our tips on how to make the most of it.


Driving from Port Hedland to Karratha

A desert landscape in the Pilbara region, with small green bushes and scrub on top of the red dirt ground and blue skies overhead

The drive from Karratha to Port Hedland is around 240km one-way, and takes anywhere from two and a half to just under three hours. 

If you don’t have access to a car, or prefer to sit back and let someone else do the driving, Integrity Coach Lines run a service between the two towns. 

A trip takes around 3.5 hours, and costs $102 one-way. Check the Integrity Coaches website for bus times and to purchase your ticket.

But if you do have a car, making the drive yourself is something truly special. Here are our tips to ensure your safety:

  • It’s a trip you can easily make with one tank of fuel, in one day. If you’re making a return trip, it’s best to split it over two days. While still doable on one tank of fuel, to be safe we recommend filling up for the return journey. 
  • Bring lots of water and snacks for the road. 
  • Make sure you have a spare tire that’s roadworthy. 
  • It’s best not to drive early in the morning and during dusk, or at night. This is when animals are most active, and can pose a hazard on the roads. 
  • Avoid driving during cyclone season, which generally runs between November and April each year. If you absolutely must, monitor the Bureau of Meteorology and Department of Fire and Emergency Services websites, to make sure there are no live alerts for the time you’re driving.

Driving in the WA outback feels different to anywhere else in the world, so it’s important to be prepared. But with the right planning, it’s a drive that’s definitely worth the trip.

Top attractions between Port Hedland and Karratha


A metal sculpture representing a local Aboriginal tribe overlooks the town of Roeburne in the Pilbara region

Image credit: Aussie Towns Facebook

Half an hour outside of Karratha, Roebourne holds the honour of being the first town established between Geraldton and Darwin—a massive distance.  As such, it’s also the oldest surviving town in WA’s north-west.

With this impressive lineage, the town itself is full of restored pioneer architecture, dating back to the 1800s.

You can also explore the Aboriginal art centres, Cheeditha Art Group, Yinjaa-Barni Art, and Juluwarlu, to learn more about the local art and culture of the Ngarluma people.

If you’re not in a hurry, it’s well worth your time to explore the Yaburara Heritage Trail. Uncover the region’s oldest stories, while wandering through the outback landscape and discovering ancient rock art.

A quick trip up to the Mt Welcome Lookout gives you a scenic view of the land around you, with signage outlining the history of the township and the significance of the lookout.


The town of Cossack, situated on the edge of the water with heritage buildings and trees surrounding it

Image credit: Cossack Town Facebook

A 45-minute drive east of Karratha, or just 10-15 minutes north of Roebourne, is the historic town of Cossack. 

Originally named “Tien Tsin” after the boat which the first settlers had sailed into the area, the town was the “birthplace” of WA’s pearling industry and was once home to thousands of people looking to make their fortune in the gold and pearling trade.

After the move of the local pearling industry to Broome, the town’s population started to decline and was completely abandoned in 1950. 

Since then, local efforts to breathe life back into the town have seen eight of its heritage buildings restored to give travellers an understanding of what life was like back in its thriving heyday, and tell the stories of the land around it. 

If you’ve got more time up your sleeve, we highly recommend taking a walk along the Cossack Heritage Trail. 

Or, if you’re around in July, Cossack is home to the famous Cossack Art Award, during which the town comes to life in an explosion of art and culture.

Point Samson

A group of people fish in the water around Point Samson

Image credit: Point Samson Community Association Facebook

Further north of Cossack is Point Samson, a small coastal town that was once a busy port. Now one of the region’s most popular holiday destinations, Point Samson boasts some beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and nature trails – which makes for a relaxing day spent fishing, hiking, kayaking, or taking a dip.

Whim Creek

The old Whim Creek pub, which has a terracotta-coloured roof, walls, and dark green posts, set amongst gum trees

Image credit: Tripadvisor (@jeffm123)

Whim Creek, formerly known as Whim Well, is the site of the first major mineral mine in WA. A significant achievement, given our current mining industry.

Now, however, the town is nothing more than a single, solitary pub. And even that is closed.

But it’s quite the landmark. The Whim Creek Pub was built in 1886 to cater for the area’s miners. And while the original structure was destroyed in the early 1900s by a cyclone, it was quickly rebuilt using steel and materials imported all the way from England.

From the outside, it still holds its old-world charm today. And while currently closed, it marks the exact halfway point between Karratha and Port Hedland, making it the perfect spot to stop and stretch your legs before continuing on your drive.

Red Dog Grave Memorial

A tourist stands next to the Red Dog Memorial, which has a statue of a kelpie dog on top of some local rocks with memorial plaques

Image credit: reddogwa.com

Just north-west of Karratha is the Red Dog Grave Memorial, a tribute to a much-beloved kelpie cross dog who was known to wander throughout the Pilbara, often tagging along on bus journeys across the region.

The memorial statue can be found just on the side of Dampier Highway, as you drive into Dampier. 

Kick back and relax at our Pilbara accommodation

A Reception sign points to the entrance to the Hedland Hotel

The drive between Karratha and Port Hedland could be considered short by greater Pilbara standards. But there’s still plenty to do, and the mesmerising Pilbara landscape makes it worth the trip.

When you do get to Port Hedland, it’s time to relax, and book your stay at The Hedland Hotel. 

With a range of comfortable, well-appointed rooms, and views looking out over the Indian Ocean, it’s a literal seachange from the red dirt.

Wash off the drive in our pool, have a drink at Rays (our hotel’s own restaurant and bar), and unwind after a day behind the wheel—you’ve earned it!