Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ
I had no idea that at 747 metres (2450 ft) above sea level Tom Price is the highest town in Western Australia. I also had no idea Tom Price is at the foot of the highest Western Australian mountain with a summit accessible by road. And I had no idea that the town was named for American geologist Thomas Moore Price, instrumental in founding the area’s mining industry.
Who tragically died only two hours after being told that a rich ore deposit had been discovered in the area. But that’s a story for another day …
I didn’t know any of this before driving into Tom Price Western Australia after camping in nearby Karijini National Park for a few days.
And I didn’t care.
All I cared about after driving through the endless RED Pilbara dust was finding a washing machine.
Preferably one with a built in RED DUST removal filter.
But finding the unlikely oasis of Tom Price in the red – actually, make that BEYOND red – heart of the Pilbara region in the Western Australian Outback was a bonus.
And even though we spent less than 24 hours in this top little town we found at least 6 reasons to come back for more one day!
1 Mount Nameless
No, I haven’t forgotten the name of the impressive peak that looms 1128 metres (3700 ft) above the town and manages to find its way into virtually every photo …
… It really IS called Mount Nameless. By non-Indigenous people, anyway. The local Indigenous people know it as Jardrunmunhna, or ‘place of rock wallabies’.
It’s a 30 minute 4WD drive to the top on gravel roads OR a 3 hour return walk for views of the ranges, the Tom Price mine site and the town of Tom Price Western Australia. Or so they tell me … visiting the summit is something that is SO on the list for next time!
2 Tom Price Tourist Park
After spending our first few hours in Tom Price removing red dust from all exposed surfaces of the car and camper trailer; much of our clothing; and ourselves, we had time to admire the stupendous setting of this excellent Caravan park.
A short walk from the back of the camping area ascends to a viewing area just perfect for both sunset AND sunrise.
Mt Nameless on the one hand; the extraordinary Hamersley ranges that dominate the Pilbara on the other.
All under a sky so archetypally outback it immediately turns one’s photos into cliché shots …
3 The Wildflowers:
I don’t know what they’re all called. And I don’t care! But these are just a few of the remarkable array of flowers growing in the iron-rich soil of the Pilbara within cooee of the caravan park.
4 Tom Price Attractions
<p”>All that red dust removal and jaw-dropping scenery admiration can work up a healthy appetite. And during our August 2012 visit, the Moon Palace Chinese restaurant delivered the goods with one of the best meals of our trip!
At the back of the town, we got all excited about the outdoor cinema – until we discovered to our horror that it looked to be tragically destined to become a caravan parking area with a dump point for travellers passing through. Why? WHY????
Above the town, the lookout gives an interesting perspective. And just down the road amidst all the RED, Lake Knox provides an unexpectedly cool, green picnic area. But no swimming – the pond is part of the sewage filtration network …
5 Karijini National Park
Gateway to Karijini, Tom Price Western Australia makes a fine base from which to explore what is arguably Australia’s most dramatic National Park with the closest entry point only 50 km (31 miles) east.
And Karijini is well worth visiting with some of the most spectacular scenery, gob-smacking gorges, RED rocks and magnificent mountains in the country.
But … Tom Price makes an even finer staging post for the RED and filthy campers who emerge from a few days at Karijini looking for a pleasant spot to clean up, hole up, rest up and eat up! (See #2 above … the Tom Price Tourist Park!!)
6 But Wait! There’s MORE …
Tom Price Western Australia has more to offer those who, unlike us, are able to extend their stay. So here’s what we’ll be doing next time!
A drive (or walk!) to the Mt Nameless summit is a must, and what adventurer could pass up the opportunity to take a Tom Price mine tour to one of the biggest mine sites in the world? Out of town is the Kings Lake recreation area and Mt Sheila Lookout. And a number of tour operators offering Karijini and Aboriginal Cultural tours are based in the town.
But I’ll just be happy for the chance to prove I’ll never get tired of admiring Mt Nameless and the extraordinary Hamersley Ranges!
I grew up in Tom Price from 1974 until 1991. Great place but also had its sad tragic dark secrets, which most are only coming to light now via Facebook groups. The town use to be a closed town, you were only able to live there if you worked for the company. The roads to get to the town were not sealed and crossing creeks to get there during the rainy season was not for the faint hearted. Many times i remember our car needing to be pulled through to the other side by trucks, or waiting on someone else to take the punt to see how deep and fast it was running, then following after. The town i think is one of only a few (if there are any more) that the houses are numbered in sequential order. You knew what area of town people lived by the number of their house. The drive-in’s use to run 7 days a week. At first we only had our own local television station, called MTN (Mining Television Network) – it catered for the shift workers by playing the same shows at night that were played during the day. The town was, and im sure still is, footy mad. Everyone had their local teams and the teams got there names and players by what you did in the town. I remember thinking how clear the water in Perth was, our water was more white than anything, came from Millstream and was loaded with chlorine to apparently make it safer to drink. You never use to pay for water, so it made all the houses and town extremely green, but Hamersley Iron eventially changed that. The Wittenoom races was a massive event on the callendar. The Wittenoom gorges were also very popular, i remember playing in the asbestos mine shafts and sliding down the hills that were covered in asbestos which created great slides – if only we fully knew the damage some of us were probably doing to ourselves, then the parents having a few drinks at the Wittenoom pub before heading home. Having the gorges in your backyard was amazing (which use to be called The Hamersley Gorges, hmm wonder who named them that and not Karijini) I cant tell you how many times ive climed Mt Nameless, funny thing is i didnt really think how funny the name was until i would tell city people about it. Great photos, i miss the red dirt so much, it gets in to your blood, the stars and moon were the brightest and clearest ive ever seen and owning anything white was madness. 🙂
WOW! What a wonderful insight into life in Tom Price, Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing it – it makes me realise (again!) that us ‘fair weather’ tourists have it easy. We visit during the coolest months, and see the main sights before moving on to the next place. It’s such a different story when you live there all year round, isn’t it?! But the whole area is so amazing and I look forward to seeing it again and staying a bit longer – even if I do only get to see it during the cooler months! Thanks again, I’m so honoured you shared your life with us!
I moved to Tom Price with my husband and 12 month old son in 1975.
Our second son was born there. We both worked for the mining company and it was some of the best few years of our lives – people, life style, beautiful country – all wonderful.
We drove in to town in an old valiant, after crossing the Nullabor etc from Melbourne. My baby son and I both had white blonde hair to start with, but after the long trip in an old unairconditioned car we were orange in colour from the dust. We didn’t care, it was such an exciting adventure for our little family.
After Tom Price we moved around Australia to different mining towns, and I consider myself very blessed to have lived such a life in this wonderful country. My beautiful husband has sadly passed now, but my memories of the amazing Pilbara will never leave me.
Thank you for sharing your story, Barbara! I’m glad I brought back some happy memories for you – it sounds like you’ve had a VERY interesting and well travelled life and I bet you’ve got a lot more stories to tell! The Pilbara is an amazing place – my first visit certainly won’t be my last and my stay in Tom Price was way too short. I’m hoping I’ll fix that next time!
Can you take pets to this area
Hi Bruce! Taking pets to the Tom Price township shouldn’t be a problem, and there were certainly pets at the caravan park on our stay, although you should always check before you arrive in case the rules have changed. The caravan park website (http://tompricetouristpark.com.au/) indicates pets are not allowed in on-site accommodation. Pets are not allowed in National Parks, and you could check with the Shire of Ashburton on (08) 9188 4444 to check whether you can take them to other natural attractions in the area. Enjoy your trip!
Tom price has the worst most clickie bitchy hospital and medical staff it is a bad place to suffer an injury or just get sick unless you are a local resident I was shocked and should have reported the very unprofessional service I got . Oh the country side is wonderful
I’m sorry your experience of Tom Price wasn’t as good as mine, Freddy. I hope it’s better for you next time.
superbe merci pour ce beau partage
@EGCG – I’m sure your fabulous photos would do it more justice than mine did … although it’s pretty hard to take a BAD pic with scenery like that!!
@Valerie – There’s a lot to be said for armchair travel via blogs, isn’t there?!?!
@Sandra – I actually run out of superlatives to describe the landscape!!
@Betty – Missed you too! Lots of personal drama … but blogging keeps me sane!! Thanx as always for your kind words – so great you could drop by!
@MJWC – It’s actually a person AND a town – and an American person to boot!!
@Linda – Are you kidding?? We’re still finding pockets of it in out of the way spots on the car & in our camper trailer!
@Cathy – One day I’ll do an OZ food post … if I can get out from beneath the cloud of dust!!
@Sallie – However much time we have it’s too little … the more we explore, the more we find to do!!
@Jill – We really SHOULD have stayed at least another day!! Sometimes we look back at places we rushed through & wonder why we didn’t stay when we had the chance … and we’re actually considered ‘slow’ travellers by most people’s definitions!!
@Fun60 – Haha, the dust is the best part – NOT!!!
@Filip – Hahaha, you’re right! But we actually had to wash it several times …
@TMWH – Actually, I DON’T have to bottle the dust … we’re still finding little stashes of it in places we missed when we washed the car!!!
@Steffi – It was almost as much fun to write about as to visit!
@PDP – Actually, it’s BEYOND red!!! And such a pleasant surprise when I was expecting just another mining town like Port Hedland – ARRRRGGGHHH!
@Sharon – You’re right, it IS very similar to Arizona – although I can only compare via pictures, I’ve never been there! Maybe we should do a swap one day and see how similar it REALLY is!!
Great place…we have one thing in common in our travels and that is that there are so many places where we’ve been that we want to go back to…so many places and (in our case, I’m afraid) so little time….but we keep trying.
Another great post, OZ. I have learned so much about Australia by following along with you on your travels. I can’t imagine having to deal with all that red dust!
Excellent set of pictures! Did you ever get all that red dust off?
Tom Price sounds like a person and not a town…. again you out did yourself with the pictures.
totally awesome place, love the flowers, the bridge and the gorge… thanks for stopping by my post yesterday… and i like viewing other parts of the world i can’t see to
wow! my eyes are wide as eyes can go!
totally gorgeous place. the scenery is truly stunning!
always a delight to pop by your lovely spot for a visit.
A fabulous series – thanks so much for sharing the beauty of this region and accompanying background; it’s the only way I’d ever get to see it!! (Thanks too for visiting my blog).
What a great post this is. It looks like the kind of place I’d love to explore and photograph if I was in Australia. I love those interesting wildflowers you’ve shown and the canyon looks so much like areas in my own territory, Arizona. Now I’m off to find this place on Google Earth.
Wow! The area around Tom Price is stunning. I do love the name Mt. Nameless, someone’s fantastic sense of humour. 🙂 The photo ops appear to be endless. Oh how I would LVE to explore Tom Price!
Great photos and story behind the photos!Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane Red, it’s been years since we went up to Tom Price..you must have been in your element..sooooooo much red 🙂
Love the name,love the scenery, love that campsite hate that dust.
Karijini is a fantastic place to visit, and Tom Price is great to explore too. Did you go on a mine tour? I am not sure if Lake Knox was there when we last visited in 2004 – it looks cool and inviting. And the views from Mt Sheila are nothing short of spectacular! I wish we could have camped up there overnight to see the sunset sunrise.
Certainly there was enough RED in this post! Perhaps you should bottle a bit of the dust? It looks like you will have plenty to do next visit. I hope you make it to the summit soon.
Like your collage of wild flowers but you will have to wash your car.
@Iris – We were still removing red dust after we got home … it’s possible some of the attractions weren’t allowed when you were there?? And we didn’t do some of them either – maybe we should meet up & do them together!
@Rose – Haha, it’s ALL red and ALL good!! SO different from NNSW where I am now!!
@eileeninmd – Thank you! Not much to find wrong with this place, huh?!
@whiteangel – Thank you!! And you’re right – wherever we go, whatever the time of the year, there’s at least one wildflower waiting to be found!
@River – I was so excited when I saw the landscape for the 1st one I got Pilchard to stop the car immediately!! I took several trying to get it right – but the 1st one was the best! Go figure …
@Pauline – Haha, she WAS nuts!!! Just because the scenery is beautiful doesn’t mean I’d want to live there all year round!!!
@diane b – Hope you get to see it one day!! In the meantime, I’ve added SFlaGuy’s link to Tom’s name in the post. There really isn’t that much info about him!
That´s a great idea, Red, to visit there together!
Nah, guess we just didn´t know about it all. 1999, or rather ’98 (planning-phase) – Internet in Germany? Pffff… s.l.o.w and expensive, forget about that. All we had was “The lonely Planet – Australia”…
@Iris – it’s hard to imagine planning a trip pre-internet!! I didn’t even really know it existed back in the 90’s!! At least LP Australia showed you some good stuff, right?? I’m just filling in the blanks!!
@Carole – So RED it’s BEYOND red!! And one of the most extraordinary landscapes I’ve seen! Glad you enjoyed it!
@Andrew – It IS attractive when you’re not thinking of Lang or Gina!!! But you could probably say that about almost anything …
@ercotravels – It IS amazing – but I’m thinking totally NOT like India!
@Gemma – There’s been talk of allowing mining in Karijini National Park which horrifies me. You can’t drive anywhere much in the Pilbara without encountering mining and/or its effects. But between it all the scenery is AMAZING and more of it should be proclaimed National Park!
@SFlaGuy – Thanx for the link, I’ve added it to the post! There isn’t really much info about him – maybe if not for the circumstances of his death, he’d have dropped into oblivion??
@Aleah – This is SO typical of Australian place names, haha! But the local one (see above) is almost unpronounceable!! Look forward to reading about the Stone’s adventure – I’ve lost track of the other one!
@FruitCake – It doesn’t much matter what the town itself looks like when it’s surrounded by scenery like THIS!
Looks a great place but don’t know about that bull dust. Haven’t been there as yet to Tom Price.
The pink and purple flowers are called Pink Mulla Mulla, Purple Mulla Mulla. Don’t know the names of the others. It’s amazing that no matter where you go in Australia you always see some flower 🙂
I want to hear the Tom Price story too. It is a place I have often heard of but never seem so thanks for showing me around.
I find it hard to believe now that when my sister went to work at Mt Tom Price mine in the 60s, in the early days of its development, I thought she was nuts. I had no idea the area was so beautiful!
Of Thomas´s death I didn´t know but the rest of your first lines I did for a change, aww Tom Price!
Don´t remove Red dust too often, right? 😉
Heck, didn´t know you can drive on Mt Nameless – we had a Nissan patrol LWB 4WD… There is a mine tour? Awww – didn´t know that, either.
Can´t wait to retire (ha-ha) and come back with all your tips at hand, Red!
You take such fabulous photos Red! I love that first one and Lake Knoxwith the perfect bridge reflection.
Wow, so much red! The landscapes and views are beautiful. Love the Mt. Nameless and the wildflowers look pretty. Thanks for sharing the town and the park. Beautiful images. Have a great day!
Wow, great informative post! landscapes looking fetching to visit. really, you have an amazing account. To know about India travels then please visit.
G’day Red, I just love our rich red soils and stark but beautiful landscapes that seemingly go on forever. And those western wildflowers – swoonworthy for sure!
Awesome scenery at Karijini National Park!
such magnificent and spectacular red scenery; love it! The wildflowers are unique; another great post Red
A rather ‘neat’ little town!
Tom Price? What a name! Don’t the locals have another name for Mt Nameless? It’s so… creative haha By the way, I posted my first traveling stone photo on my latest post. I can’t forward it yet, since it’s the first time I’ve mentioned it. I have to drum up my readers’ interest first 😀 How’s the other stone? Sorry for the delay!
Sort of a short story I guess
I want to hear more about Tom Price.
The scenery is breathtaking! Like country begging to let be as is! Let it be beautiful Nature’s way! Love the drama of colour in that first photo and such a magnificent variety of wild flowers! Extraordinary to find that they grow so well in such a harsh and dusty environment!
You make it sound attractive, and not a mention of Lang or Gina. The wildflowers look unique.