I had no idea that at 747 metres (2450 ft) above sea level Tom Price is the highest town in Western Australia. I 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!
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 Mt 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!
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.
<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 …
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!