:"For the fly genus, see "Pilbara (fly).

The Pilbara is a region in the north of Western Australia. It is one of nine regions of the "Regional Development Commissions Act 1993", and is also a region under the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA).cite paper | author = Environment Australia | title = Revision of the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) and Development of Version 5.1 - Summary Report | publisher = Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Australian Government | url = http://www.deh.gov.au/parks/nrs/ibra/version5-1/summary-report/index.html | accessdate = 2007-01-31] [http://www.deh.gov.au/parks/nrs/ibra/version6-1/index.html IBRA Version 6.1] data]

Etymology of name

The WA Gas Industry [ [http://www.nwsg.com.au/industry/pilbaraplaces.html WA Gas Industry: Interesting Facts ] ] claims that the region takes its name from "pilbarra", an Aboriginal word for the mullet and that the name was derived from the Pilbara Goldfield, discovered in 1885, which was itself named after Pilbara Creek (originally spelt "Pilbarra") a tributary of the Yule River. Alternatively, Wangka Maya (Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre) says in its publication "Bilybara" (p. ii) that it derives from the name for the Pilbara region in Nyamal and Banyjima, "bilybara" meaning 'dry'.


The first European to explore the area was Francis Gregory in 1861 and mining first started in 1943 in Wittenoom Gorge.cite book |title=Discover Australia's National Parks |last=Hema Maps |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1997 |publisher=Random House Australia |location=Milsons Point, New South Wales |isbn=1975992472 |pages=274]

The "Regional Development Commissions Act" region

Under the "Regional Development Commissions Act" regionalisation, it is situated south of the Kimberley, and is made up of the local government areas of Ashburton, East Pilbara, Port Hedland and Roebourne.

The Pilbara region covers an area of 507,896 km² (including offshore islands). It has a population of just under 40,000 people, most of whom live in the western third of the region. Most Pilbara residents live in the region's towns, which include Port Hedland, Karratha, Wickham, Newman and Marble Bar. A substantial number of people also work in the region on a fly-in/fly-out basis.

The Pilbara consists of three distinct geographic areas. The western third is coastal sandplain, and supports most of the region's population and much of its industry and commerce. The eastern third is almost entirely desert, and is sparsely populated by a small number of Aboriginal peoples.

The region has inland ranges - the dominant being the Hamersley Range which has a considerable number of mining towns, and natural attractions in the form of gorges. The region contains some of the world's oldest surface rocks, including the ancient fossilised remains known as stromatolites and rocks such as granites that are more than three billion years old. A detailed geological history and description is given in the Pilbara Craton article.


The climate of the Pilbara is semi-arid and arid, with high temperatures and low rainfall. During the summer months, maximum temperatures exceed 32°C (90°F) almost every day, and temperatures in excess of 45°C (113°F) are not uncommon.The Pilbara town of Marble Bar set a world record of most consecutive days of maximum temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) or more, during a period of 160 such days from 31 October, 1923 to 7 April, 1924.cite web|url=http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/temp1.htm|title=Marble Bar heatwave, 1923-1924|work=Australian Climate Extremes|publisher=Bureau of Meteorology|accessdate=2008-09-21]

Flooding is a major hazard in the Pilbara with periods of torrential rainfall between November and May. Like most of the north coast of Australia the coastal areas of the Pilbara experience frequent tropical cyclones. Due to the relatively low population density in the Pilbara region cyclones rarely cause large scale destruction or loss of life.


The Pilbara's economy is dominated by mining and petroleum industries. [ "The Pilbara’s oil and gas industry is the region’s largest export industry earning $5.0 billion in 2004/05 accounting for over 96% of the State's production." source - http://www.pdc.wa.gov.au/industry/types-of-industries/oil-and-gas.aspx ]

Most of Australia's iron ore is mined in the Pilbara, with mines mostly centred around Tom Price and Newman. The iron ore industry employs 9000 people from the Pilbara area. The Pilbara also has one of the world's major manganese mines, Woodie Woodie, situated convert|400|km southeast of Port Hedland.

Iron ore reserves were first discovered by Lang Hancock, and considerable portions of the Pilbara region are still claimed by his daughter Gina Rinehart and the family company Hancock Prospecting continues to gain from its interests in the region - as well as commencing its own mine workings. Blue asbestos was first mined in Wittenoom Gorge in 1943.

The region also has a substantial tourist sector, with popular natural attractions including the Karijini and Millstream-Chichester national parks, the Dampier Archipelago and the Ningaloo Reef.


The first railway in the Pilbara region was the narrow gauge Marble Bar Railway between Port Hedland and Marble Bar.

Currently four heavy duty railways are associated with the various iron ore mines, with a fifth line proposed to serve the Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. mines. The railways are all standard gauge and are built to the heaviest North American standards. The total tonnage of ore exceeds 150MT per year. Fact|date=June 2008


The ports and their mines include:

* Port Hedland
** Mount Whaleback near Newman
** Jimblebar
** Yandi
** Area C

* Finucane
** Mount Goldsworthy
** Shay Gap
** Yarrie

* Dampier
** Tom Price
** Paraburdoo
** Marandoo
** West Angelas
** Yandicoogina

* Cape Lampert
** Pannawonica

Environment and Ecology

The Pilbara is home to a wide variety of endemic species, including dozens of species of stygofauna; microscopic invertebrates which live underground in the aquifers of the region.

The Pilbara olive python is only one of many endangered species of animals within the fragile ecosystems of the desert. Several species of acacia (wattle) trees are endemic to the Pilbara and are the focus of conservation programs.

The protection of culturally and environmentally sensitive areas of the Pilbara is also advanced by the delineation of several world-famous National Parks, namely the Millstream-Chichester National Park and the Karijini National Park.

ee also

*North West Australia
*Pilbara historical timeline
*Pilbara newspapers


Further reading

*Sharp, Janet, and Nicholas Thieberger. (1992). "Aboriginal languages of the Pilbara Region: Bilybara". Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre, Port Hedland WA.

External links

* [http://www.wangkamaya.org.au/index.htm/ Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre]
* [http://www.pdc.wa.gov.au/ Pilbara Development Commission]
* [http://pilbara.mq.edu.au/ NASA-Macquarie University Pilbara Education Project]
* [http://members.iinet.net.au/~bush/research.html Olive Python captive breeding program]
* [http://www.worldwidewattle.com/infogallery/misc/pilbara.php Pilbara wattle conservation program]
* [http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/Destinations/Australias+North+West/The+Pilbara/Karijini+National+Park.htm Karijini National Park]
* [http://www.yamatji.org.au/ Yamatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation] , the Native Title Representative Body incorporating the Pilbara Native Title Service
* [http://www.consminerals.com.au/manganese.20.html Woodie Woodie mine details]

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