The Pilbara’s Burrup Peninsula, home to around 10,000 indigenous rock engravings, number 87 on Australian Traveller’s ‘100 amazing places you haven’t been to yet‘. Nominated by: Jayne Smeulders, principal artist at West Australian Ballet.

There’s no place like home and for ballerina Jayne Smeulders, that means the Pilbara.

“I always look forward to our tours to the towns of Karratha and Dampier for a few reasons. One being that it is my place of birth and two, the spectacular scenery: this area is where the magnificent hills of the Pilbara meet the Indian Ocean,” she says.

One trip was particularly memorable: “we went to the Burrup Peninsula on the Dampier Archipelago, where we explored the largest concentration of rock carvings and stone arrangements known in Australia. I remember being so blown away by the sights we saw that I have always wanted to go back with my family.”

There are more than a million petroglyphs on the peninsula, which is tucked between the two mining towns of Karratha and Dampier. The best place to see them is at Deep Gorge, where there are more than 10,000 rock engravings in one relatively small area – just follow the road signs on the 351 (Dampier Hwy/Burrup Road) from Karratha or Dampier to Hearson’s Cove and Deep Gorge. Turn right onto Hearson Cove Road, then take the walking track.

It will take a few minutes for your eyes to pick out the carvings – some of which are thought to be up to 20,000 years old – but once your eyes get accustomed to it you’ll see thousands: everything from emus and boomerangs to thylacines (Tasmanian Tigers).

“Apart from the history, this part of the Pilbara is a place of natural beauty and every time I visit it gives me such a special feeling. It’s a great spot for fishing and visiting beautiful beaches where you can be alone for miles,” says Smeulders.

The one spot she always tries to find time to visit is Point Sampson, around 57 kilometres north-east of Karratha. With its beautiful beaches, coral gardens and range of accommodation options, we here at Australian Traveller reckon it’s set to become the new Broome – but as far as Smeulders is concerned it’s all about the seafood.

“If you are a fish and chip lover like me, The Point Samson Tavern is the best! If you are there in the right season you will even see the whales travelling whilst you enjoy your meal.”


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