Millstream-Chichester National Park
Millstream–Chichester National Park in the western Pilbara protects two very different landscapes: in the north lies the rocky, sparsely vegetated Chichester Range, while in the south is the oasis-like Millstream, where a natural freshwater spring feeds beautiful lily-covered pools.
From Port Hedland via North West Coastal Hwy then Roebourne–Wittenoom Rd; from south via North West Coastal Hwy then Roebourne–Wittenoom Rd, or Pilbara Iron Access Rd (permit required); from south-east (Newman) via Great Northern Hwy then Roebourne–Wittenoom Rd
May to October
150 km south of Roebourne; 180 km north-west of Wittenoom
- DEC Karratha (08) 9182 2000
- Park ranger (08) 9184 5144
Permit required for Pilbara Iron Access Rd
199 736 ha
Roebourne (08) 9182 1060
Featured Activities in the National Park
Learn about the local Yindjibarndi people, pioneer life in the 1800s and the Millstream ecosystem at Millstream homestead
Walk the Murlunmunyjurna Track (5 km, 1½ hours) through a range of habitats and see Millstream palms and read interpretive signs about bush foods
Marvel at the beauty of Chinderwarriner Pool on Millstream Creek
- Millstream–Chichester National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
The ﬁrst European to discover and name Millstream, the surveyor and naturalist Francis Thomas Gregory in 1861, recommended its potential for grazing. Within four years, it was being used as a pastoral station although the historic Millstream homestead was not built until 1919. The pastoral property was worked for more than 100 years and at its peak ran 55 000 sheep. The national park was created in 1982 and the old Millstream homestead now houses the visitor centre.
The traditional owners of this land are the Yindjibarndi people. Millstream, known to the Yindjibarndi tribe as Ngarrari, was an important place for inter-tribal meetings. Chinderwarriner Pool, in particular, was a campsite where the people feasted on fresh ﬁsh and bush foods such as the ﬂeshy garliwirri, which tastes like coconut, the fruit of the bajila, and the black berries of the bungaa. The Yindjibarndi people today are immensely proud of their heritage and run informative programs for their children and visitors, to explain their culture and beliefs. Some of the people are employed as rangers in the national park.
The Chichester Range dominating the park is characterised by basalt ridges, clay tablelands, spinifex-clad hills and rugged plains. It rises abruptly from the coastal plain in the west to form a plateau that sprawls across the Pilbara landscape, with steep escarpments and gentler slopes that extend down to the banks of the Fortescue River, which winds through the south-west corner of the park. At the base of the Chichester escarpment is Python Pool, a deep waterhole that once provided much needed water for Afghani camel drivers; it is still a good place for a swim. Elsewhere in this northern section of the park are sandy watercourses, huge knobs of red rock and hidden gorges. A strenuous walk up Mount Herbert offers stunning panoramic views of bronzed coastal plains.
The landscape in the south is dramatically different. The Fortescue River is generally little more than a dry riverbed except during times of heavy rain, but around Millstream freshwater springs feed into a chain of natural depressions, creating a permanent wetland and a tropical paradise of ferns, cadjeputs, native palms, date palms planted by Afghan cameleers, picturesque pools and lily ponds. An easy walk from Millstream homestead, Chinderwarriner Pool, shaded by paperbarks and palms, has an oasis-in-a-desert appeal in this hot, dusty region. The lilies and water ferns that adorn it were planted when the area was a sheep station. Nearby are shady campsites for visitors.
Native plants and wildlife
Clumps of spiky spinifex and white-barked snappy gums grow between the rust-coloured rocks of the Chichester Range. The hills provide habitat for euros, red kangaroos, common rock-rats and native mice. Pilbara wildflowers bloom after winter rains and blaze with colour: the purples and pinks of the mulla mulla, the striking red and black of Sturt’s desert pea, the soft yellows of wattle and the orange hues of the cockroach bush.
The wetlands in the south are fringed by remnants of ancient rainforest and inhabited by rare plant and animal species: particularly notable is the diversity of dragonflies and damselflies, some endemic to this area, while colonies of black flying-foxes hang in the date palms and pelicans, black swans and cormorants congregate in wetland areas. At Chinderwarriner Pool, look for the rare Millstream palm (Livistona alfredi), with its smooth bark and fan-shaped leaves.
The visitor centre at Millstream has informative displays on Aboriginal culture, early settlers and the environment. Picnicking and ﬁshing are popular and canoeing, rafting and windsurﬁng are all possible on Deep Reach and Crossing Pool.
The walking trails in the park range from short rambles such as the Homestead Walk (750 metres, 30 minutes) with interpretive signs and wheelchair access, to Chichester Range Camel Trail, (8 km, 3 hours one way), which crosses the range between Mount Herbert and Python Pool.
There are two scenic drives, the short 6-kilometre Cliff Lookout Circuit, and the longer 33-kilometre Millstream Circuit (not suitable for caravans and trailers).
The two designated swimming areas are Deep Reach and Crossing Pool but visitors can swim in any of the permanent waterholes – with care, as the water can be deep and cold.
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