Things to See & Do
Whether your trip to Onslow is for work or play, you’ll find an interesting variety of things to see and do in and around Onslow.
Blending natural attractions, a quintessential Aussie coastal lifestyle, and mining investment, the growth of the community is evident while still maintaining its small town feel.
Originally known as Ashburton, Onslow in Western Australia is a pretty coastal town with a history steeped in sheep and cattle farming, pearl farming and gold mining. It is the oldest town in the Ashburton Shire.
Onslow’s history is well represented and documented at the Goods Shed Museum.
In the early settlement days, pearls were found in Exmouth Gulf and the town became home port to a fleet of pearling luggers.
The town has been touched by cyclones over the years and even war in 1943, when a single Japanese plane reached here in World War II, bombing the airfield.
Onslow boasts a warm, sunny climate, with average annual temperatures ranging between
19.2 °C – 32.1 °C.
Old Onslow Ruins
The original township of Onslow was located at the mouth of the Ashburton River, 18km from Onslow.
Established in 1885 on Thalanyji country, it was abandoned in 1925 and relocated to the new townsite where Onslow exists today.
Originally built to supply a port to export wool, gold and pearls and provided port access for local station owners and graziers, problems with cyclone damage and silting forced the relocation.
Ruins of the original buildings such as the gaol, courthouse, police station, post office and hospital remain today, and the pioneer cemetery dates back to 1897, provide a haunting insight into past lives and colonial settlement.
As you explore the site the app recounts fascinating stories, including historical photos and audio from a bygone era.
Ocean Sunrises & Sunsets
Incredibly, you can experience both a sunrise and sunset over the ocean in Onslow.
Onslow is situated on a peninsula on the coast of Western Australia, and the unique position captures the sun’s arc rising and setting over two beaches.
First Avenue runs along Sunrise Beach. Back Beach Road, off Simpson Street, takes you to Sunset Beach. Both beaches are ideal for swimming.
Staircase to the Moon
Onslow is one of the best places in Western Australia to view the Staircase to the Moon – a spectacular natural phenomenon seen only in the northern region of WA.
Occurring from March to November, the Staircase to the Moon is caused by the rising of a full moon reflecting off exposed mudflats at low tide, creating a beautiful optical illusion of stairs reaching up to the moon.
Hidden Treasures Tour
Discover Onslow’s quirky stories, fascinating sights and hidden attractions in this 2-3 hour tour.
Book at the Onslow Visitor Centre.
The Neil and Judy Baker Shell Museum houses Australia’s biggest shell collection.
Neil, an 84 year old Onslow local, has been a fisherman for most of his life and spent over 60 years developing his impressive seashell collection to include thousands of stunning specimens.
Now on display at 50 Third Avenue (a 5 minute walk from the Onslow Beach Resort), open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, or visit through the Hidden Treasures Tour run by the Onslow Visitor Centre.
Goods Shed Museum
Located only a few steps from the Onslow Beach Resort, the Goods Shed Museum is a historical building, listed by National Heritage.
It was originally built in 1904 in Old Onslow, but was moved by camel train into the new Onslow townsite in 1925.
The museum contains many historic artefacts and memorabilia, giving a true insight to Onslow’s history and what life was like for the pioneers, along with significant events that have had an impact on the town.
Paparazzi Dogs Bronze Statues
Public art on the Onslow foreshore.
This custom designed Gillie and Marc replica of the world’s most notorious photographers depicts them capturing the sunrise, sunset and staircase to the moon over Onslow’s Front Beach. Set up alongside locals and tourists, the paparazzi dogs have their cameras ready, waiting for these spectacular sights to appear.
Gillie and Marc’s Paparazzi Dogs are the world’s most notorious photographers. The four bronze Dogmen have sniffed out the rich and famous in Melbourne’s Federation Square, the Jing’an Sculpture Park in Shanghai, and New York’s Greenwich Village and the Rockefeller Center. The sculptures have gone from being an art experiment about photographing celebrities to sought-after celebrities in their own right. When Gillie and Marc first launched the series, within days the life-sized dogs went viral with millions of visitors coming to see them. People from all over the world, along with celebrities such as Snoop Dog, were eager to pose with the Pap Dogs, quickly giving them a celebrity status.
The Onslow Beach Resort sits right on the Beadon Bay shorefront, which has a beautiful stretch of untouched Pilbara coastline and breathtaking views out to the Mackerel Islands on a clear day.
The beachfront’s fine red sand, typical of the Pilbara area, is ideal to enjoy coastal walks or energetic runs.
The bay has an incredibly calming quality, and curves around to capture both sunrises and sunsets!
The local Thalanyji people have been custodians of this river system for over 60,000 years. The river is a sacred Aboriginal site because of its connection to the rainbow serpent spirit, called “Wanamangura” by Thalanyji and “Warlu” in other Pilbara languages.
Dutch voyagers later charted the river circa 1627 and named it “Willem’s River”. It was also named “Curlew River” in 1818 by Commander Phillip Parker King, after the numerous bird life, and then “Ashburton River” in 1861 by the surveyor and explorer Francis T Gregory.
There are a wide variety of fish and bird species often spotted, including barramundi, mangrove jack, heron, black swans and bush stone-curlew.
Camping is allowed along the banks of the river at 3-Mile. There are no facilities, so you must bring everything you need.
This is a popular area with the locals, as is 5-Mile, which is also a favourite swimming hole.
Termite Mounds & Ant Hills
Marvel at the prolific termite mounds and ant nests in their natural state dotted around the Onslow landscape.
These red sand structures, some up to 7m high, contrasting against the blue sky and green shrub land are a unique, unmissable feature providing fantastic photo opportunities.
Onslow has two lookouts located a short distance from one another, with both providing a wonderful view of the ocean and incredibly colourful sunrises and sunsets.
From the lookouts you can see the remains of the old jetty.
At the bottom lookout, nearest the caravan park, is a monument to those who were lost at sea
during Cyclone Bobby in 1995.
Ian Blair Memorial Boardwalk
Onslow’s Ian Blair Memorial Boardwalk is a timber walkway that starts at the lookout at Beadon Point and winds through natural vegetation to Sunset Beach.
A great way to enjoy the sunrise or the sunset during a leisurely stroll.
Onslow Anzac War Memorial
In 2008 a new Anzac War Memorial was erected at Beadon Point in Onslow, depicting the Australian Defence Force’s badge emblem of the Rising Sun insignia.
The sculpture is geographically positioned so that the rays of the rising sun shine directly through the arch at dawn on each and every Anzac Day.
Designed by internationally acclaimed artisans Charlie and Joan Smith of Smith Sculptors, the work is a technical feat of astrophysics to achieve the accuracy required for the flaming sun orb to appear centre stage within the sculpture as it rises over the bay.
With the inscription “We Will Remember Them”, the memorial commemorates Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women who have served in all wars and conflicts.
St Nicholas Church
The first St Nicholas Church was located in Old Onslow, built in 1904 but destroyed by a cyclone in 1909. The Anglican worshippers from this year held their church services in private homes until the Mechanics Institute Hall opened in 1912. When Onslow was relocated to the new town site at Beadon Point, a building fund committee worked to raise over 600 pounds for constructing the new church, built in 1927 and strong enough to survive a number of cyclones.
Now heritage-listed, St Nicholas Church has significant aesthetic, historic, social and rarity heritage value. Valued by local residents and visitors alike, the pretty church has important streetscape value. For over 70 years the church has been the home of Anglican worship for the Onslow residents and is a fine and rare example of a building of such calibre in the North West.
Onslow Rodeo (annual event)
The Onslow Rodeo is a must-see community event if you are around town or passing by in August.
Live music performances, children’s entertainment, stalls, food and riders bring all the fun of the rodeo.
Held every year, the Onslow Rodeo is a true insight to the town’s outback culture with many travelling from the local stations to attend.
Passion of the Pilbara Festival (biennial event)
POPis a two day fun-filled family festival, jam packed with kids activities, high profile entertainers, live music, stage shows, carnival rides, amusement games, show bags, food, drinks and more.
Held every two years, Onslow comes alive for the weekend attracting large crowds. The event is full of exhilarating fun and promises to create great memories with family and friends for years to come!
Onslow Salt Pty Ltd is one of the largest employers in Onslow. The state-of-the-art solar salt plant occupies approximately 90 square kilometres of what was natural salt flats in the immediate surroundings.
The area is a fascinating place to visit – you can see how salt is produced, from initial pumping of seawater into the concentration ponds, through to evaporation, crystallisation, harvesting and purification to the final product: the salt we use every day.
Since the establishment of Onslow Salt’s ponds, many species of bird and wildlife have been attracted to the area and you may see pelicans, cormorants, wading birds, sea eagles, as well as kangaroos, emus and wild turkeys during your visit.
Chevron’s Wheatstone Gas Project
Chevron’s Wheatstone Natural Gas site is located close to the Old Onslow Townsite where a large gas processing plant was constructed during 2012/13.
The development that is currently being seen in Onslow and the growth of the town is largely due to the arrival of the Wheatstone Project in the area.
The offshore Wheatstone and nearby Iago natural gas resources are located about 200km (124 miles) north of Onslow off Western Australia’s coast.
Onslow Beach Resort is the gateway to the Mackerel Islands and a visit to Onslow isn’t complete without a trip out to this little slice of barefoot paradise. One of WA’s best kept secrets, the Mackerel Islands are a haven for sea turtles, wildlife, snorkelling, fishing and island holiday fun.
Stay in a choice of air-conditioned beachfront cabins overlooking the Indian Ocean, with everything you need for pure relaxation.
Located just 45 minutes by boat from Onslow, you can book your island stay, ferry transfers or boat mooring, tours and activities with us here.
To find out more about the Mackerel Islands, visit www.mackerelislands.com.au.
Located 75km east of Onslow (7km off the NW Coastal Hwy, along the Onslow-Peedamulla Rd), Peedamulla Station and Campground is an Aboriginal owned and run working cattle station open to the public for visits and camping, developed in conjunction with Tourism WA’s Camping With Custodians initiative.
Peedamulla Station was established in the 1880’s and once carried over 35,000 sheep. Almost 100 years later after cyclones, floods, drought, 7 owners and re-stocking with cattle, the Parker family was appointed managers and later purchased the station. Today, Peedamulla operates as a cattle station and campground. Visitors in mid-July may be lucky enough to see the annual muster herding hundreds of cattle ready for market.
The campground office is a beautifully restored stone heritage building, surrounded by a collection of objects showing some of Peedamulla’s rich history. The remains of other buildings around the office, which are listed on the State heritage register for their significance, show a bygone time.
Activities include guided and self-guided 4WD tours and trekking – see www.peedamulla.com.au/activities for more.
For more things to see and do in Onslow visit the Onslow Visitor Centre at ashburton.wa.gov.au