Pilbara Overview

The Pilbara subegion of the Western Australian Rangelands covers an area larger than 500,000 square kilometres and has about 4,665 kilometres of coastline. It is bordered by the Gascoyne subregion in the south, the Kimberley subregion in the North, the Indian Ocean to the west and the Desert Rangelands to the east. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 48,610 people lived in the Pilbara in 2010. View Tindale's tribal boundaries map to see the many language groups that make up the Pilbara indigenous community.

Aboriginal people have lived in the Pilbara for more than 30,000 years and the many different indigenous groups of the region call it Bilybarra, which means ‘dry country’. In 1818, Captain Philip Parker King arrived in the Dampier Archipelago, he was later followed by Francis Thomas Gregory who arrived in 1861 at Nickol Bay on the ‘Dolphin’.

The Pilbara’s primary economic activities include mining, petroleum, pastoralism and tourism. Mining and petroleum industries largely dominate the economic activity of the Pilbara. This subregion provides the majority of Western Australia’s iron ore, petroleum and natural gas exports and is often described as the nation’s powerhouse due to its abundance of natural resources. Some of the most significant mineral resources being mined in this region are iron ore, salt, molybdenum, manganese, gold, copper, tantalite and silver lead zinc.

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Pilbara Subregion