Like so many people in far north-western Australia, Barry Harrison comes from somewhere else. In his case it’s Melbourne, 5000km and light years removed from the brutal but beautiful place he now calls home – Karratha.
“Karratha is an amazing place – beautiful, harsh, dramatic – and while people always think of it as a mining town, there’s so much to do – you just have to get out and make your own fun,” says Barry.
He manages the Best Western Plus The Ranges Karratha, the newest luxury resort in the north-west with 73 self-contained apartments, expansive tropical gardens, swimming pool and a gourmet café called My Second Home.
“Our ratings are very high – It’s a lovely resort set among the ranges just outside town,” says Barry.
Originally founded in 1968 to accommodate iron ore workers, Karratha has evolved into a regional city of 20,000, most of whom are involved in either mining or the North West Shelf Venture, Australia’s largest resource development project.
“I’m gob-smacked at what they’ve been able to carve out of the environment,” he says.
Though most of his guests are visiting for work, Barry says there’s growing awareness of Karratha as a tourist destination due to its proximity to some the world’s oldest rock art on the nearby Burrup Peninsula, less than 30km away.
It’s estimated there are 40,000 rock engravings (petroglyphs) in the region, listed by the Heritage Council of Western Australia for its cultural significance in 2007.
In his spare time Barry stays busy as a member of the Volunteer Sea Rescue and loves getting out on the water in and around the islands of the Dampier Archipelago, one of Western Australia’s best diving and snorkelling spots.
“The marine life is quite extraordinary. You can see whale jumping out of the water and there are turtles, manta rays – it’s amazing.”