The Pilbara education region covers the Indian Ocean coastline, through the Hamersley Range to the Great Sandy Desert with an expansive and varied landscape.
A couple of days drive north of Perth and you will find yourself amongst the oldest rocks on the planet, and home to the world’s oldest continuous living culture. Here you will be able to explore all that nature has to offer with coastal archipelagos, rocky peaks, wide-open gorges and the rugged Australian outback.
The Pilbara's population of over 63,000 people is spread across an area twice the size of the United Kingdom, with the majority living in the larger coastal cities of Karratha and Port Hedland. The population is a diverse mix of locals and people from other parts of Australia and the world, with a third of residents born outside of Australia.
There are 9,643 students across 29 public schools that vary from city institutions with large student numbers to remote community schools.
There are a number of primary and high schools in the larger mining towns of Karratha, Port Hedland, Newman and Tom Price, providing academic and general courses, vocational certificates and engagement programs. Smaller towns and communities in the region have a primary or remote school with some secondary education options available.
Teaching in the Pilbara can offer an incredibly enriching experience that will be equal parts challenging and rewarding. Like the varied Pilbara landscape from coast to desert, students in the region are from a range of educational backgrounds.
Due to the large number of mining and resources opportunities in the region, many families have relocated to the Pilbara to work and live. Outside of the more populated mining towns are remote communities with a greater percentage of Aboriginal students.
Schools in the Pilbara are often multicultural and, with Aboriginal people representing almost 14% of the population, teachers must have a broad understanding of how students learn and be confident in classroom management strategies to meet the needs of their students.
The region encompasses over 31 traditional Aboriginal language groups, as such cultural awareness and an appreciation of the importance of family and relationships are essential to establish trust and a good working relationship with students, their families and the wider community.
Pilbara schools are often a mix of experienced staff and those new to teaching or leadership positions. There is a strong focus on creating culturally responsive learning environments that build on the strength of students, providing high levels of passion and support within the school. Teachers need to be adaptable, resilient and able to work closely with their colleagues.
The Pilbara is home to Australia’s resources industry playing an integral part in the local economy; mining and supplying crude oil, salt, natural gas and iron ore globally. In fact, most of Australia’s iron ore comes from the Pilbara and is exported through Port Hedland. The Pilbara’s strong and expanding resources sector employs thousands of workers and continues to provide significant opportunities for employment and business development for residents and fly-in fly-out workers.
Much of the population lives along the coastline of the Pilbara region and the larger centres are well-serviced by shopping, entertainment, medical, sports and recreational facilities. In addition to schools, the region boasts one University and one TAFE (an institution for Technical and Further Education).
The Pilbara has 2 definitive seasons; hot and dry, or hot and wet. The coastal towns experience mild winters but high humid temperatures over the summer.
Cyclone season extends from November to April and while you need to be aware and prepare, the housing and facilities are built to withstand cyclonic winds. Inland, the towns experience extremely high temperatures and extended dry periods. Summer months can be extremely hot and outdoor activities tend to be held in the relative cool of the evening and teachers often head south for the school holidays.
Housing is provided through the Government Regional Officers Housing (GROH) program with generous allowances and additional benefits. The cyclone-proof houses are air-conditioned and subsidies are offered to teachers in the region to help with the additional costs of living in the region.
Travelling to Perth is a 17-hour drive or 2-hour flight from Port Hedland and a 12-hour drive or just under an hour and a half flight from Newman. In recent times Port Hedland offered regular flights direct to Bali, Indonesia. The direct flight from Port Hedland to Denpasar is only two hours, however, the flights have been suspended, but are expected to return in 2023.
The Pilbara region boasts beautiful time-carved gorges, grottos, waterfalls, glassy pools, hypnotic rock formations, outcrops of red ochre surrounded by dry spinifex grasses, and vast open skies. If you have an adventurous spirit, love four-wheel-driving, camping, diving, fishing, hiking and exploring, the Pilbara may be the right teaching position to suit your lifestyle.
Many locations are uniquely situated less than a day’s drive from stunning locations including Karijini and Millstream Chichester National Parks, Exmouth, Coral Bay and the Dampier Archipelago, Montebello and Mackerel islands.
There is remarkable history and Aboriginal culture to discover throughout the region including rock art and carvings, with some dating back at least 40,000 years - more than 10 times older than the pyramids of Egypt.
The region also boasts an active art and cultural community with many events held throughout the year such as the Cossack Art Awards, the North West Festival and the Red Earth Arts Festival. Country horse racing is a unique experience in the Pilbara, held on dirt tracks with a carnival atmosphere. Marble Bar, which claims the title of the ‘hottest place on Earth’, holds entertaining races drawing crowds from far and wide.
The Pilbara coast and island network offers many exciting adventures and experiences such as unparalleled fishing and diving opportunities. Inland there are many amazing gorges, waterfalls and billabongs to discover. Camping is a popular activity, with clear starry nights and carpets of wildflowers in winter.
With so much to experience right on your doorstep, living and teaching in the Pilbara offers you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the untamed beauty, culture and community of the region.