Noted for its vast mineral resources, especially iron ore, the Pilbara region of Western Australia is bounded by the De Grey River system in the north and by the Ashburton River system in the south. It stretches as far east as the Northern Territory border and is bounded on the west by the coastline from Port Hedland to Exmouth Gulf. The Pilbara region includes a section of the Great Sandy Desert. The Hamersley, Chichester and Ophthalmia Ranges run along a north-west to south-easterly curve.
The vast quantities of iron ore in the Pilbara are among the largest known deposits in the world. Other metals mined in the area include magnesium, copper and tin. The region also contains substantial limestone deposits and salt is produced by a solar process at Port Hedland and Dampier.
The first European to visit the region was Englishman William Dampier in 1688. The explorer Francis Thomas Gregory visited the north-west in 1861, and the first sheep station was established in 1864 in the vicinity of the De Grey River.