Aboriginal Australians, the world’s oldest continuous living civilization, have always known that the Pilbara region of Western Australia is among the world’s oldest places. And finally, science has confirmed this.

The Pilbara is home to stromatolites, the fossilized evidence of the Earth’s oldest lifeforms that date back to roughly 3.6 billion years ago. The region’s huge formations of iron-rich rock declared by scientists to be the best-preserved example of the world’s most ancient crust existed before the beginning of oxygen and life itself. Stromatolites are found on Pilbara rock, so old that it has no fossils within its structure. Surprisingly, the world’s largest living stromatolites system is still surviving and fizzing in the hypersaline bay of Hamlin Pool at Shark Bay just south of the Pilbara. It is one of just two places on Earth where living marine stromatolites exist. Despite its appearance as a semi-arid desert, the Pilbara has one of the world’s most magnificent national parks. The surreal splendor of Karijini National Park is found deep within its ancient gorges and sheer-sided chasms, where spectacular waterfalls and crystal-clear waterholes are nestled among the striated granite carved out of the ground by billions of years of erosion.

The Pilbara’s appeal stems from its long history. There are no crowds, fences, buildings, or other modern-day sightings; just an ancient site with guardians who invite you to embark on your path of exploration.