The Rural Clinical School of WA


The Pilbara town of Karratha – an Aboriginal word meaning ‘good country’ - was established in 1968 to service the Hamersley iron ore operations and the Dampier Salt project.

Development of the North West Shelf gas fields and onshore LNG processing and export facilities exploded the town into the busy administrative centre of the West Pilbara it is today.

Located 1 557 kilometres north of Perth it boasts spectacular scenes of nature including Millstream and Karijini National Parks, the Dampier Archipelago and the Aboriginal rock art along the Burrup Peninsula. The weather is warm and pleasant all year around encouraging an outdoor lifestyle, which is complemented by beautiful beaches and stunning natural surrounds.

The town has developed into the largest and most economically diverse community in the Pilbara and is home to an estimated 27 000 people including around 10 000 ‘fly-in-fly-out’ (FIFO) workers. Karratha's town centre has the largest shopping centre, ‘Karratha City’ (retail floor space 23 600m2) in the Pilbara, and in 2013 the Karratha Leisureplex opened, featuring a fitness centre, aquatic centre, indoor and outdoor courts as well as playing fields.

Karratha is equipped with modern educational and entertainment facilities and operates the busiest airport outside of the metropolitan area.

The RCSWA Karratha office is centrally located on Warambie Road, close to the CBD. Students have 24/7 access to the office facilities, which include computers, a photocopier, a printer, a library and skills equipment.


Karratha currently has one fully equipped, five bedroom house, approximately five minutes’ drive from both the office and the hospital. The house has a below-ground swimming pool.

Public transport in Karratha is limited and students are advised to take a vehicle with them when selecting this location.

Health services

Karratha is serviced by the Nickol Bay Hospital, Sonic Health Plus and the Karratha Medical Centre.  Students will also travel to Onslow Hospital, Wickham Primary Health Centre and the Mawarnkarra Aboriginal Medical Service at Roebourne.

Karratha Medical Centre and Sonic Health Plus are both large general practices that provide clinical teaching experience for the RCS students.

Nickol Bay Hospital

Nickol Bay Hospital caters for paediatric, general medical, surgical and maternity patients. The maternity unit is kept busy with almost 300 births per year.  There is also a busy Accident and Emergency department and the operating theatre has about four surgical lists a week. Outpatient clinics are run by visiting and resident specialists.

Resident specialists

  • Paediatrician
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Anaesthetist
  • Psychiatrist

Visiting specialists

  • 2 General surgeons 
  • Nephrologist 
  • Neurologist 
  • Paediatric Endocrinologist 
  • Respiratory Paediatrician
  • Cardiologists (paediatric and adult)
  • Emergency Physician
  • Dermatologist
  • ENT surgeon
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Orthopaedic specialist
  • Paediatrician
  • Plastic surgeon
  • Psychologist
  • Renal specialist
  • Rheumatologist
  • Urologist
  • Physician
  • Endocrinologist
  • Sexual Health Physician
  • Radiologist
  • Geriatrician

Community services

  • Mawarnkarra Aboriginal Health Service
  • Community Health Centre (Population Health)
    Child Health Nurses and Community Midwives
  • Occupational Therapist
    Speech Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Pilbara Health Network
    Allied Health Team – Diabetes Educator, Dietician, Podiatrist

Private diagnostic facilities

  • Western Diagnostic Pathology
  • PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA
  • Global Imaging (x-rays, CT scans and ultra sounds)
  • Karratha Hearing and Speech Pathology

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Last updated:
Monday, 19 January, 2015 4:12 PM