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Port Hedland Fast Facts
- State: WA
- District: Port Hedland District
- Famous for/as: Heritage
- Population: 15,044(2011 census)
- Altitude: 6 m
- Language: English
- Best Season:
- Local Transport:
- Pincode: 6721
Port Hedland Info
13 Wedge Street, Port Hedland
Phone: (08) 9173 1711
Fax: 9173 2632
Port Hedland, Australia Overview
Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000, including the satellite town of South Hedland, 18 km away.
Port Hedland is a natural deep anchorage port which, as well as being the main fuel and container receival point for the region, was seen as perfect for shipment of the iron ore being mined in the ranges located inland from the town. The ore is moved by railway lines from four major iron ore deposits to the east and south of Port Hedland area. In August 2010 the port exported 13.6 million tonnes of iron ore. Other major resource activities supported include the offshore natural gas fields, salt, manganese, and livestock. Grazing of cattle and sheep was formerly a major revenue earner for the region but this has slowly declined. Port Hedland was formerly the terminus for the WAGR Marble Bar Railway which serviced the gold mining area of Marble Bar.
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Must See Places in Port Hedland, Australia
Port Hedland, Australia History
Port Hedland is known by the Indigenous Kariyarra and Nyamal people as Marapikurrinya, which either means "place of good water" (as told by a Nyamal language speaker) and makes reference to the three reliable fresh water soaks that can still be seen in and around the town, or as the town council's website says "refers to the hand like formation of the tidal creeks coming off the harbour (marra - hand, pikurri - pointing straight and nya - a place name marker)". According to Dreamtime legend there was a huge blind water snake living in the landlocked area of water known as Jalkawarrinya. This landlocked area is now the turning basin for the ships that enter the port and as the story goes, "the coming of the big ships meant it was unable to stay".
Though the coastline in the area had been explored in the 18th century, Captain Peter Hedland was one of the first Europeans to explore the harbour for the purpose of developing an export port. Peter Hedland arrived in the area in April 1863 onboard his boat, Mystery that he had built himself at Point Walter on the banks of the Swan River. He named the harbour Mangrove Harbour and reported that it would make a good landing site with a well protected harbour and that there was also fresh water available. What Hedland failed to point out was that the harbour was difficult to enter because of a huge sandbar that sealed the entrance meaning it was only accessible at high tide and that it was difficult to enter in bad weather because of the narrow entrance.
In 1866, the resident Magistrate of Roebourne, Treverton Sholl, commissioned Charles Wedge to investigate alternative town sites to Roebourne. Wedge's reports were pessimistic about the suitability of Port Hedland. In 1891, exploration of the area by Tom Traine, John Wedge and Syd Hedley identified two landings and described the harbour as "pretty as well as safe". In September 1895, Cossack residents requested the District Surveyor to survey the headland at Port Hedland and requested the Government to build a jetty.