Onslow, Western Australia
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
Salt mine near Onslow
|Population||2011: 667 2006: 573|
|Established||1885 (1925 moved)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Ashburton|
|State electorate(s)||North West|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Onslow is a coastal town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 1,386 kilometres (861 mi) north of Perth. It has a population of 667 people and is in the Shire of Ashburton local government area.
Onslow was gazetted on 3 November 1885 as a town to serve the port at Ashburton Roads, at the mouth of the Ashburton River, exporting wool from sheep stations of the Pilbara hinterland. It was named after the then Chief Justice of Western Australia, Sir Alexander Onslow (1842–1908).
Wool continued to be the major industry for the next eighty years, despite the extraordinary extremes of drought and flood that characterize the region and are related to the passage or absence of cyclones. For instance, whereas in 1912 Onslow received only 14.8 millimetres (0.58 in) of rainfall and in 1935 and 1936 combined only 120 millimetres (4.7 in), between late January and early March 1961 three cyclones smashed into the town and gave it 900 millimetres (35.4 in) in five weeks.
Although a large jetty was built at the original site of Onslow (Old Onslow), repeated cyclone damage and the silting up of the river causing increasing problems with the loading and unloading of visiting ships, with cargo transferred by lighter from the ship in Ashburton Roads to the jetty, then by horse-tram from the jetty across 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of marshland inland to the town, led the state government in 1923 to develop a new town and jetty 20 kilometres (12 mi) eastnortheast at Beadon Creek. The new townsite was gazetted in January 1924, and the residents of Old Onslow moved across in 1925. The new location for Onslow's jetty was better protected from storm damage with the townsite more conveniently located on the coast.
A major long-term drought between 1935 and 1941, during which time only one cyclone hit (in April 1937) and did not produce rain on the inland sheep stations, led to a decline in Onslow's fortunes.
Since the war, the declining purchasing power of wool has, in spite of consistently good rainfall on the inland sheep stations since the late 1960s, led to a change in focus of Onslow's economy from wool to tourism. It is an access point for Coral Coast activities, such as scuba diving on the coral reefs offshore from the town.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Onslow (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- "Government Gazette". The Inquirer & Commercial News. 4 November 1885. p. 3. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013.
- "A trip to the Ashburton". The West Australian. 12 August 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013.
- Jabyn (12 July 1923). "Beadon - The New North-West Port". The Western Mail. p. 42. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013.
- Webb, Martyn and Audrey (1983) Edge of Empire Artlook Books ISBN 0-86445-028-1
- Onslow Information Updated 07-Apr-11