Port Walcott

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Port Walcott (historic name : Tien Tsin Harbour) is a large open water Iron ore loading port located on the North West coast of Western Australia (WA). It is one of three major iron ore exporting ports in the Pilbara region, and in the top five ports in Australia by volume (81 million tonnes in 2010/11).[1]


Port Walcott is at a latitude of -20.65336 decimal degrees and a longitude of 117.19988 decimal degrees (GDA94 datum (Geocentric datum of Australia), which is for many practical purposes equivalent to WGS84.[2] It is at an elevation of 0 m above sea level. The nearest village to Port Walcott is Point Samson about 2.81 km away. Point Samson has a population of about around 310 (based on the 2001 census). Port Walcott receives an annual rainfall of about 295 mm. The most rain received by Port Walcott in a day was 336 mm.

Port Walcott lies close to (and to the East of) Port Dampier and to the west of Port Hedland. It is often more prominently marked on geography and political maps as Cape Lambert. Other landmarks close to it include Point Samson, Jarman Island, Butchers Inlet and the historic port town of Cossack (Tien Tsin), the first port in the north - west of Western Australia. The historic town of Roebourne is situated further inland on the banks of the Harding River.[3]


Early European exploration of northwest Western Australia commenced around the Nickol Bay and Port Walcott areas, as colonial settlers established pastoral and pearling industries in the Early 18th century. Shipping links to the outside world centred on the port of Cossack (historic name : Tien Tsin, ow a ghost town) .

In 1818, the explorer and surveyor Captain Phillip Parker King, in the Mermaid, charted Nickol Bay. Visits to the region by American whalers are recorded to have occurred from around the 1840–50s. In April 1861, a government-funded expedition sailed to Nickol Bay in the Dolphin, while in 1862, Bateman (of John and Walter Bateman) sent his vessel Flying Foam to harvest pearl shell in the area. In April 1863 Captain Peter Hedlund (Hedland) in the Mystery discovered Mangrove Harbour (later named Port Hedland) and Tien Tsin Harbour (later named Port Walcott), and the township of Tien Tsin (which was renamed Cossack in 1873).

The Mystery and the Tien Tsin brought settlers and stock, and established the first European settlement in the northwest on the banks of the Harding River, inland from Tien Tsin Harbour[4]

Port and Cargoes[edit]

The Iron ore cargo loading facility is operated by Robe River Mining Company[5] (owned by the Rio Tinto Group). The terminals at Port Walcott (Cape Lambert), East Intercourse island and Parker point (at Dampier) are together operated by the same Authority.

The port itself is an open water port and the Cape Lambert wharf is exposed to strong cross currents due up to over 5 metres of tidal movement. Six RA Star 3200 tugs are used by the facility to assist vessels in berthing and unberthing operations.[6]

The terminal consists of

  • 4 berths
  • 4 ship loaders
  • 2 car dumpers
  • 4 million tonnes of live stockpile capacity

This has been expanded in the recent years to a capacity of 80 mtpa[7]

In 2010, as part of its expansion plans, the $ 276 Billion Port B project was awarded to John Holland. The project was completed in 2012, and involved the construction of a new 920 metre jetty and a two berth wharf, new shiploading facilities and associated piping works.[8]

While often associated with the facility at Cape Lambert, the port is referred to in shipping circles and official shipping documents as Port Walcott. While the names of Cape Lambert and Port Walcott are often used interchangeably, the official name of the port is "Port Walcott" and the wharf within is often referred to as "Cape Lambert wharf"[9]

Other information[edit]

  • Local magnetic anomalies are reported northward of Cape Lambert, in the approaches to Port Walcott[10]
  • The Norwegian-owned iron barque Solveig carrying jarrah piles for the Point Samson jetty was anchored in Port Walcott when it was wrecked during a cyclone in 1907[11] The Department of Maritime Archaeology lists 14 such shipwrecks in the vicinity, lost between 1868 and 1970.
  • The bulk carrier "Hanjin Port Walcott"was named after Port Walcott.[12]


  1. ^ of Western Australia, The State Government (2012). Ports Handbook - Western Australia. Department of Transport. p. 34. 
  2. ^ "FAQ about Port Walcott, WA". bonzle.com. 
  3. ^ Anketell Port Development - Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) desktop analysis. Australia: Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum. 2011. p. 3. 
  4. ^ McMarthy, M (1990). Charles Edward Broadhurst (1826–1905): a remarkable nineteenth century failure. Murdoch University. pp. 30–49. 
  5. ^ "Operations and financial report". Robe River Iron Associates. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Allan, Robert (10 May 2013). "Australia: Pilbara Apollo Escort Tug Joins Rio Tinto’s Fleet". World Maritime News. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Media Visit 2008 Information Pack". 2008. Rio Tinto Marine. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Wade, Jamie (27 September 2010). "John Holland awarded $276m contract with Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert Port B Project". Projectory. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  9. ^ /Rio Tinto Marine Operations Port Requirements. Rio Tinto Iron Ore. March 2009. p. 4. 
  10. ^ Australia Pilot. HMSO. 1959. p. 31. 
  11. ^ S, Sledge (1978). Wreck Inspection North Coast (WINC) expedition 1978: report of investigation of shipwreck and historic sites along the north and northwest coasts of Western Australia, June-September 1978. Western Australian Museum: Department of Maritime Archaeology, No. 11. p. 17. 
  12. ^ "Hanjin - Bulk Vessel Fleet". Retrieved 22 August 2013. 

External links[edit]

  1. Rio Tinto Iron Ore website
  2. Department of Transport - Western Australia - Website
  3. Rio Tinto Marine - Website

Coordinates: 20°39′12″S 117°12′00″E / 20.65336°S 117.19988°E / -20.65336; 117.19988