Whim Creek, Western Australia
|Location||1,645 km (1,022 mi) from Perth|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Roebourne|
|State electorate(s)||North West|
Whim Creek is a small town in Western Australia.
Originally a post office known as "Whim Well", Whim Creek is on the North West Coastal Highway midway between Karratha and Port Hedland. It is 1,645 kilometres (1,022 mi) north of Perth and a stopover point for travellers to Broome.
Whim Creek Hotel
The original Whim Creek Hotel was a tin-roofed structure which was blown down in a cyclone in the 1890s. The hotel was resurrected, and has been blown down twice since; in the mid-20th century and in the 1990s.
The current Whim Creek Hotel was erected in the early 20th century. The original building frame, made of steel, was originally intended to be the frame for the Marble Bar Courthouse. The frame and materials were landed at the Balla Balla Creek jetty, ready for transport inland to Marble Bar, but the effort was stranded by a large cyclone. The building was erected at its current site on the banks of Whim Creek, where the steel frame has stood ever since. The wooden facade has, however, been blown off twice.
On April 2 to April 3, 1899, the town received 36.49 inches (927 mm) of rain in 48 hours, with 29.41 inches (747 mm) falling in a 24 hour period. Later the same year on March 22 to March 23 another 27 inches (686 mm) fell.
Whim Creek was renowned for its alcoholic camel which used to drink patrons' beers before being relocated to Wiluna, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, and a large python which used to live within the rafters above the bar.
Three brothers from the local Aboriginal community are commemorated for their war service via a mall memorial in the car park. They died in 1943 in the Papuan Campaign of World War II.
History of Mining
Copper has been mined on and off at Whim Creek over a period of 120 years. Copper was mined initially via a series of small adits and stopes into the Whim Creek and Mons Cupri deposits by artisanal miners, with records indicating that as early as 1882 small quantities of malachite, azurite, chrysocolla and other copper minerals were being won. Copper was shipped via a small port on the coast at the nearby town of Balla Balla. A single track narrow-gauge railway ran from Whim Creek to Balla Balla. At its peak, the town supported two hotels, a blacksmith, a police station and a horse track.
In the early 1900s a second period of mining began, with around 60,000 tonnes of copper concentrate produced mainly from the Whim Creek Mine. In the 1960s Japanese interests undertook a resource drilling program, with diamond core drilling, and built a small oxide mining operation. This shut down in the early 1970s.
The leases passed to Whim Creek Copper Limited, but the company found profit elsewhere, and the mining leases were passed through several owners until the mid-1990s when Straits Resources Limited took over the tenure.
Whim Creek Hotel currently serves as an accommodation village for the mine workers who work at the Whim Creek Copper Mine. Around 150 to 180 men and women live in demountable units (dongers), and share messing facilities at the Whim Creek Hotel. Several other mining and exploration camps located nearby also use the hotel and messing facilities, as few other facilities exist.
The Blackrock Stakes
The Blackrock Stakes is a 122 km race from Whim Creek to Port Hedland in which competitors, either in teams or as individuals, push a wheel barrows weighed down with iron ore. Like most good ideas, it was born over a few beers at a bar, in 1971 and what developed has raised more than $1 million for charity and caused grown men, women and children to lump a wheelbarrow full of iron ore from a remote mine site and into Port Hedland.
Teams of 10, trios, duos and lone runners now push modified wheelbarrows containing 11 kg of iron ore over the distance.