Depuch Island

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Depuch Island is located in Western Australia
Depuch Island
Depuch Island
Location of Depuch Island

Depuch Island (or Warmalana) is a volcanic island located off the north-west coast of Western Australia's Pilbara region, near Port Hedland.

Aboriginal significance[edit]

The island was of cultural importance to the Ngaluma Aboriginal tribe, who called it Warmalana.[1] According to Ngaluma legend, the island was formed during the Dreaming when Matalga, a leading Pilbara spirit man, lifted a large rock and threw it into the sea. The rocks and boulders of the island are covered with Aboriginal engravings and rock art.[2]

European exploration[edit]

The island was charted in July 1801 by François-Michel Ronsard, the cartographer on a French expedition led by explorer Nicolas Baudin on board the ship Le Géographe. The island was named Ile Depuch after Louis Depuch, a mineralogist on Baudin's expedition. After a visit to the island, Ronsard established that it was volcanic, and was the first evidence of volcanic activity on the Australian continent the expedition had discovered.[3]

In 1912, a Norwegian steel sailing ship, the Crown of England, was shipwrecked as it lay anchored on the island loading copper ore, after the area was struck by a cyclone. Many other ships were sunk in the area, such as the passenger liner SS Koombana.[4] The newly built tug SS Wyola sailing for Fremantle was despatched to rescue the barque Concordia which was left grounded by the storm.[5]

Recent activity[edit]

The discovery of iron ore deposits in the Pilbara region during the early 1960s saw Depuch Island considered for use as a port for the mining facilities being established in the area. In 1962, however, a survey by the Western Australian Museum discovered thousands of Aboriginal engravings, and the port was moved to the Dampier Archipelago.[6]


  1. ^ Tindale, N.B.: Aboriginal Tribes of Australia – Ngaluma (WA), South Australian Museum, 1974.
  2. ^ Wilson, Colin (1996). The Atlas of Holy Places & Sacred Sites. New York: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7894-1051-6. 
  3. ^ Chart of Depuch Island, Freycinet Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
  4. ^ Wreck Finder – Koombana Archived August 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., Western Australian Museum, 2003.
  5. ^ "Engineer Torry Returning". Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 – 1954). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 12 October 1912. p. 2. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Archaeology and rock art in the Dampier Archipelago – Industrial development and archaeological investigation, National Trust of Australia.

Coordinates: 20°37′54″S 117°43′27″E / 20.63167°S 117.72417°E / -20.63167; 117.72417