Pilbara historical timeline

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This timeline is a selected list of events and locations of the development of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Date Event Location Notes
1818 Captain Phillip Parker King surveyed the coastline, naming the Intercourse Islands and Nickol Bay Dampier
1861 Francis Thomas Gregory and his party explore the Nickol Bay area, naming Port Walcott, the Hardey River, the De Grey River and the Fortescue River
April 1863 Captain Peter Hedland discovers Mangrove Harbour (Port Hedland) Port Hedland
May 1863 Tien Tsin Harbour and Cossack town site established Cossack
September 1863 Sherlock Station selected by John Wellard Sherlock Station
1864 Mount Welcome Station established by the Withnells Mount Welcome Station
1864 Cooya Pooya Station established by Thomas Lockyer Cooya Pooya
1865 Pyramid Station established by the Richardson Brothers for the Portland Squatting Company Pyramid Station
1866 Roebourne townsite and Port Walcott gazetted Roebourne
1869 Pardoo Station established as an outstation of De Grey Station Pardoo Station
1872 Copper discovered west of Whim Creek Whim Creek
1872 Mundabullangana Station established by the MacKays Mundabullangana
1872 Chirritta Station established by the Donald Norman McLeod. Chirritta
1878 Minderoo Station established by the Forrest brothers and Septimus Burt Minderoo
1878 Yarraloola Station established by the Woolhouses Yarraloola
1879 Croydon Station established by the Robinsons Croydon Station
1886 Yarrie Station established by Christopher Coppin Yarrie Station
1887 Gold discovered at Mallina, east of Whim Creek Mallina Station
1887 First tramway opened, 2’ gauge and horse drawn, between Cossack and Roebourne Roebourne
1890 Gold discovered, in Coongan River bed Marble Bar
1891 Emu Creek Station established Emu Creek Station
1893 Marble Bar town site gazetted
1893 Marronah Station established by J. H. Mansfield Maroonah
1894 Cyclone kills 45 people at sea Port Hedland
1896 Townsite of Port Hedland gazetted Port Hedland
1896 Warrawagine Station established. Warrawagine
1898 Cyclone causes £30,000 worth of damage to Cossack
1899 Townsite of Nullagine gazetted Nullagine
1905 Mining starts at Wodgina mine site south of Port Hedland
1906 Alfred Canning commences surveying Canning Stock Route
1909 Townsite of Point Samson gazetted Point Samson
1910 Canning Stock route completed droving of first cattle commences
July 1911 Railway opened connecting Port Hedland with Marble Bar Marble Bar Railway
1937 Asbestos mined at Yampire Gorge, near Wittenoom Wittenoom
1938 Government surveyors, Finucane and Telford, surveyed Mount Goldsworthy and reported the iron content of the ore at 65.66% with estimated reserves of more than 6,000,000 tons
1950 Townsite of Wittenoom gazetted Wittenoom
November 1952 Lang Hancock flies over the Pilbara region
December 1960 Australian Government changes restrictions on iron ore exports Australia wide
March 1961 Western Australian government announces that iron ore exploration permits will be allowed Western Australia
September 1962 CRA geologists identify Mount Tom Price deposits Mount Tom Price
1964 Oil was discovered in commercial quantities by West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd Barrow Island
January 1965 Dampier and Mount Tom Price - construction commences at locations
February 1965 Construction commences on the town of Goldsworthy Goldsworthy
June 1965 Dampier - Tom Price railway works commence Hamersley Iron
1966 Asbestos mine closed at Wittenoom Gorge Wittenoom
1966 Rio Tinto opens its first iron ore mine in the Pilbara Mount Tom Price mine
July 1966 Tom Price to Dampier - first fully loaded ore train
August 1966 Dampier - first shipment of ore loaded
1967 Iron ore discovered at Mount Whaleback Newman
May 1967 Hamersley Holdings Limited shares on the ASX
1968 BHP Billiton establishs an iron ore mine near Newman Mount Whaleback
August 1969 Development of community at Karratha begins
July 1970 East Intercourse Island connected by causeway
1971 Townsite of Wickham gazetted Wickham
1972 Cape Lambert port opened Cape Lambert
1972 Townsite of Newman gazetted Newman
1972 Townsite of Paraburdoo gazetted Paraburdoo
1972 Townsite of Pannawonica gazetted Pannawonica
1972 Dampier Salt commences operations Dampier
1974 North West Coastal Highway from Geraldton, Western Australia to Port Hedland completely sealed
December 1975 Cyclone Joan - flooding in Pilbara and damages Hamersley Rail
October 1977 Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Dampier and Karratha combined population passes 15,000
1978 Meektharra to Newman section of Great Northern Highway upgraded. Great Northern Highway
1981 WAPET discovers gas off the Pilbara coast with the drilling of the Gorgon 1 well Gorgon gas project
1984 North Rankin A Gas Platform commissioned North West Shelf
1989 Newman to Port Hedland section of Great Northern Highway upgraded. Great Northern Highway
1989 BHP Billiton opens iron ore mine near Newman Jimblebar mine
January 1990 Rio Tinto Group opens iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Channar mine
1992 Rio Tinto opens another iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Brockman 2 mine
December 1993 BHP Billiton opens another iron ore mine near Shay Gap Yarrie mine
1994 Rio Tinto opens another iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Marandoo mine
1995 Goodwyn A gas platform commissioned North West Shelf
2004 Rio Tinto opens another iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Eastern Range mine
2006 Indee Gold Mine opens at Mallina, east of Whim Creek and is closed in 2008 Mallina
2007 Rio Tinto opens another iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Hope Downs mine
March 2007 Wittenoom townsite officially abolished by gazettal Wittenoom
October 2007 Fortescue Metals Group begins mining iron ore in the Chichester Range Cloud Break mine
April 2008 First train runs on Fortescue railway Fortescue railway
June 2009 Fortescue Metals Group opens new iron ore mine in the Chichester Range Christmas Creek mine
September 2010 Rio Tinto opens another iron ore mine in Hamersley Range Brockman 4 mine

See also[edit]


  • Hamersley Iron (1985) Diary titled Hamersley Iron. The Pilbara Flora Collection 1984. The 18th Year of Hamersley Iron Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd Perth, WA.
  • Oakley, Glenda.(1992) More dates! : a Western Australian chronology 1930 to 1989 Northbridge, W.A. Friends of Battye Library occasional paper; no. 3 ISBN 0-646-10780-1
  • Trengrove, Alan (1976) Adventure in iron / Hamersley's First Decade Melbourne, Stockwell Press. ISBN 0-909316-03-1 (Hamersley Chronology on end-pages)