Published: June 4th 2012May 22nd 2012
In 1863 Peter Hedland, Master of the 16 ton cutter Mystery
landed at Mangrove Harbour, now Port Hedland. An Iron Ore boom that began in the early 1960’s saw the town grow at a remarkable rate. Major expansion of Port Hedland took place in 1965 with the population exploding from a mere 1200 people to todays 15,000. Port Hedland handles the largest tonnage of any Australian Port with over 158 million tonnes of ore worth billions of dollars shipped each year. The 2.6 KLm long trains operated by BHP that carry the ore to the wharf areas are hard to miss. Salt product is another major industry with about 2 million tonnes exported each year. For you train buffs out there, (Malcolm), BHP set a record with the world’s longest train some years ago comprising 8 locomotives pulling 682 ore carts with a total train length of 7.353 Klms, that is big!
Port Hedland is actually in three parts, the Port which is self-explanatory, Wedgefield, an industrial area, and South Hedland. South Hedland is about 20klm inland and came about because of a lack of suitable building land in the late 60’s for
Can you imagine these rivers in the wet season
housing. Sth Hedland now caters for over half the population of the town and can be expanded to service a population of 40,000 (probably on the cards the way they are digging up this place!).
We were told not to expect much by many travellers when we said we were going into Port Hedland and in fact know of plenty that just drove past, what a mistake that would have been, we found it interesting with some great old buildings and a place that you could explore easily for a couple of days, particularly if you are interested in mining of any form.
Travel Note: Stone fish inhabit this stretch of coast so strong shoes should be worn when walking on rocky areas of the coast, another joy of the outback!
There are more photos below