Brief History of Dampier

Dampier is located on the north-west coast of Western Australia approximately 1555km from Perth.Dampier was built as a port town by the Hamersley Iron Company in the 1960's to export iron ore and salt. The town was named after the English explorer and sometime buccaneer, William Dampier, who discovered the north-west coast in 1688.

In 1952, Lang Hancock, a Pilbarra grazier, was flying his light aircraft over the Hamersley Range when low storm clouds rolled in. Forced to fly into the gorges, he noticed that the cliff walls were a rust colour. He was convinced that the walls were composed of iron ore. He made a note of the location and later returned to the area on foot. Sure enough his hunch was right, the walls of the gorges were almost solid iron ore.

It still wasn't all smooth sailing for Lang. He wasn't able to exploit his find because in 1938 the then Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, had placed a total ban on Australian iron ore exports because of increasing Japanese interest in the metal and the fear that there was limited reserves to supply Australia. This little obstacle wasn't resolved until 1961, when the Western Australian Government finally lifted the ban on iron ore exports.

In 1961 a company called Hamersley Iron was formed with three companies providing financial support: Rio Tinto (England), Kaiser Steel (U.S.A) and Consolidated Zinc. Interestingly one of the officials of Kaiser Steel would eventually have a mountain and town named after him. His name was Tom Price.Over one billion tonnes of iron ore were found in the mountain range. In 1972 Dampier was gazetted a townsite.Western Australia is now one of the leading iron producers in Australia with many companies now operating in the Pilbarra region. Iron comprises 4% of Australia's export.

Things You May Not Know About Dampier

The post code for Dampier is 6713.

Over 140 million tonnes of ore are loaded annually from the Hamersley Iron Port.

The Burrup Peninsula contains one of the world's largest collection of petroglyphs (the Murujuga) rock engravings dating back to the ice age, making it the world's largest art gallery! Unfortunately the Dampier Rock Art is under threat due to big industry pipeline projects.

Important Links To Dampier

Shire of Roebourne
Burrup Peninsula

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