'Forced to dive for pearls!'

Trip Start Aug 31, 2011
Trip End Nov 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Dampier Transit Camp
What I did
Cossack Heritage Trail

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, October 16, 2011


Cossack is a sad place to visit as it has been uninhabited since 1950's.  Destroyed by Cyclones this had been a pearl fishing area.

Around 1886 aboriginals from the surrounding areas were forced to dive for pearls regardless of their ability to swim, they were cruelly exploited and many drowned. 

The buildings in the town have been preserved for visitors and although the guide leaflet indicated there was a café where cream teas could be bought, everything was closed with no sign of activity.  There was also Backpacker’s accommodation available in Cossack.  There is lots of interesting information available at the site and makes for a very worthwhile visit.


Next we drove to the 'Roebourne Visitor Centre and Old Gaol Museum’.  We spent some time here as there was plenty of interest to see.  As you wander through the complex you can take your time to reflect on how life would have been as a prisoner inside the walls.  The iron bolts and rings on the interior walls still remain as a distressing reminder of how the Aboriginals were shackled at night.

                                                  In the court yard outside was an amazing display of Pilbara rock samples placed in a line against the perimeter fence.  There were about 40 different labelled specimens that were truly stunning.

Whilst at the visitor centre we applied for a certificate that would allow us to drive on the Tom Price Railway Road.  The certificates are only available from the Pannawonica Library or Visitor centres at:-

-        Tom Price

ˇ        Karratha

ˇ        Roebourne

There are penalties if you drive on the road without the certificate or fail to adhere to the safety rules.  We had to watch a Rio Tinto information video in the Roebourne visitor centre to enable us to obtain the free pass.  We were stopped on the road and politely asked for our pass certificate, so there are checks carried out.


 We stayed at the Dampier Transit Camp                     

which turned out to be pretty much as the name describes due to its proximity to the iron ore loading jetty nearby.  The site had clean toilet and shower facilities but the surrounding area was not very attractive.  There didn’t appear to be any other campsites.  This small town was dominated by the massive iron ore industry evidenced in the bay and the workers accommodation camp nearby.  We did not venture out to the islands where snorkelling and diving are available.  Prior to visiting Dampier we were told that it was a ‘pretty little place’ but this is not how we would describe it and apart from the

 beautiful Hearsons Cove with toilets, picnic and barbeque area and lovely shell beach, with accessible swimming; we wouldn’t hurry back to Dampier
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