History and Culture around Karratha
Karratha and the West Pilbara Coast of WA have a fascinating Aboriginal history and cultural heritage. Home to the Ngarluma and Yinidbarndi people for many generations, the locals acknowledge them as the region’s traditional landowners. Millstream-Chichester National Park, the Jaburara Heritage Trail, Deep Gorge and the Burrup Peninsula are fascinating places to discover the Aboriginal history of Karratha and WA’s West Pilbara Coast. Over 40,000 rock engravings (petroglyphs) can be viewed in the region, many of which are located on the Burrup Peninsula.
Despite their tragic past, the Aboriginal people of Karratha and WA’s West Pilbara Coast are re-establishing their cultural and traditional links and building a positive future for their people.
Europeans first encountered the Pilbara area in 1628, when a vessel in the command of Captain De Witt ran aground near Cape Thouin on route to the Dutch East Indies. After a cursory inspection of the coast he gave it a name of De Witt Land. In 1699, William Dampier sailed into the Dampier Archipelago aboard his ship ‘The Roebuck’, landing on Enderby Island. From this first landing, the islands have had a very interesting past, including the establishment of a sheep farm on West Lewis Island to supply fresh meat, to a whaling station on Malus Island – both ventures now abandoned and in ruins.
Where to find History and Culture
Murujuga Rock Art & Cultural Experience
The Traditional Owner groups of the Burrup Peninsula and surrounding areas are pleased to showcase their culture and extensive Rock Art petroglyphs. Traditional custodian guides will give you the opportunity to experience not just the ancient Rock carvings but also their stories and explain how they lived in harmony with the land through their bush tucker and medicine interpretation.
Ngurrangga Tours is a fully Aboriginal owned and operated tourism company delivering high quality tours to the coastal and inland areas of the Pilbara, specifically within the Ngarluma and Yinjibarndi traditional country.
Cossack, nestled at the mouth of the Harding River on the West Pilbara Coast, has experienced a somewhat chequered past.
Cossack was originally established as the North West’s main shipping port and named ‘Tien Tsin’, after the boat which carried the first settlers to the region in 1863. The township was then renamed Cossack in 1871 after the warship that visited carrying the state’s Governor, Frederick Weld.
Today, many fine stone buildings have been fully restored to provide informative and memorable insights into the town’s wild and fascinating history.
The Ganalili Centre is the newest Indigenous cultural centre in Roebourne. Located in the old Victoria Hotel, the oldest two storey building in the Pilbara, the centre is open from 9am – 5pm daily.
The Ganalili centre takes its name from the Yindjibarndi word meaning the light in the morning before the sun comes over the horizon, and provides a culturally significant location for the whole community.
The centre features Yindjibarndi art, artefacts and cultural information, as well as the Yindjibarndi shop selling postcards and Pilbara landscape photos. It is a hub for learning with touch tables, meeting rooms, the Roebourne library, and free public computers and Wi-Fi.
Located on the main street in Roebourne, stop in and enjoy a free tea or coffee or if you are just driving through, pull in and fill your caravan or camper with fresh water!
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