Explore Cossack

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.


Cossack has a unique history. Officially established in 1872, it was the first port on the West Pilbara Coast. In 1866 a pearling industry was established in the town and at its peak, had 80 pearl luggers in operation. However, once the local area had been fished out, the pearlers moved further north to Broome. In 1887, a gold rush drew in thousands of fortune seekers to the Pilbara. The impressive growth of Cossack was spread over forty years, but its decline was more rapid. By 1900 the pearling fleet had all but gone, the gold rush had diminished and the port was no longer suitable as a harbour for the larger modern sailing vessels entering the region.

In 1904 a jetty was established at Point Samson and all shipping movements were relocated there. For a short while, Cossack was also home to a turtle soup factory and a leprosarium (leprosy treatment facility), however the municipality eventually dissolved in 1910 and the town was eventually abandoned by 1950 to be left in ruins.


Things to do

Getting to Cossack

From Karratha, drive east towards Roebourne for about 35 minutes, where you will meet the Cossack turn off.