Council history


Ancestors of the Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Martuthunia and Yaburara peoples have occupied the area now known as the City of Karratha for more than 30,000 years. The towns of Dampier, Roebourne, Point Samson, Cossack, Wickham and Karratha sit within these traditional lands. 

European settlement 

Francis Thomas Gregory led an expedition to the North West of WA in 1861. Returning to Perth, he reported the area was suitable for agricultural purposes and a possible pearling industry.  

The first European settlers landed at the town now called Cossack in 1863, and set about establishing pastoral stations. As the population and settlements grew into towns, other industries such as pearling, mining (gold, tin and lead) and fishing were established. 

Industry development 

As the iron ore industry began in the early 1960s, Dampier was chosen as the port for Hamersley Iron's operations, signalling the beginning of major development in the area. 

The main industries have not changed much since the 1900s – mining for iron ore, salt and gas; pastoralism and fishing. Tourism, our newest industry, is booming as local businesses and people proudly showcase the richly unique area and history. 


In 1871 the North Districts Road Board was formed and the Nickol Bay District was gazetted, defined as the area north of the Murchison River and east and west to the state boundary.  

In 1887 the District of Nickol Bay was abolished, Cossack was declared a Municipality and the Roebourne Road Board was formed as an administrative body for the area.  

In 1910, following the decline of Cossack as a port and centre for the pearling industry, the Municipality of Cossack was dissolved and amalgamated with the Roebourne Road Board. 

In 1961 the new Local Government Act proclaimed Roebourne Road Board the Shire of Roebourne. The centre of administration changed from Roebourne to Karratha in 1975, with Karratha officially recognised as the regional centre for local government administration. 

The Shire’s status changed to City of Karratha on 1 July 2014.  

Today, the City of Karratha covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres, and is home to 20,000 people. 


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