City of Karratha


The City boasts a comprehensive working local history collection containing maps, plans, documents, photographs, newspapers, ephemera and oral history recordings. These are housed at the Karratha Public Library.

Historical information

The local history collection is housed at the Karratha Public Library and in Cossack Museum. For more information on the history of this area contact the Local History Office on 08 9186 8660 or email
The area now known as the City of Karratha has been occupied by ancestors of the Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Martuthunia and Yaburara peoples for more than 30,000 years. The towns of Dampier, Roebourne, Point Samson, Cossack, Wickham and Karratha sit within these traditional lands.
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 what is 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.
With the beginning of the iron ore industry in the early 1960s, Dampier was chosen as the port for Hamersley Iron's operations and this signalled the beginning of major development in the area.
Today the City of Karratha covers an area of fifteen thousand square kilometres and has a population of twenty thousand. The main industries have not changed much since the 1900s – mining (iron ore, salt, gas); pastoralism and fishing. The newest industry tourism, is booming as local businesses and people proudly showcase their area and history.
Council History
In 1871 the North Districts Road Board was formed and the Nickol Bay District was gazetted, this being 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 as a 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 first of July, 2014 saw the Shire’s status changed to City of Karratha.
Historical Images
The Local History Archive contains an extensive collection of images. To use images within the collection, please fill in the Local History Image Application Form and return via or in person at Karratha Library. 
For Educators
For information about any of the education resources or to arrange an incursion or excursion contact or phone 9186 8660
These classroom resources are freely available for download by educators. The education packs have been designed for the WA HASS Curriculum but also aligns with the Australian National Curriculum.
Each educational package is based upon the historical town of Cossack, Western Australia and has activities linked to a photo, document, object or other authentic historical source from the City of Karratha Local History Collection.