Built in 1965-6 by Hamersley Iron (gazetted in 1972) and named after William Dampier
who sailed past the coast in 1699, Dampier has been described in other publications as having palm fringed beaches and pleasant greenness. While there are some palms dotted along the coast and
there is some green amid the arid red boulders that surround the town, it would not be fair to give the impression of a tropical paradise. Dampier's coast has a stark bleak beauty and although
we found the town more attractive than Karratha it is a long way from paradise.
Dampier is a port used to export iron ore and is 20 Kms from Karratha which is the main town in this region. It is one of the largest tonnage ports in Australia. If you are passing Karratha and are
thinking of bypassing Dampier, I would suggest you take the time to drive the extra 20km. Dampier is far more attractive than Karratha and there is a nice grassed picnic area planted with
The Nearby Burrup Peninsular is actually an island (originally called Dampier Island) which was connected to the mainland by a causeway which stretches across what were once tidal mudflats.
The huge Woodside complex is located on the peninsular and a visitor's centre offers an insight into the development of this project. Nearby at Hearson's Cove you seem a million miles away
from the industrial complex and the busy port.
This is by far one of the most interesting areas in the Pilbara with the twin towns of Dampier / Karratha and then
Roebourne, Wickham, Point Samson. and the Robe River Iron export facility all within a few minutes drive
of each other.
Among the rocks of the Dampier Archipelago is the world's largest art gallery. The rock engravings (done by the Aboriginal people) date back to the last ice age making some of them about
10,000 years old. Estimates put the number of engravings in the area as high as a one million.
Development has meant that many of these carvings have already been lost (one source says 25% are already gone) and future development will almost certainly see more destroyed.
The rock are precinct, as it has become known, is the first site in Australia that the World Monument Fund has listed as a 'most endangered site'. It remains to be seen whether money or
culture are more important to Australia in the long term.
The National Trust had the following to say about the site:
'Heritage consultants investigate and make recommendations on specific projects in a vacuum without a comprehensive understanding of the values of the area as a whole. As a result, the
outstanding heritage values of the area continue to be compromised by short-term industrial imperatives. Sites are physically destroyed by construction, eroded or polluted by industrial
emissions, damaged deliberately or accidentally by visitors as population grows and road access develops. Some sites survive, but in a radically transformed and unsympathetic landscape.'
Dampier was named after the English explorer William Dampier
who explored the coast in 1699.
The area that now houses the town and much of the industrial complex was originally an island but a causeway was constructed in 1963. Originally called Dampier Island, the names
was changed the Burrup Peninula in memory of
Henry Burrup, one of two men murdered in Roebourne
at the Union Bank.
The town of Dampier was constructed in 1965 but space quickly ran out due to the rugged nature of the land and a new town was developed at Karratha.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Red Dog, as he came to be known started his life with the name 'Tally Ho' which in typical Australian style was quickly shortened to just Tally.
He started out in Paraburdoo and was born sometime in 1971. The family who originally owned him moved to Dampier and it was here the the legend of Red Dog really started.
Until reaching Dampier Red Dog was just another Kelpie, Cattle Dog cross. He showed signs of his wanderlust early in life but once he reached Dampier his travels really
started to reach epic proportions.
Red Dog took to travelling on the local buses. He made friends with one of the local bus drivers but was said to have become very distraught when the driver was later killed
in a vehicle accident. Some say the Red Dog spent the rest of his days looking for his lost friend.
How many of Red Dogs antics are folk lore and how many actually happened we will probably never know but it is said that he would board a vehicle and refuse to get off until
it took him exactly where he wanted to go.
His eating habits were less than savory causing him to break smelly wind regularly. In the enclosed confines of various vehicles this must have been a testing time for the
Red haired people in Australia are often called 'Blue' and so it was that Red Dog also picked up the nickname 'Blue'. It was at Dampier Salt that he got this name and it was
this location that he chose to make his home base.
Red Dog was adopted by the workforce at Dampier Salt and they saw to it he was correctly registered with the local council and they tended his wounds after his numerous
fights and scrapes.
Not everyone was a fan of Red Dog and on one occasion he was found with two bullet wounds in a back leg. He was taken all the way to Port Hedland for treatment and the trip
eventually cost quite a sizeable sum.
His travels are said to have taken him as far afield as Perth and Sandfire but in 1979 his journey came to an end when
he picked up a poison bait and eventually had to be humanely put to sleep.
A memorial was erected to the memory of Red Dog and his statue still stands today on a hill overlooking the town.
Red Dog not only has the memorial in Dampier to remind us of his travels but in 2011 the movie 'Red Dog' was released to celebrate one of the Pilbara's most memorable and
Red Dog memorial, Beach, Hearson's Cove, Dampier Peninsula, Woodside visitor centre.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : North West
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6713
Local Government : City of Karratha
Click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.