Pannawonica is a mining town developed by Robe River Iron. Its sister town of Wickham lies on the coast near Karratha. Iron ore is mined near
Pannawonica and transported to the Cape Lambert loading facility via a private railway. There are two mines in operation near the town, Mesa Jopened and Mesa A mine with a third mine (Warramboo)
Built to house the workforce and families of the nearby Robe River Iron mines, all company homes are air-conditioned and residents enjoy a relaxed casual lifestyle. The town has a well equipped Primary
School as well as a Day Care Centre and Playgroup. The Silver Chain Medical Centre has a visiting doctor and supports a holistic approach to the health of the community.
The town's facilities include a post office, supermarket, milk bar, tavern and hotel, bistro, police station, petrol station, sportsmen's club, bank agencies and a gym. The public swimming pool is a popular
spot during summer, as is the open air cinema that is free of charge.
Pannawonica is still considered a 'closed town' and facilities for visitors are limited and they cannot stay long term. Even so there is accommodation available with well appointed motel style units available
at the Tavern. For the budget conscious there is a powered, four bay Caravan Park with grassy, camping sites also available.
The sporting scene consists mainly of soccer, cricket, squash, touch rugby, speedway and pistol shooting.
Social highlight of the year includes the Gala Day and Ball, held every July and the Robe River Rodeo which was established in 1995 and is held in September.
The Rodeo is the only event of its kind in the Pilbara and is well supported by the local community and pastoral properties, with competitors and visitors coming from across the State
for this spectacular event. The Rodeo normally held in early September is a must see. Don't miss out. For information on this event contact the Pannawonica Police Station.
It has become a bit of a tradition for workers who are leaving jobs in the mines to throw their work boots up into a tree. These 'boot trees' with their 'fruit' can be seen around town.
For the adventurous, Pannawonica makes a good place to refuel and obtain supplies before heading east into the Millstream/Chichester National Park which is only 1.5 hours from
Pannawonica along the Millstream - Yarraloola road.
Note : The Millstream - Yarraloola road is unsuitable for busses, caravans, trailers or two wheel drive vehicles. It is recommended that the road only be travelled by well prepared four wheel drive vehicles
and that travellers notify the Pannawonica Police or the Millstream Ranger of their intention to travel.
(Some of the above information was provided to us by the Shire and is quoted verbatim).
Development of the town started in 1970 on land formerly part of Yalleen Station. The town was gazetted in 1972.
The name originates with nearby Pannawonica Hill. The name is of Aboriginal origin and is said to mean "the hill that came from the sea". See TALL TALES AND TRUE
for more on this.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
The Aboriginal Legend of Pannawonica Hill
Thousands of years ago Pannawonica was part of an island called Collanbogan located offshore near Mardie Station. Two tribes, the Anailya "mob" and the Boogada "mob", fought over this beautiful island
and the mainlanders, the Boogada, conspired to steal it for themselves. It was during a time when there were many ghosts around that the Boogada tribe made their crossing to ask the Anailya if they may
have Pannawonica. The islanders were, however, unwilling to part with their pride and joy. So the other tribe waited until their enemy went fishing and crept out to Collanbogan and stole the hill away.
No one is sure how they carried the mountain from the island to its present resting place, but according to legend its track left a scar across the landscape known today as the Pannawonica track.
Somewhere along its length a gap was made when the tribe forced it through the hillside.
Once the hill had been stolen it was finally delivered to its resting place high above the Robe River and was used over the years to shelter and protect the tribe who had made it their own. The
Boogada found themselves occasionally defending the hill and when the enemy was sighted they made their way to the top. And that, according to Aboriginal legend, is how Pannawonica got its
local landmark, Pannawonica Hill.
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(c) James Wood
Robe River, Aboriginal Rock Art.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : North West Central
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6716
Local Government : Shire of Ashburton
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