HEMA Map reference 78/E4


20 40' 41" S 117 11' 06" E



Where is this?





Km from Perth





304mm (336)

Max Temp


Min Temp







Caravan Park


See Point Samson




See Karratha




Settler's Beach, Cemetery, Museum, Historic buildings.


Buildings of note


All of them.


Calendar Of Events


August: Cossack Art prize.



Galbtaith Store Cossack

Court house








Bond Store




Cossack is located on the mouth of the Harding River near Roebourne. It was originally known as Tien Tsin Harbour which was first established in 1863. The current name was declared in 1872 after Governor Weld's visit earlier that year aboard HMS Cossack.


The first name originated from one of Walter Padbury's ships which was used to deliver supplies to miners and settlers.


A causeway was constructed between this coastal port and the larger inland town of Roebourne in 1870 but flooding regularly destroyed large sections of it. By 1887 it had been turned into a tramway with a horse drawn tram.

It was the first port in the north west and as such earned much of it's early living from the pearling industry that first began in 1864. The old town once boasted a Chinese bakery, two Chinese stores, a Japanese store, Singhalese tailor and even a Turkish bath house.

Although the remaining buildings suggest a rather well established town an early visitor described it in the following way:

'With the exception of three good-sized buildings, all of the inevitable galvanised'iron types, and a cluster of disreputable shanties made chiefly of empty beer-cases and flattened kerosene cans, I saw nothing to warrant the name of a town. 'Heavens!' said I to myself, 'this surely can't be Cossack!'

Ships called in at Cossack to deliver supplies for the stations and the emerging town of
Roebourne. They returned south with wool, pearl shell and other commodities as well as passengers heading back to 'civilisation' for a holiday or to conduct business.

During cyclone season these trips were hazardous indeed but when the ship Emma vanished during calm weather on its way back to
Fremantle, many families in the north west lost loved ones or friends. The lost cargo also brought financial hardship to many but the loss of life touched most the people living in the Pilbara.

The reason for the sinking and the whereabouts of the wreck remained a mystery for 10 years but eventually it was discovered lying on a reef not far from Point Cloates.

The loss of everyone on board puzzled people as the ship had not gone down in rough weather and it would have been possible for survivors to swim to shore. It was likely that the ship struck the reef at night and apart from drowning, any survivors would have had to face numerous tiger sharks that are most active at night.

There was even information that those who had reached the shore were attacked, killed and eaten by a tribe of cannibalistic Aborigines that were known to live on the North West Cape. There may have been some truth in this as the Cape remains to this day a place of evil to the Aborigines and few venture there.

Alexander Forrest tried to have a new port established at Port Robinson (behind Dixon Island ) and he surveyed a town site at Cleaverville (named in honour of the Governor Sir William Cleaver Francis Robinson). This was rejected by the residents of Cossack who had already established themselves and even when Cossack was eventually abandoned, the new site was never taken up. Today Cleaverville is a town (of sorts) for 4 months of the year when visitors from the south camp there to avoid the rigours of the southern winter.

In 1913 a lazaret (leprosarium) was established on the opposite bank of the Harding River and it remained in operation until 1931 when it was transferred to Darwin.

The port began to silt up in the early 1900s, many buildings including the Weld Hotel, were demolished after World War Two and it was abandoned in the 1950s. Reconstruction began in 1979 (the project was completed in 1991) and today it is a historic tourist development.

Of all the buildings that remain it is the court house that really stands out. This is the image you will see in most tourist publications. It was constructed for the sum of 2058 pounds and was designed by
George T. Poole. Today it houses a small collection of artefacts and it is one of the most interesting buildings in the Pilbara.

Cossack has only a few of the original buildings (made of local bluestone) left, however, the setting on the river and nearby Settler's Beach make the trip a few kilometres in from highway one worth while. There are few facilities at Cossack except for a backpacker's hostel and caf' Fishing and crabbing from the old wharf can produce bream, catfish, mangrove jack and mud crabs.

Jarman Island.

Just off the coast at Cossack is
Jarman Island named after Captain J.T. Jarman of the barque Tien Tsin.

The lighthouse on the island was pre-fabricated in Birmingham (England) and was shipped to the Island via Fremantle.

The first lighthouse keeper (S. Efford) was appointed in 1888 and the ruins of the keepers quarters can still be seen on the island.

The light operated until May 1985 when it fell into disrepair. A restoration project was begun in 2003 and completed in 2005. It is hoped that a similar project will be undertaken to restore the keepers quarters.


Tall tales and true: The ship comes Inn


A cyclone in 1866 drove the ship New Perseverance high up on to the land. An enterprising local (Augustus Seubert) decided not to let the hull go to waste and cut holes in the side and opened The Ship's Inn, the first pub in town.



The old town







I'm lost please take me home...

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