Francis Logan

Francis Logan

Minister for Energy; Resources; Industry and Enterprise

    New life for historic ghost town

    9/10/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government is preparing to bring the historic ghost town of Cossack back to life.

    Cabinet has commissioned a master plan to identify what needs to be done to give new life and a sustainable future to the Pilbara town, 40km north of Karratha.

    Housing and Works Minister Francis Logan said the plan would be compiled by the Department of Housing and Works, in consultation with the Heritage Council and key stakeholders such as the Shire of Roebourne.

    Mr Logan, who is also Heritage Minister, said the decision to revive the town was bold and momentous.

    “I do not think any government in Australia has ever undertaken to bring a ghost town back to life,” he said.

    “But the Gallop Government has a clear vision for Cossack. We believe it can become a town where people want to live and to visit.

    “It could become the ‘Broome of the Pilbara’, with its fascinating history, interesting landscape and inviting coastline.”

    Cossack was established in 1863 at the mouth of the Harding River. It became a thriving community that serviced the pastoral and pearling industries, but was abandoned after World War II following unsuccessful attempts to revive the local pearling industry.

    “Today, as one of the Pilbara’s major tourist attractions, Cossack draws thousands of visitors who take pleasure in learning about how Western Australia’s remarkable pioneers lived in a bygone era,” Mr Logan said.

    “Cossack was a ruin for many decades but the Gallop Government is committed to the restoration of the old buildings, the provision of essential services, the release of a critical mass of residential land and the encouragement of tourism infrastructure.”

    Mr Logan said the master plan would consider all aspects of heritage and archaeological significance through regular contact with key stakeholders.

    “It will be a comprehensive report, with recommendations for necessary tourism infrastructure that could include a caravan/camping ground, caf�, small-scale motel accommodation, an Aboriginal cultural centre, general store and post office,” he said.

    “The master plan will recognise the importance of the town centre and make sure future development is compatible with existing buildings and be sensitive to the historical significance of the town.

    “It will also identify the designs and materials that should be used for any new buildings to ensure they are sympathetic to the heritage of the town.

    “The State Government believes that a balance of tourism, commercial and residential land development would provide a mix of activities and facilities for the enjoyment of permanent residents and the ever-increasing numbers of tourists visiting the historic precinct.

    “The Gallop Government is committed to enhancing Western Australia’s unique lifestyle.”

    Mr Logan said the plan would also consider the tourism potential of Jarman Island, which sat at the mouth of the Harding River.

    Cossack was originally known as Tien Tsin harbour but its name was changed in 1871 in honour of the ship which carried the WA Governor, Sir Frederick Weld, to the area.

    The townsite was officially declared in 1872 and by 1887 a horse-drawn tramway had connected the port with the nearby town of Roebourne.

    Pearl divers from Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia were first attracted to the area in 1866 and by the 1870s more than 80 boats were operating out of the port. The original Japanese cemetery is located at the far end of Perseverance Street.

    Mr Logan acknowledged the Shire of Roebourne for its management of the restoration work on Cossack’s striking stone buildings, the Bond Store, Court House and Old Telegraph Station.

    “The Roebourne Shire has done a commendable job with the funds available, but Cossack has languished for too long under the yoke of uncertainty,” the Minister said.

    “Cossack should be given another chance at a sustainable future built on tourism and residential land sales.”

    Minister's office: 9222 8950