Learn About The Pilbara Region

Interesting facts / history of economic drivers


  • Karratha is the service centre of the City of Karratha a thriving region encompassing the historical towns of Dampier, Roebourne, Cossack, Wickham and Point Samson.
  • The bustling region is home to the biggest mining operations in our nation, producing large quantities of salt, iron ore, copper, fertilisers and natural gas. Close to Karratha is Dampier Port, a major export harbor shipping globally.
  • The economy is now changing and diversifying, with an interest in boosting tourism and pastoral industries.
  • Despite servicing the iron ore industry for more than 45 years, our region has a rich history of economic drivers, stemming from the pastoral industry at settlement in the 1860s.
  • The abandoned town of Cossack was where the Shire of Roebourne’s economic prosperity began.
  • Originally named Tsien Tsin, Cossack was officially declared a town in 1872.
  • Cossack featured the region’s first port and supported the fast-growing pearling industry.
  • The Pilbara gold rush coincided with the growth of the pearling industry and by the early 1870s, up to 80 luggers were operating in the area. 
  • Cossack grew for around 40 years before its rapid decline when no longer suitable as a harbour and shipping movements were relocated to Point Samson.
  • The current estimate for the Gross Regional Product for the City of Karratha is at $7.136 Billion Dollars.
  • View the Economy Profile HERE

The Pilbara covers an area of 645,000 square kilometres, incorporating pastoral and mining communities together with coastal communities that have strong fishing and tourism industries.

There are three distinct geographic zones- the eastern desert area, the inland uplands of the Hamersley and Chichester Ranges and the western coastal sand plain where the majority of the population of approximately 60,000 people live.

The main population centres of the Pilbara include Port Hedland, Karratha and Newman, with smaller communities located at Onslow, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Marble Bar, Roebourne, Wickham and Dampier.

Local government areas include the Town of Port Hedland and the Shires of Ashburton, Roebourne and East Pilbara.

Among the Pilbara’s most popular natural attractions are the Karijini and Millstream/Chichester national parks, while the broader area has become a cultural haven well known for its Aboriginal rock art.

The largest hospitals are situated at Karratha and Port Hedland. 

From the City of Karratha:

The City of Karratha and the WA Government have launched exciting new plans to transform Karratha into a world-class City of the North.
From a new-look town centre to waterfront developments and new residential lots the bold blueprint paths the way for Karratha to become a major Australian city with more than 50,000 local residents.

The Karratha City of the North Plan has been at the drawing board since late 2009 and involved a team of more than 20 of WA’s best and brightest urban designers, planners and landscape architect.
The plan takes the region one step closer to “realising the dream” of achieving the WA Government’s Pilbara Cities vision. The Karratha City of the North Plan endows the region with vastly improved infrastructure and amenity and offers more affordable and diverse styles of housing.
The Karratha City of the North Plan is a three-phase strategy that will guide the development of future housing, open spaces, commercial activities, tourist accommodation, entertainment and retail areas as well as service infrastructure, transport, education and community facilities.

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