Dampier is a major industrial port in the north-west of Western Australia. The Dampier Port is part of the Dampier Archipelago. The port services petrochemical, salt, iron ore and natural gas export industries.
Aboriginal people have lived in the area for many thousands of years. They include the Yaburrara and Ngarluma tribes. The town is named after the archipelago which in turn got its name from the English buccaneer William Dampier, who visited the area in 1699. As the expansion of Dampier reached a limit in the 1970s nearby Karratha was fully developed to cater for the overspill from Dampier.
The nearby Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula) which means ‘Hip Bone Sticking Out’ in the Ngarluma/Yaburrara language is home to what is believed to be the largest collection of petroglyphs (ancient rock art) in the world. There are 42 islands within the Dampier Archipelago. There is a hugely diverse marine ecosystem around these islands where the fauna includes whales, dugongs, turtles, coral and sponges. Green turtles, (Chelonia mydas) are also known to nest in the Dampier Archipelago. At the entrance to the town is a statue of “Red Dog”, a red kelpie/cattledog well known for roaming the area in the 1970s and hitching rides to nearby towns. The statue reads “Erected by the many friends made during his travels”.
The Dampier Salt Company is Australia’s largest single salt producer with over 9000 hectares of salt pans producing over 2.4 million tonnes of salt each year. The company was formed in 1967, started operations in 1971, and most of its workforce now live in Karratha.
Dampier is one of the largest ports in Australia. In 1989, 506 vessels were loaded with over 49 million tonnes of iron ore from the Hamersley mines at Tom Price and Paraburdoo, making it the largest tonnage port in Australia. It is possible to visit and inspect the port facilities and all of the industries.