Roebourne is an old gold rush town in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. It is 202 km from Port Hedland and 1563 km from Perth, the state’s capital. It prospered during its gold boom of the late 19th century and was once the biggest settlement between Darwin and Perth.
By 1865, the population of the area had grown to about 200, and the Withnells’ property served as a local hub, with John Withnell opening a store and providing cartage services to the other settlers. Prior to the construction of a church in the area, services were held in their home. The Government Resident, Robert John Sholl (1819-1886), arrived in April 1866 from the failed Camden Harbour settlement (near Kuri Bay) to provide assistance in developing the region and set up camp near the Withnells’ home while trying to find a suitable townsite.
Currently Roebourne serves the passing highway traffic and tourism, especially as the gateway to many national parks in the interior. The town’s education needs are met by the Roebourne School (1905), a K-12 school serving about 250 Aboriginal students. Roebourne also contains a TAFE campus, library and telecentre, as well as a small hospital. Many other services are provided from Karratha, 40 km away.
The area is home to the Ngarluma people, but many Yindjibarndi and Banyjima people previously from outlying stations also live in the town. A centre for iron ore and other industries, Roebourne has retained its special character, with its historic buildings and history. Enjoy the sightseeing, the historical presence of the town and the excellent fishing.