If you are planning on moving to Port Hedland, or wondering what all the fuss is about living there, here’s an update:
According to the 2011 census the locality of Port Hedland has the following statistics:
- Number of private dwellings 6,015
- Number of unoccupied dwellings on census day 17.7%
- Median weekly household income $2,809
- Median monthly mortgage payments $2,600
- Number of dwellings owner-occupied 28%
- Number of dwellings rented or other 72%
- Households where mortgage payments are 30% or greater 14%.
This data shows that currently less that 30% of Port Hedland homes are owner-occupied.
With the median house price of $1.18million as at Dec 2012, it isn’t any wonder that more people living in town don’t own their own home.
Soon the majority of the town will be made up of employees who live in employer-sponsored housing. Port Hedland has a housing crisis which is stopping small business and services from flourishing.
When buying a home in the Pilbara, the numbers just don’t stack up. The median price is $1.18million. Add to that stamp duty of $51,885.
The minimum deposit is 5% plus fees. A family would need to find cash of around $112,000 and borrow up to a $1.1million to move in. Loan repayments would start at $7000 per month at 6.4% per annum. To borrow at these levels a couple must have employment earnings of $85,000 each.
Having debt of more than three times income leads to financial stress and health issues. High debt levels and financial burdens are well known causes of mental health problems. The link to mental health problems and cost of housing is one of the key reasons why more housing options with different price points are essential for the community to thrive.
The other option is renting at $1,900 per week. Unless big business provides subsidies or housing, a family’s income would need to be more than $290,000 per year, which is probably beyond the tipping point for most small business owners and service workers.
Low income earners have no hope of keeping their public housing. If a family of four’s income goes above $1,320 per week, they have 2 years to find a private rental of $400 per week. That’s impossible at the moment.
This housing crisis did not happen overnight. It is the result of successive state government’s inaction to release sufficient land to meet the needs of business since 1997.
Let’s hope that house prices and rents have reached a tipping point, and more land becomes available to solve the housing crisis.
 Commonwealth Bank, How much can I borrow calculator, February 2013.
 Elly Robinson and Rennell Adams, Housing stress and the mental health and wellbeing of families, AFR Briefing No.12 2008
 ABS census 2011 – no more than 30% spent on housing or loan repayments
Port Hedland regularly sets records either for house prices or for iron ore exports. Last month the price of iron ore fell suddenly to $86.70. In the same month a shipment of iron reached another record with 248,366 tonnes of iron ore loaded on to one ship by BHP.
But according to a report in the West Australian newspaper, “Port Hedland authorities have reported a 9.5 per cent fall in iron ore shipments to China.
Iron ore demand, a key indicator of industrial activity in China, fell by 9.5 per cent in September from the previous month to be flat on the year, port authority data showed.
September shipments to China dipped to 15.13 million tonnes, down from 16.72 million tonnes in August, according to the Port Hedland Port Authority.“
Iron ore prices currently trade at just above $100t. Is this the tipping point of the boom-bust cycle for Port Hedland? If the resting price of iron ore is around $100, what will be the resting price for houses in Port Hedland?
Is Port Hedland Now too expensive to live, work and retire in?
According to Port Hedland’s Pilbara Port City Growth Plan, its aims for Port Hedland is to be “a nationally significant, friendly, City, where people want to live and proud to call home”. It also provides a “high level strategic blueprint to facilitate the sustained growth of Port Hedland… with a population of 50,000 people”.
Unfortunately these aims have fallen at the first hurdle – namely affordability and diveresity. Ref: http://www.porthedland.wa.gov.au/CouncilInitiative/pilbaras-port-city-growth-plan/ppc-growth-plan-second-draft/
The front page of the North West Telegraph, 6 June 2012, tells the story of “once profitable [Port] Hedland small businesses are closing their doors at an alarming rate, crippled by skyrocketing rents and wages”.
The list of small business closures go on:
- Bright Eyes
- Sunwonder Health Foods
- Frogs Gelato
- Zagnits Clothing Co
- Noa’s Ark
- Studio Armani (closing next week)
- Port Boutique (closing down sale now on)
For Port Hedland to be city with 50,000 people, it must offer affordability for small business and retirees, and a diversity of employment and accommodation pricing.
The Growth Plan offers 5 core themes relating to economic growth, communities, housing, environment and infrastructure. These themes offer nothing new, nothing that is going to directly address the loss of locals from Port Hedland who cannot afford to live, work and retire unless they work in mining or provide a direct service to mining.
Port Hedland’s history since 1896 is not built on mining, it’s built on local families offering a diverse range of services and industries. Mining came afterwards and it complemented the town’s business offerings.
Port Hedland’s residents were so confident in the 1960s that mining would not dominate the town as a sole employment offering, that they agreed to a deal by the State Govt. where mining companies would not pay rates to the Council for the land they occupied. This is still the case today even though the pool of ratepayers is diminishing rapidly, leaving just the hardy souls to fork out more for rate increases.
People working in mining earning a compressed lifetime of income from 12 hour shift work would appreciate diversity and options for their hard earned hours. Port Hedland Now has less and less to offer with eight family owned businesses closing down, and more and more options to fly-in and fly-out. The employment ads by the mining companies confirms their preference for FIFO to keep the costs down and the employees happy with options.
The PPC Growth Plan to fill Port Hedland with 50,000 people falls at the first hurdle. It fails to offer any solutions to affordability and diversity, and it ignores the local families who can deliver services and industries as the primary driver for a vibrant city. Mining should complement the town, not dominate it.
According to an interview with the ABC Breakfast radio, Darryl Brown lives on a piece of Port Hedland’s paradise. His home is 100 years old and has withstood many a cyclone.
BHP want to ship iron ore even faster from Port Hedland and the homes along the foreshore are standing in its way to build a tug pen. The tug pen development will require demolition of the fishing reef and a huge sea wall which could flood the homes located on Richardson Street (Ref. NWT, p. 1).
According to Mickey Dann “all that area from where Richardson butchers shop was, and up to where Darryl’s place is, I always knew was a place the people used to camp after fishing. Also I would like to ask anyone out there who knows that you can’t build or erect any shelter over any water stream. All along from the where the park is, there is fresh water. I remember a water tank with a windmill was built not far from Daryl’s place. This water was used after they stopped carting from the Degrey River. I feel that BHP has gone too far, and something has to be done about them.”
The story is getting more exposure at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/12963749/locals-stall-miner-s-port-hedland-harbour-plan/
This recipe was found in a booklet compiled by the Students of Hedland College, Office & Secretarial Studies Course (1982 full-time class). It is a collection of tried and reliable recipes “to help the housewife” with some recipes for “outback” cooks with the use of a camp oven. The Country Women of the Pilbara collaborated to select the best recipes at the time.
Here’s one from Mrs Joy Haynes, circa 1982. Enjoy.
There is a wonderful tribute to Mrs Joy Haynes in this week’s North West Telegraph. Mrs Haynes as she was known to me, lived on Moore Street as did our family. During the heady days of the 1970’s there were four Councillors who resided on Moore Street. There was Mrs Haynes’ husband Jack, my father Colin Matheson, Arnold Carter who is still a Councillor living on Moore Street, and Ike Holbrow. Between them they had more than 20 children.
It was with great fondness that I read the article about Mrs Haynes which captured part of the many joys of living and growing up in Port Hedland. Here are some of the quotes from the article:
Joyce Blance O’Brien was born on 6 April 1922. She joined the Air Force as an instrument mechanic during WWII. In 1946 Joy married Jack Haynes who she had knowned since her childhood. They moved to Port Hedland in 1963. She made the most of Port Hedland’s opportunities being a charter member of Soroptimist International of Port Hedland, an original committee member of the Hedland Tourist Bureau, local business owner and town socialite. She was referred to as “a pillar of the Hedland community”.
Mrs Haynes ran the kiosk at the Port Hedland swimming pool for six years in the 1970s. One of my favourite foods from the kiosk was her roast chicken. She also had a handcraft company which evolved from tiny beginnings in the Richardson Forum to larger premises at Hedland Arcade.
Mrs Haynes called Port Hedland “paradise” and defended it as the best place to be.
Joyce Blance O’Brien passed away on 30 December 2011. RIP.
The Port Hedland Historical Society is organising a tribute weekend for the loss of the ship known as the SS Koombana that went down on 20 March 1912. The tribute weekend will be on 17 and 18 March 2012 in Port Hedland.
The 3668 tone steamship went down 100 years ago with an estimated 138 passengers and 20 crew. It is believed there were no survivors. Only two lifeboats and a cabin door were recovered. The steamship was on a trip from Port Hedland to Broome.
Some of the descendants of those lost are planning to make the trip to Port Hedland for the centenary anniversary weekend. There will be activities including a Captain’s Table dinner offering a three course dinner and the chance to hear from two of the Koombana’s chief researchers Annie Boyd and Kerry Thom.
Entertainment will include music from a scratch band and toasting the lost souls of the Koombana.
All members of the community are invited to attend. (Ref NWT 8 Feb 2012, p. 10)
For more information contact Julie Hunt, Vice President of Port Hedland Historical Society, on 9173 2739.
The annual Port Hedland reunion is on again this year in Kings Park. It starts at 10am.
Bring a picnic lunch with you. Catch up with friends, and meet new ones.
Tshirts from the HSHS 40 year reunion will be on sale which includes a Pilbara friendship ring and HSHS lanyard.
The long weekend for Port Hedland was celebrated with a 40 year history
reunion of Hedland Senior High School students from the decades of the 1970s,
1980s, 1990s and 2000s. The weekend of events were planned two years in advance
so that contact could be made with past students inviting them back to Port
Hedland. Local generosity was tremendous though support, sponsorship and
accommodation provided to help make the weekend affordable for those wishing to
attend. More than 40% of the attendees came back to Port Hedland for the event.
Past students came from all over Western Australia and as far away as New
Zealand. On Saturday Dalgety House was the meeting point and from there the
school bus took students on a bus tour of nostalgia hosted by Peter Starling,
our own HSHS sports legend, and a tour of the new Port Hedland generously
hosted by the Mayor, Kelly Howlett. Welcome drinks at Dalgety House were
generously donated by Geoff Stocker of Pilbara Logistics.
On Sunday afternoon the big reunion event at the high school attracted over
150 past and current students. Current teachers generously gave their time to
take students on tours of the high school and prepared the school library for
the main proceedings. A highlight of the afternoon was the musical performance
put on by the arts students, who kept the audience clapping for more. Back at
the library, students of the decades where challenged with a quiz of 20
questions with the winner from the 1970s decade, Jenny Ness, who was a winner
of a maths competition for the Junior Division in 1979.
The success of the reunion and 40 year history of HSHS will be captured in a
Story Book to be collated over the next 12 months using stories from students
and events that were significant in the history of the school. More details can
be found at www.porthedlandnow.com.au
and photos and collectibles can be copied at Dalgety House where the history
will be collated for the book.