When I got back from Broome last night, I sat and thought about “Hedlanders”. We have grown so much, and the site really only caters for us locals. I have come to recognise all Hedlanders as family. When you come to think about it, WE ARE. We share the same stories, the same feelings and we all believe in one thing, and that is we were raised in a unique town that we can call home, and it will always be our home till the day we die. Not many people in Australia can call a place our home. We may go away for a while, but the dust, flies and heat will always bring us back. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
At the moment there are not many fishing spots left because of some companies have blocked them. Let’s see, there was Paradise Island, 4 mile, at the back of Wedgefield, the wharf, etc… 4 mile maybe blocked of soon if they keep building towards the mangroves. The Gap was a beauty. This was directly across from the Boulevard shopping centre. Another was between Shell tanks and BHP. Now you have to go out of town to catch a good feed. Where BHP is now was all mangroves. It is built on dredge fill. Old mud bay was the main fishing spot for the locals. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
I’d go to six mile with dad & Jack “Shack”, stop a little way in and the Creole would be bare mud. Not to worry a big tide coming in just get the gear ready. You could hear it if your quiet, smell it even as the sea clear to meet the mangroves pushing a big head of frothy foam. If we had a good catch and we mostly always did we would stop at the big sandbar towards the mouth. There we would clean the catch and feed the pelicans. The sheer delight I hope you know, watching them big mouthed birds with not so big necks swallowing some of the fish heads that seemed way to big. We would laugh so hard I remember tears rolling down uncle jacks face. Priceless. (Colin Head, FB, Jan. 2012)
My mother and father arrived in Hedland with a bag of potatoes and a lack of money. Dad went fishing at the wharf and mum learnt to cook fish and potatoes in a million different ways. Always remember going down to the Salt wharf at night and watching them pull in kingies. Salmon run at Cemetery beach was good and prawning was always fun till you pulled in a baby shark or a few stonefish. Crabbing out at Finni and getting stuck in the mud was a good day out for us kids but for some reason mum had an issue about us coming in the house and made us wash under the hose. (Melinda Bastow, FB, Jan 2012)
Our house was on Morgans Street was built on stilts and we were just below the sand hill that the hospital was built on so always felt safe. Remember standing on the steps in the middle of Joan watching things being blown down Anderson Street with my dad taking photos and the rain going sideways. (Melinda Bastow, FB, Jan 2012)
I remember where they used to stack the wool bales when they trucked them in from the stations. This was opposite MacDonald’s store, where the shell depot is now. There used to be a ramp there. Alongside that was the depot for the bitumen or tar drums, we used to gather the tar up and go and flatten out the old corrugated iron, and shape it into canoes and fill the holes with the tar (Mickey Dann).
Where the train display near Shell servo, there was a Youth Centre there, and the local kids used to hang out there. And down the road past the Boulevard heading out of town, on the right hand side was Don Rhodes manganese dump. They used to cart the ore from there to the jetty. The manganese boats used to come in about every month to load. They were only 20 to 30,000 tonners. It would take us a week to load. At night all you could hear was the ore being tipped into the ship. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
The shire relocating Hunt Street and Morgans Street houses out to South Hedland. Okay, from corner of Darlot and Hunt Street there was Granny Coffin’s house, heading north you had Jack Ring’s house, then George and Cathy Clark, on the Morgans Street side there was Rick Coles’ house, this was a gambling house for the locals. On the Hunt Street side there was June Laurence. Alongside them were Syd and Vera Howden. Opposite them was Dick Dann. Then there was Crowe Street. On the hunt street side towards MacDonald’s there was Ray Ford, the Watkins, the Oliver’s, Bill Templeton, Keith Wiles, and Jock McDonald. Going back on the Morgans Street/Crowe Street side was Don Stubbs, Stockers, Derschow’s, Brakin’s, Holborow’s, and then Gerry Clark. Wait there’s more, but I can’t fit them all in. We will do the other side of hunt Street later. All of these people were moved out to south because of the so-called Greenbelt. Up from McDonald’s store, was the Wilsons, then the Rogers, then Jack Haynes, the Healey’s, the Cooks, The Pierces, Freddy Wilson, The Farbers, the next house had various people living in it, but a long term family was Sgt Bowlser, Brenton’s then Mark and Shirley Seigne, The Chitty’s, Todd’s, Keith Wiles son, the Coffins then Sunima cook. Across the road from her were the Nobles. (Sharon and Dianne). Okay, we have been down both sides of Hedland, and now we will go down the centre. From The Esplanade Hotel to Short Street, it was Hunt Street. Form Elders we had the house which was occupied by Mr Mosely’s family, then the MMA office. Across the road were the Police quarters. Up a bit further there was the McCormick’s. They had a garage there on the corner of Edgar and Hunt. Across the road was the Castrol Oil shed, they kept most of their oil drums there, but not petrol. Next to that was a vacant block then the Tennis courts. Across the road from that was a PWD house, then Mr Vince Clarke, then the Kain’s, Freddy Hoffman. Then there was Bert Clark who used to look after the raising of the balls to notify people of the tide movement and Cyclones. Alongside him was Bert Lockyer’s family, then the Mobil Service Station owned by the Stubbs. It was manage by Larry and Norma Gwilliams. He was the mechanic there. In the same building was Del Pilkington and her partner. They ran a cafe and takeaways. After they left it became George’s Takeaway, and he sold the best fish and chips. The Stubbs owned two Service Stations. Where Hedland Liquor is now, and on the corner of Hardie and Morgan they had the other there. It was then taken over by Jim Leete. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
Back in the 50s, the pearling luggers use to come in for food supplies. And sometimes for layup. Where the FMG wharf now is there was a waterhole there, and the Japanese pearlers used to get their water from there. Once a Japanese crew member died at sea, and they brought him into port, and buried him where this waterhole was. You could access it from behind Wedgefield, but since they put a wharf there, and dredged it, it’s no more. I know the grave was marked with an iron cross. We used to go over there every now and then to clean the grave, and put some flowers there. We didn’t even know his name. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
The cattle yard which was near the Tamarind tree, was used when the cattle was driven in on horseback from Boodarie, Pippingarra, Strelley, Carlindi and surrounding areas. The cattle was driven across the 3 causeways that was the only into Hedland. When the cattle was brought in, we would get jobs to help feed and water them until it was time to drive them along the back ridge to the jetty. These were loaded on ships such as the “Gorgon”. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
Where the tug boats pond are, there were just mangroves, From there towards the north, the first house belong to family named Jurgons, along a bit more was the house where the Catholic priest lived, alongside him was a water tank, then a bit further was Richardson butchers, then a little further was the first hospital. Then from there was the town hospital. After a while and when they built the hospital up on the hill from the yacht club, the old place was turned into the nurses’ quarters. I was the orderly who used to pick up the nurses for work in a Combie van. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
The first rubbish dump in Port Hedland is where BHP is now sitting. This was also the 1 mile reserve for the Aboriginal people. Then when Bechel Pacific (first miners) moved in, they moved the people out to 2 mile which was opposite the Hedland Boulevard. Then when Mt Newman moved in, they moved the people out to 3 mile. There were 16 waterholes from the first causeway right into the wharf area. We used to use those waterholes to fill our bottles up. (Mickey Dann, FB, Dec 2011)
My Godfather Vince Clark used to have a herd of coats over on Finucane in the 50s. We used to walk over at low tide or neap tide to feed them and fix the fences. The place was covered with foxes, and we had to shoot them from getting the goats. Where the first Goldsworthy wharf was built, we used that as a boat landing. There was a beautiful beach there, until the dredging started and Goldsworthy built the wharf. In front of the Cemetery it was all rock towards Rock of ages. Now it is all sand. When the dredging started it made the spoil bank, and then there was a small channel between the yacht club, (wasn’t there at the time), and the shore. Then the dredge filled the gap in. From the old wharf in Port Hedland was all reef, all the way to the rock of ages. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
There was another time when we used to go fishing at night on the jetty. At the Finucane side there was these platforms you could walk down and fish from them. One night I decided to go and fish from them. A couple of minutes past, and I heard a voice call me by my name. It sounded just like Dads. I started to remember what my Dad told, “Never answer to anyone if you can’t see their face at night. I slowly started to reel up my line, and I grabbed my knife and started to slowly walk back up the steps. When I looked back, I could see a black figure starting to walk up towards me. I started to run quickly. When I reached the top, I asked my Dad if he called me. He told me no. Ever since then I never went anywhere without an adult or some of my mates. It was the first time that the hair on the back stood up. It was sooo scary (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012).
As an Aboriginal we believe that if any grave is disturbed, that something will happen to whoever touches it. I know of some people who have disturbed graves, are no longer living. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
I was only 2 months old when this was written by my father. Apparently he applied for an exemption from the Act to become a citizen of Hedland. It Says “Dear sir, I beg to make application for an exemption from the Act. Me and my wife has been married for 18 years, and feel that we have proved to be called citizens of Port Hedland”. (Mickey Dann, FB Jan 2012)
This is letter from “Protector of Aborigines”. In connection with land being made available for half-caste, I beg to suggest that in future greater care be taken to ascertain whether applicants for land in Port Hedland are of half-castes or whites, as it is not desirable that half-castes should obtain blocks in the residential sections of the town occupied by whites. One family has already done so on lot 118, and this will tend to retard the growth of the town. I would also recommend that the leases already granted to half-castes and referred to above, be not renewed when they expire. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
Back in late 40s, early 50s, there was a curfew for Aboriginal people in Hedland. There was a fence put up from the top of Howe Street to the edge of the mangroves where BHP stockpile is now. No person was allowed passed that fence after 6pm. If they were then they would be put into jail. My father defied the law and stood up to them, and eventually was given the rights to stay in Hedland. He built the old that on the corner of Morgans and Howe. After a few years, he purchased a block at 7 Morgan Street. He built a one bedroom house, and eventually extended it to a three bedroom. This house occupied 7 people. As we went along and my mother and father decided we needed to go school, we went and enrolled in the State school in Mckay Street. We were there for a while, until one day the principal came and told us that we were not allowed to attend his school, because we were Aboriginal. No in those days we didn’t know what racism was. We were glad to go home. Straight away we went fishing and enjoyed ourselves. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
You know when you are feeling down, sad and lost all your strength. Well, in Aboriginal ways we have the same thing. But we call it “Leun”. It’s an Aboriginal word for feelings, or gut feelings. Say that you have had bad news or there was an argument with family or someone close. We get this “leun” feeling, and feel really down. Then all of a sudden you can pick yourself up and start to feel happy again. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
The water tank opposite the Cooke Point primary. Most of you will know what tank I am talking about. Well, if you walk down that hill towards the mangroves, and head towards Pretty Pool, there is a rocky ledge there. My mum took me there once and showed me a foot print which would have been about half metre or more embedded into the rock. There were two of them. (Mickey Dann)
I remember we used to hang out allot there and when they were building Mt Newman yard, we used to sneak over and put the new 10c coins on the track and let them get flattened for fun. Only a couple of times as it was enough to buy a can of coke lol. The track down under the water tower near the old rifle range and now Merv Stanton’s greenery I remember the footprint. It should be still there on the ledge we fished from all the time. Used to be great for Rock Cod and bream. Also who was the lady from the store up on the ridge near the Mt Newman gate that used to come to Acton school and sell sandwiches out of her boot. That was our school tuck shop. (Allan Butson, FB, Jan 2012)
At the wharf they had the big pylon driver down near the wharf that was a big steel hammer that was drawn up by a winch and let go at about 7 meters. It had no guards so we used to put rocks and steel can on the pylon and run and hide before it was dropped. Used to smash things to pieces. Great fun especially if something smashed loose and whistled passed your ear. (Allan Butson, FB, Jan 2012)
I was wandering if anyone saw a photo fair while ago, before they put the FMG wharf in. There was only the road they were making. In an aerial shot there was big snake in the water, and its head was pointing towards where this Japanese sailor was buried. When you look at the photo you can actually see the snake and how it is winding its way towards the mangroves. I kid you not>!! (Mickey Dann, FB, Dec 2011)
I remember the first postman was Colin Matheson. He used to ride a motor bike with a sidecar. Then after that jack Haynes took over. Colin use to umpire our basketball games when the court was down at where the Custom House is now. He was a great guy. (Mickey Dann, FB, Jan 2012)
The first horse trainer in Hedland was a man called Billy Kain, he train a lot of winners. There was also Mr Vince Clarke, whose house was opposite Hedland Toyota now. He had stables there and used to train the horses on the main road. And sometimes on the oval, which was straight across the road. (Mickey Dann, Dec 2011)
Anyone remember the first park where tom the cheap was? There was an old lady by the name Grace Williams. There were 4 houses there. Then when they built the swimming pool, they knocked down the houses and had a few swing a seesaw and a monkey bar. Alongside was the tennis court. (Mickey Dann, Dec 2011)
Opposite 18 Moore Street, used to be the train sheds. They did maintenance on them once they completed a trip from Marble Bar. All where BHP is now was all mangroves, and our fishing spots that they filled in. Where the ANZ parking area is now, was the local town hall, it was used a lot for concerts, and meetings. And side that was the Roads board office, and opposite that across the road was the post office. Then towards the National bank, was a vacant block then MMA. I remember the “Lumpers Picnic”, (Wharfies). This was put on every year at Pretty Pool. We had the slippery pole. Had to sit on and try and knock the other person off with a pillow. They had this placed in the water. Then there was the Greasy Pig, we had to chased and catch the pig. They greased this little pig up and let it go on the beach. We used to run for miles trying to catch it. All you could see was a mob of kids chasing this. The prize was some lollies and cool drinks. It was a good day outing for the town folk. When the State ships started to cart the cargo to Hedland, there the K ships, these were the Koolinda, Karbarli, Kybra and Koojarra. There the D ships. These were the Dulverton, Dorrigo, and Delemare. The D ships were the cargo ships, and the K ships were the passenger but also carried cargo. There was also the manganese boats. Don Rhodes was the first cartage contractor for that. Buster Powell had the longest manganese truck in Hedland. He built it all by himself, and he used the truck to cart manganese from Woody Woody to Port Hedland. (Mickey Dann, Dec 2011)
When Esplanade started up, it was owned by Kerry Morgan. After a while it was bought by Stuart Dyke and Wally Hannah. They ran for some time, and then Stuart Dyke bought Wally out. The greasy spoon was not there when the tower was built, and also the salt wasn’t there. Where the Greasy Spoon was, there was a tower at the back of it that showed when the tide was coming in and also alerted the town when a state ship was due in. There was a causeway that was between the old wharf area, and on full tide the water use to flow around the Esplanade and fill a pond up where the first oval was. We couldn’t footy or cricket on the oval because of the tides. It would take a week or so to dry up so we could play our sport. On the left where the jetty is was our first swimming pool made of reinforcement wire. The cargo was carted from the ships to the goods shed by trains. The train driver was George Gibson, and then he became the Foreman of the goods shed. Mr Charlie Murphy then became the driver. This rail line also used to cart our water from the Shaw River, and the train depot was opposite BHP. There used to be a turn table there where used to swim in after the rain. A lot of people used to ride the train from Marble Bar to Port Hedland. That was the freight shed where they used to store the cargo that came of the ships. George Gibson was the foreman of the shed when I was working there. Alongside the shed was smaller one where a guy hung himself, this shed wad was never used after that. (Mickey Dann, Dec 2011)
There were a lot of Afghan people here in Port Hedland. They built the 3 causeways that connected to Sth Hedland. The road used to run pass the dog pound and circle back to go to south. (Mickey Dann, FB, Dec 2011)
Remember the days when we had only Super petrol and Standard. There were no big tanks here then. It was shipped up from Fremantle. We had only Shell here then. The Depot was at the corner of Edgar Street, next to the old Laundry. The laundry was owned by Chadocoskis. (I think that how their name was spelt.) Alongside the BHP gate long before the butcher shop, there was a guy named Wimpy Noines, he was the local bottler. There were no cans of any sort but only big bottles. He used to collect them every Saturday. He was a Dutch guy. (Mickey Dann, FB Dec 2011)
Rock of Ages is at the end of Sutherland Street down the road from the Detention Centre. You go right the end and you can see Pretty Pool. There is, and was only one rock of Ages in Hedland. My family used to walk all along the sand hills from Morgan Street to go fishing there. There was never a Rock of Ages at Cemetery Beach. From Acton Street was nothing but sand hills. This was in the 50s. (Mickey Dann, FB Nov 2011)
I have been thinking of how the Shire was and still is knocking old buildings down. Well, you see Dalgety’s is younger than Elders Smith. Elders was there long before Dalgety’s. Elders was managed by a guy called Mr. Flanigan. Also in the olden days, you could pay 37 pence for a stone of potatoes, and same for onions. We had no electricity only Cabalt lamps, and the old Kalgoorlie fridges. The street lights had 100 watt globes in them, and every evening an old man used to carry his ladder and clean the globes. Those were the days. Only 150 people in the town back then. (Mickey Dann, FB Oct 2012)
For more story telling by Mickey Dann, see www.protectingourland.yolasite.com
“1947 – The New Coolbaroo League founded by the young activist, Helena Clarke from Port Hedland. Anyone have stories on this? Yes that wonderful woman is my Dad’s older sister. In the early 20’s my Grandfather had a hall called the Euralia Club behind old Shirley Clark shop on Morgans Street. It was used for very secrective meetings and dance nights for Indigenious people all over the Pilbara. Especially round race time. My Dad and his six brothers had their own band. Large bottles of king brown’s were quietly drunk in the darkness of night in a special back room. I have an old photo of one of the very many meetings held there. One woman was allowed to attend to give information and take info back to all the other wives. Her name was Mary Murphy. Aunty Lizzy, Uncle Alan etc etc were her brothers and sisters. My Aunty Helena (Lena) MARRIED THEIR OLDER BROTHER. I hope this will provide you with organizing what you wish to do. If there is anything else you would like to know Uncle Poablo Dann and Ruth Saunders maybe able to help you. Mark Clarke as well. (Sylvia Clarke, FB Oct 2012)
Did you know that the first diving board that was built in Port Hedland was at the creek at Pretty pool. It was situated just down from the horse stables at Pretty Pool, not far from the edge of the mangroves. A couple of local guys cemented a diving board, and they cemented steps alongside the board. In the late 1950s, Throck of mangroves at Pretty Pool. From the inlet right around the creek was all sand. Where the diving board was, just up from the swimming area, they also erected a shade made out of spinifex, put in between some chicken wire. We also held our Lumpers Pinic there at Pretty Pool. We used to have swimming races, Slippery pole fights(not real fights, but with pillows). Trying to knock the opponent off the greased up pole. We also had where a little pig was greased up and all of us used to chased it across the sand flat. Also, because the whole of Pretty Pool was covered just in sand, and was such a lovely looking place, THIS IS WHERE IT GOT ITS NAME PRETTY POOL. (Mickey Dann, FB 16 September 2013)
I remember when the Footy Oval was where Hedland Toyota is now(the servicing section). It was just a round cleared part. No lawn, just a dust bowl. A shade house would fit about 20 people. The rest would sit around the edge of the oval. The main road would be about ten metres away from the road. We would play every Sunday, and have a BBQ after the match. Never caring who won or lost, everybody would join in. The trophy was a hand crafted piece of wood. And everyone was so proud to win that trophy every year. Not like today, they seem to play for sheep stations, etc. One thing good about the game, everybody would shake each other’s hands, whether it was the opposite team or not, and say to the opposite team, (wait until next week, we will beat you,) with a slight grin. Sport was the only thing that brought Aboriginal and white people together. The main sport we had was Basketball and Footy. Sport actually was the major reason why the Exclusion Zone was discarded. (Mickey Dann, FB 15 April 2014)
Did you that between 6 mile and the wharf, were 8 waterholes. Those waterholes were an essential to the locals when walking out to fishing spots. Because in those days we never had cars. From where we used to live, it took us a whole day to walk out to Pretty Pool, Six mile, the Gap, etc. There was only one road through Port Hedland. And would have been about 7 to 8 feet wide. Some nights you could lay on the road for hours, until the Police would ride by. Port Hedland was manned by one Policeman. And he was the only person who had lights on his bike. This was in the 1950s. (Mickey Dann, FB 8 April 2014)
I remember when the only main road was Anderson Street (previously Hunt St before). The road was about 2 metres wide. All the other roads were actually bush paths. The end of the town was Howe St. From then on, there were no houses. And where the Fire Dept. is now, there were 3 little houses that explosives were kept in. The road was just a two wheel track that we used to use to walk to Pretty Pool. And where Jan Ford is in Anderson Street now, there was a store owned by Jock McDonald. He was the first electrical service business in town. In the early 1950s, there were only T models fords, and only a few people had these. (Mickey Dann, FB 16 April 2014).
In the olden days everything in Port Hedland was marked Miles, inches and feet. All the old fishing spots were in miles. Like, 1 mile was the first Aboriginal reserve where BHP is now. Then 2 mile was the second Aboriginal reserve, opposite the Drive in. 3 mile is where it is now. 4 mile was a great fishing place especially for whiting and mullet, until the developers stuffed it up. 5 mile was devided by a small creek. 6 mile is where the rocks are, a lovely place to fish from on …low tide. 7 and 8 mile creeks were small but plentiful of salmon. 9 mile is still a good little place for fishing for salmon red snapper, etc. 12 mile was another Aboriginal reserve, but there is also another fishing ground for locals. 16 mile or 16 Mile run through is a good fishing spot. 26 mile is a fabulous fishing spot, and is good for a sleepover. 28 mile is the best. Sometimes it is treacherous getting there after a full tide. But any old local will tell you a few yarns about these spots. (Mickey Dann, Facebook, 2 Nov 2015).
I came across your website because I was telling my son ( born Port Hedland 1974) about the event. Our team (Bullock’s Bulls) set off after the Tigers and we couldn’t understand why we weren’t catching them as we were beating the previous record by over an hour.
I have lots of memories of those days. We lived in South Hedland and remember when the Coles supermarket opened about 1975. I believe they broke the company record for the highest sales in a day. It was a Saturday and closing time then was 12 noon but the store took till 3 pm to clear all the customers. You might find it worthwhile to contact Coles and ask if they have any information. I’m sure there would have been a report in the local newspaper. (George, 8 Feb 2017)
Went for a drive in the other day. Checked out the old road into Pretty Pool. It’s still there. For anyone who don’t know where it is. It’s between the limestone ridge and mangroves. It led to the old diving board, where we used to swim. Back in the days Pretty Pool was all sand. No mangroves at all. After that I went on the old 4 mile road. And that’s even still there. The name Pretty Pool was named by the wharfie. Because of the sand and the fishing, it looked beautiful. (Mickey Dann, Facebook, 8 May 2017)
Story by Graham Williams – 1960 Port Hedland corroboree
More stories soon!