This is a little something that is part of a life story I am writing.
The year was 1969 around June when we arrived in the Pilbara of WA.
Just out of Port Hedland there is an oasis of a caravan park; fuel bowsers and a shop, this was known as Dixon’s which is beside a new Walkabout Hotel across from the airport.
Driving around the town arrived at Cooke Point, where the first of the new houses being built for Mt. Newman Mining by Geraldton Building Company were ready for painting. We got a job straight away and moved into the Nelson Point Construction Camp that afternoon. GBC had their own dongas, but we ate in the Bechtel Pacific mess hall.
The only entertainment in Port Hedland was ABC radio. There were two hotels, the Esplanade and the Pier, there were also two late night eateries, the Greasy Spoon and Chew and Spew was what they were usually referred to as. The Esplanade Hotel had a beer garden courtyard where most of the aborigines seemed to have their own barroom on the harbour side of the bottom floor. A band used to play in the courtyard. There was also an island bar out the back as it was always busy. The Pier Hotel had an old house within the grounds where a band called Zonk, played all their music on the verandah.
There was also the Acapulco Club in Anderson Street near the pensioner units. There were always fights going on with broken windows nearly every night. Next to the laundry/dry cleaners and across the road from the Court House, was a gambling den where most of the single Yugoslavian men would hang out. This hall later became the Potters House church and still later the Faulty Towers restaurant.
There were two general stores; Dalgety’s next to the Esplanade Hotel and Elders Stores which is where Hedland Emporium is now. Around the corner was the Port Hedland Newsagency, a couple of old houses then Dempster’s Store in its final throes of business, where you could find parts for a ’T’ model Ford and just about anything else. Upstairs was bed only accommodation that overlooked the Picture Gardens.
Around the corner in the Esplanade was Richardson’s Butchers which also sold fruit and vegetables. Further along was the geodesic dome building of the RFDS. There was another dome on Finucane Island, that was the community hall for Goldsworthy Mining Co. employees.
Further down Anderson Street near Howe Street was a new Store of MacDonalds which had a good array of fruit, vegetables and groceries. There was a 20cent Coca Cola machine inserted into the front wall near the entrance door. This building later became Bennetts-Jupps which sold Furniture and floor coverings. They were a subsidiary of Bennetts Elite and Jumps Carpets in Geraldton. Next to McDonalds Store was Werner Kermries who had the BP service station and the Volkswagen dealership.
In Wilson Street was one of the first Bunnings stores ever. I remember a girl Vicki Lukis that worked there, she knew everything that was in stock and where it was.
In Darlot Street was Coventry’s where you could buy anything electrical and automotive. They later moved to Wedgefield and GBC moved into that big shed with building supplies, paint and hardware.
There was also Clarke’s General Store In Morgans Street just below the Hospital. This was in its last throes of business due to location primarily.
On the corner of Sutherland and Kingsmill Streets was the Port Hedland Regional Hospital. It was in a wonderful location overlooking the ocean. It was partially ruined in 1975, when cyclone Joan wreaked havoc on Port and South Hedland causing damage to buildings and infrastructure. The high tension wires pylons along North Circular Road in South Hedland were bent at a 90 degree angle and had to be replaced. It was only slightly weaker than when cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974. The Northwest of Western Australia had cyclone rated buildings whereas Darwin did not.
Cooke Point Caravan Park had a great shop that seemed to stock everything, it was there before a lot of the housing had been built. It was always a popular park that overlooked Pretty Pool and the estuary to the salt flats between Athol Street and Styles Road, the road that led to the horse stables and Pretty Pool car park and the rubbish tip.
I loved swimming off the beach of Pretty Pool. In the summer the turtles would come up on the beach to lay their eggs but there were always 4 wheel drives up and down the beach. I kept writing to the Port Hedland Shire Council until they eventually closed the beach to vehicular traffic. Over the limestone ridge from Pretty Pool was the rubbish tip, which was always the place for a good fossick, then then further on was a good tidal fishing creek where a lot of good salmon were caught.
Emerys Harries had the Land Rover; BMC dealership in Anderson Street and next to him was Tony Devlin who had the Retrovision dealership. Tony started selling small electrical goods from his Bechtel Pacific, Nelson Point construction camp room and with television on the way via coaxial cable, he was in the right place at the right time.
Colin Langley, Tony Yau, George Ng, Werner Kemries, Mechanic below Richardson Motors Holden Dealers, Mrs Stubbs, Bunnings, Power Station, Polar soft drinks, Herbert Schlipper electrical and manufacturing, Brian Butterfield Toyota Dealership, Arnold and Fran Carter, Northwest Times,
All this was before South Hedland and Wedgefield had been built on what was part of Boodarrie and Pippingarra Stations owned by The Hardey Brothers and Mr. John Richardson respectively.
Author: John Rossiter, phone and email supplied. 9 March 2022.