moving_mountainsMoving Mountains

The Evolution of Port Hedland Harbour

by Murray Shaw

ISBN 0 85905 389 X, (2007 new), Soft Cover, A4, 98pp, Illustrated in colour, 285grams

$30* + POST

Contains 21 colour and 24 black and white illustrations.

Port Hedland is the biggest tonnage port in Australia. This is its story!

In December 1960 the Commonwealth Government lifted a 22 year-old total embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia. This announcement immediately attracted attention from some of the biggest mining companies in the world who sent a steady stream of geologists to the Pilbara to inspect ore deposits. Some of these proved massive although located far from the coast. An exception to this was Mt Goldsworthy which although smaller (with an estimated 30 million tons of iron ore) was only 55 km from the coast and 100 km east of Port Hedland. At first it was not considered viable, or indeed possible, to transform this small tidal pastoral/mining port into a deepwater port because of the natural limitations of the harbour. In 1965 it was restricted to vessels of just 3500 tonnes and had an annual throughput of only 100,000 tonnes. However, as the need was urgent, it was looked at anew by specialist engineers and it was decided the job could be done. In 2006 the largest vessel to have used the harbour was almost 260,000 deadweight tonnes and the annual throughput was over 110 million tonnes.

This book traces the history of the harbour from the time of its European discovery in 1863 right through to its development by mining companies 1960 - 2006.

As a workboat skipper in the NW and working on the construction and dredging work for Port Hedland Harbour in 1965-68, Murray Shaw developed an abiding interest in the history of the port. Later he worked in the same area as a master on survey and standby vessels and elsewhere on the Australian coast and throughout SE Asia. On retirement he completed a Degree with a double major in politics and history, with Honours on the subject which led to this book.