The Yaburrara Aboriginal tribe are the original custodians of the area. They call the area, Murujuga, which means “Hip Bone Sticking Out” in the Yaburrara language.

The Dampier area is home to the largest collection of petroglyphs (ancient rock art) in the world. These petroglyphs are considered to be among the earliest examples of art and are found at over 700 archaeological sites in the area, generally depicting human figures, animals, animal tracks and symbols.

The area, now known as the Burrup Peninsula is protected by the Murujuga National Park, and shows just a glimpse of the 30,000 year history of our Indigenous peoples in the Pilbara.

The town of Dampier gets its name from the English navigator William Dampier.

In 1699, Dampier, in command of the 26-gun warship HMS Roebuck on a mission to explore the coast of New Holland, following the Dutch route to the Indies, passed between Dirk Hartog Island and the Western Australian mainland into what he called Shark Bay.

He then followed the coast northeast, and on 21 August 1699 reached the Dampier Archipelago. He, named it Rosemary Island. He then continued to Lagrange Bay, just south of what is now Roebuck Bay, before sailing for Timor.

William Dampier, Oil on canvas, c. 1697-1698

In 1885, a Government Surveyor F.S. Brockman named the highest hill on the Dampier Island, Mount Burrup in honour of Henry Burrup, a young and well loved Roebourne bank clerk who was murdered earlier that year along with the bank manager at the time, Thomas Anketell.

In 1963, the island was renamed to Dampier and became an artificial peninsula when it was connected to the mainland by a 3km causeway for a road and railway.

In 1979 Dampier Peninsular was renamed the Burrup Peninsular after Henry Burrup.

Today Dampier has a vibrant community with a population of around 1,200 residents. The port exports petroleum products, salt, iron ore and natural gas.

There are 42 islands in the Dampier Archipelago. There is a diverse marine ecosystem around the islands, including whales, dugongs, turtles, and coral.

Whale off Dampier, courtesy of Karratha Visitors Centre – www.karrathavisitorcentre.com.au

Our Heritage

History of the Port