The township of Roebourne was first established in 1866 and named after John Septimus Roe, Western Australia’s First Surveyor General. Originally the administrative capital of the North West, the growing town was serviced by the nearby port at Cossack. Today, eight historic buildings still remain, each with its own interesting history. The Old Gaol provides an insight into the Aboriginal people who contributed to the development of the area and tells the stories of five hangings at the Gaol between 1893 and 1900. A brochure with more information and interesting facts about Roebourne’s historic buildings can be obtained from the Roebourne Visitor Centre.

Roebourne, in the north west of Western Australia, is the oldest surviving town between Geraldton and Darwin and is situated 30 kilometres east of Karratha. Many fine old stone buildings still remain as a constant reminder of the early years.

Famed for being the first white settlers in the Roebourne region, John and Emma Withnell, established Mount Welcome Station on the site of ‘Ieramargadu’ (pronounced Ira muga doo), a fresh water pool on the Harding River. Many of the original buildings in and around this historic town have been restored and provide an insight into these early pioneering times, when it was home to the Shire of Roebourne and regarded as the capital of the North West. Although the original old building still stands, the Shire Administration Centre and Offices are now situated in Karratha.

Attractions in Roebourne

  • Learn more about the history of this rustic outback WA town by visiting the Roebourne Visitor Centre located at 34 Roe Street in Roebourne.
  • Discover the fine works of several world renowned Aboriginal artists displayed in local galleries.
  • Explore the beautiful Point Samson Peninsula.
  • Drive to the top of Mount Welcome, passing the Holy Trinity Church, and take in the panoramic view of the coastal plains, town and rugged hills.
  • Follow the Emma Withnell Heritage Trail- a 52 kilometre drive and walk trail which starts from the Roebourne Visitor Centre taking in CossackWickham and Point Samson.
  • Don’t miss the Roebourne Race season, which commences in June. The season includes a Tourism and Hospitality Day (sponsored by Karratha Visitor Centre), Family Day, Ladies Day and Roebourne Cup Day, where you can take part in an old Australian game of Two-up after the last race of the day. Further information can be obtained from the Norwest Jockey Club website
  • Spend an afternoon at Harding River Dam, an ideal destination for a day drive and picnic. As well as free gas barbecues and shady gazebos set amongst grassed areas on the edge of the downstream water course, there are several vantage points from which to take in the dramatic scenery of red Pilbara rocks contrasting with the deep blue and green hues of the water. Toilets and running water are available, though camping is not permitted.
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