Cossack Historic Town in Cossack, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Cossack Historic Town

Cossack, Australia

This once-thriving coastal area is now a preserved ghost town.  


Situated in the heart of Australia’s Pilbara region at the mouth of the Harding River is the small historic town of Cossack. This once-abandoned area is steeped in history and in recent years the town’s buildings have been restored to allow visitors to step back in time. The history first started with the Ngarluma people, the local Aboriginal people who occupied the land for hunting and fishing for thousands of years.

In 1863, a British-born Australian pioneer named Walter Padbury landed his ship, Tien Tsin, near Cossack. Over the next few eyars, many others followed to settle was the first port in northern West Australia. The area was initially used for pastoral farming which led to the development of infrastructure.

Cossack was one of the key sites for the booming pearling industry across the region in the 1800s. Historic records indicate that in the early 1870s, there were up to 80 pear luggers operating in the region. This led to an influx of Japanese, Chinese, and Malay people who migrated to work in the arduous conditions of the industry.

The following years saw many workers and ships involved in pearling move to Broome and alongside the decline of the gold rush, this led to the population of Cossack rapidly declining. In the 1940s, the last residents left, leaving the stone buildings to fall into a state of disrepair.

In 2007, a decision was made to restore the buildings to their former glory, and the town is now a designated museum town. Visitors can walk around and venture inside the restored structures, including the bakehouse, the courthouse, and the historic post office.

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