An entire Pilbara township where Western Australia’s pearling industry originated is on the market, with the state government hoping the new owners will breathe new life into the historic ghost town.
Offered for sale for the first time, Cossack, which is about 1480 kilometres north of Perth and a half-hour drive from Karratha, was established in 1863.
The abandoned town, which is on Butchers Inlet at the mouth of the Harding River on the Pilbara Coast, was the first port to be founded in the north west of Australia.
The WA Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage has enlisted LJ Hooker Karratha and LJ Hooker Commercial Perth to conduct a registrations of interest campaign for the 22-hectare site, and they are on the hunt for proposals that will bring social and economic benefits to the state’s north west.
Anna Guillesserok, LJ Hooker Karratha sales executive, said the unique offering had so far generated a large amount of interest from overseas buyers, as well as from Perth tourism businesses.
“What makes it rare is that it has so much land around it and raw, natural beauty,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be an excellent site for someone to develop as far as tourism goes. I think it rivals Karijini [National Park] for what it has to offer.”
The department, on behalf of the State of WA, is looking for interest from the private sector to create a new era for Cossack, while preserving its cultural and heritage values, and its natural and built environment. Twelve heritage-listed buildings and Jarman Island are part of the sale.
The Cossack town site precinct and the Jarman Island lighthouse and quarters are on the state register of heritage places.
The statement of significance says the precinct has several buildings constructed of local materials and archaeological sites dating from the 1870s, which have cultural heritage significance due to the fact they contain evidence of the impact of European settlement on Aboriginal communities.
The precinct is also noted for the “outstanding figures in the early development of the Pilbara region, including explorer F. T. Gregory, the Padbury, Wellard, Broadhurst, Withnell and Sholl families, and Cossack identities such as the Halls and Muramats”.
During the gold rushes of the late 1880s, new immigrants arrived through Cossack, according to the heritage listing.
“At this time the settlement was linked to Roebourne with the tramway. Despite this, the town was slowly eclipsed by Point Samson, with the establishment of the jetty there,” it stated.
“In the 20th century, activities at Cossack included commerce, as seen at Muramats Store, and the turtle processing enterprise based out of the Customs Building.”
The government is looking for proposals for low-impact tourism ventures such as innovative and high-quality eco-tourism accommodation, camping, cafes and galleries, which will support the regeneration of the town’s under-utilised heritage assets, while also ensuring the long-term conservation and future management of the site.
LJ Hooker Commercial Perth director Vincent Siciliano said Cossack was a pivotal part of WA’s pearling industry.
“But Cossack sits in an amazing pocket of the Pilbara. The townsite is bordered by the azure water of the Harding River,” he said.
“This campaign presents a developer or entity with a rare chance to deliver a vision and ongoing commitment for a low-impact activation of a piece of WA’s history.”
The campaign is open until 2pm on November 20.