Lookout and Beach
To get a good overview of the town take the turning to Tien Tsin Lookout which offers an excellent view of the town and area. Settlers Beach is a safe sandy location for families.
Although a ghost town, Cossack boasts nine buildings and a cemetery listed by the National Trust. Located in Perserverance St are the old stone police quarters and gaol dating from around 1890. These have been converted into backpackers' accommodation. At the Fraser St corner is a vernacular stone school built in the 1890s to replace the original which was destroyed by a cyclone.
Several of the better buildings are in Pearl St. The Post and Telegraph Office in was one of the earliest stone buildings in the town. It was constructed using local shell limestone, most probably in the early 1880s. The ground floor was originally a customs house with a chemist and post office upstairs. Galbraith's Store (c.1891) was the first local building erected of local bluestone, and the mining registrar's office and residence is located on the corner with Strand St.
The two-storey courthouse (c.1885), also in Pearl St, like so many of the buildings in Roebourne, was designed by George Temple Poole. Built of stone from the ballast of ships, its wide verandah and heavy rusticated pillars make it the most prominent building in the town.
The Customs House
The Bonded Store and Customs House (1895) was also designed by George Temple Poole. The supervisor of the restoration of the town has written of this building that 'It was built for administrative purposes and its design reflects the still high prominence of the British Empire in Australia. It was built to last'.
The stone customs house is testimony to the period when Cossack served as an important colonial port, prior to the transfer of the port to Point Samson at the outset of the 20th century. It was restored and re-opened in August, 2001 with the following press release:
'The port of Cossack, established in 1863, was the first port in the north-west of Western Australia. In a short time it became a very busy port, greatly relied on by settlers for essential supplies, as well as news from Perth, interstate and overseas.
Customs played an essential role in the control of imports and exports, and the collection of duty and taxes. It is very fitting that this historic building, which was constructed six years before Federation, has now been restored.
Achievements since Federation in 1901 are woven into the interpretation of the site. This history is displayed in pictorial form and represented by artifacts of customs and pearling in the Pilbara.
Customs Officers in Dampier, students from the Millars Well Primary School and the Shire of Roebourne have all made significant contributions to the success of this project. The Customs House is also available to the ten schools in the Shire as an educational and research facility. The public now have improved and safe access to this important building which conveys a sense of what life was like for early customs officials.
One area which is of historical significance but has no buildings remaining is the area between the town and the cemetery. In the 1870s this area was the winter home for the Asian pearl divers. It was divided into 'Chinatown', 'Japtown' and 'Malaytown' and there is evidence that the separate areas had stores, tailors, bath houses and even brothels.
The two cemeteries (the European and Japanese) are beautifully located on the sand dunes on the edge of town. The Japanese cemetery is basically the resting place for Japanese pearl divers who either were lost at sea or drowned while diving.
The European cemetery is the resting place of William Shakespeare Hall, one of the members of F.W. Gregory's party, and of 10-year-old Laura Pearl, the daughter of the local policeman, who died of tetanus after treading on a nail: a stark reminder of the hardships of isolated life.
Two maritime structures of historic interest are the stone wharf (c.1870), which is a reminder of Cossack's original role as a crucial port, and the Jarman Island Lighthouse and Quarters at the entrance to Butchers Inlet, upon which Cossack is located. The stone building is named after Captain Jarman, the pilot of the barque Tien Tsin, which first brought Europeans to the harbour.
Cossack Adventure Tours offer cruises of the area, departing from Cossack Wharf and taking in the historic lighthouse at Jarman Island, the Harding River and Butchers Inlet, tel: (08) 9182 1060 or email@example.com