Cossack Museum

WA's first pearling port

Located on the beautiful banks of the Harding River, the Cossack Museum is housed in the old courthouse, now resurrected from the abandoned port town of Cossack. As Perth was developing into the state’s capital, settlers sought out new lands and industries in the uncharted northern district. Cossack became its first northern port, servicing the town of Roebourne and the growing pearling fleet. Built in 1895 by the esteemed government architect George Temple Poole, it is now part of a complex that includes a café, gallery, guesthouse and exhibition space that hosts regular art markets and music events. The surrounding gardens are littered with evocative remnants of the past – tanks, engines and other paraphernalia that continue to be unearthed. It is a place of many names that similarly reveal the colourful past of the first port on the northwest coast. It was known as Bajinhurrba (wild place) to the Ngarluma people, acknowledging the power of the Harding River before it was dammed. In 1863 Padbury named the harbour Tien Tsin after his next boat, foreshadowing strong Asian connections within the town. It was renamed after the visit from Governor Weld on the HMS Cossack in 1871. Abandoned but not forgotten, the Heritage Council has preserved many of the buildings, including the museum, and it is currently leased to the Ngarluma Yinjibarndi Foundation Limited (NYFL) which has plans to resuscitate the town into a tourist destination, offering cultural, fishing and walking experiences around Cossack and its lighthouse on Jarman Island. Whilst the museum and all heritage buildings at Cossack are managed by NYFL, the collection is owned by the City of Karratha.


Corner of Perseverance Street & Pearl Street
Cossack WA

Opening Hours

February to March Sat to Sun 10am - 3pm; April to October 7 days 10am - 3pm; November to December Sat to Sun 10am - 3 pm

Traces of porcelain

Quietly resting amongst fragments of reconstructed vases and ginger pots, this small Chinese-styled ceramic head is a reminder of the strong presence of Asian labourers and shopkeepers in the frontier...

Although pearling had begun in Shark Bay in the 1860s, where small pearls were extracted from the small, Pinctada albina, when the much larger Pinctada maxima shell was discovered in Nichol Bay it was...

More North West collections

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While you're in the area

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The Ganalili Centre
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Cossack Heritage Trail
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