Koolyanobbing – Place of Large Rocks
At the turn of the century, it was the thirst for gold that led prospectors to the Koolyanobbing area. Today it's Iron Ore Mining that continues.
It was in 1887 that prospector Henry Dowd became the first white man to visit the area; he didn't return until 1891 and thought "the rock was without value". Dowd placed a transcript of his findings in a bottle and buried it on a hill at the foot of a surveying peg. The bottle was not found until 1963 on what is known as Dowd Hill. (The transcript can be seen at the Yilgarn History Museum.)
Iron Ore is mined by the Portman/Koolyanobbing Iron venture, and the ore is now railed to Esperance, 578km to the south. Salt is also mined on the eastern side of Lake Deborah by WA Salt. Geological surveys in 1952 showed considerable Iron Ore Deposits. In 1960 BHP obtained a lease for the area. Quarry operations began 1967 on Dowd Hill. This main deposit contained approximately 60 million tons of Ironstone with a grading of 61% Fe. Treated ore was at this time railed to Kwinana, some 430km to the west. A township was established at Koolyanobbing to cater for 400/500 people with school, club, swimming pool, hall, general store, bowling green etc. Then in 1983 mining ceased due to economical reasons.
During 1993/94 most of the buildings were sold and moved away.
Iron Ore recommenced in 1993/94. By Portland Mining Venture—Koolyanobbing Iron, and the ore is now railed to Esperance 578km to the south. During 1994–95, 714,025 tonnes of Ore for $14 million was produced.
Further north of Koolyanobbing (accessible via dirt track) is Bungalbin Range. It has some spectacular rock formations and scenery, surpassed only by the Hammersley Range in Western Australia.