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 is Iron Ore mining that continues. It was in 1887 that prospector Henry Dowd became the first white man to visit the area and he did not return until 1891 and thought “the rock was without value”.

Mr 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 now known as Dowd Hill. The transcript can be seen at the Historical Museum.

Geological surveys in 1952 showed considerable Iron Ore deposits. In 1960 BHP obtained a lease for the area. Quarry operations began in 1967 on Dowd Hill. This main deposit contained approximately 60 million tonnes 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 the mining workforce. Approximately 400/500 people had access to a school, club, swimming pool, hall, general store, bowling green etc. Then in 1983 mining ceased due to economic reasons.

The Koolyanobbing Mining Operation recommenced in 1993/94 by Portman Mining Venture. Portman’s mining model was to run the mining operations as a FIFO workforce and as such during 1994/95 most of the buildings were sold, removed and replaced with single person’s quarters. Cliffs Natural Resources  acquired the operation from Portman in December 2008 and still operate today.

Please note that the townsite of Koolyanobbing is a mining camp and as such no access is allowed to the public past the townsite. As it is an operating minesite tourists must obey all signage and directions given by the mine operators.