Town of Port HedlandEconomic profile
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Town of Port Hedland

About the area

Name origin

The Town of Port Hedland is named after Captain Peter Hedland, who discovered the entrance to the harbour in 1863.

Location and boundaries

The Town of Port Hedland is located in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia, about 1,800 kilometres north of the Perth CBD. The Town of Port Hedland is bounded by the Indian Ocean in the north, the Shire of East Pilbara in the east and south-east, the Shire of Ashburton in the south-west, and the City of Karratha in the west.

Included areas

The Town of Port Hedland includes the localities of Boodarie, De Grey, Indee, Marble Bar (part), Mundabullangana, Pippingarra, Port Hedland, Redbank, South Hedland, Strelley, Wallareenya and Wedgefield.

Economic region
Town of Port Hedland

Land use

The Town of Port Hedland is predominantly rural, with small townships at Port Hedland and South Hedland. The Town encompasses a total land area of over 18,000 square kilometres. Iron ore mining is the main industry, with some gas and salt production. The Town includes significant industrial areas. Rural land is used mainly for cattle grazing.


The Town of Port Hedland is served by the Great Northern Highway, the North West Coastal Highway, the Port of Port Hedland and Port Hedland International Airport.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the late 1800s, with land used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing. Population was minimal until the late 1890s, when Port Hedland developed as a port. A railway line was constructed from Port Hedland to Marble Bar in 1911. Significant development did not occur until 1965 when iron ore mining commenced, resulting in substantial population and housing growth in and around the Port Hedland township. The township of South Hedland was established in the early 1970s as a satellite suburb. The Port Hedland Immigration Detention Centre opened in 1991 and closed in 2004, using the former BHP single men’s quarters as a detention centre for refugees, with a capacity of 600 people. The population of the Town fluctuated in recent years, with population growth during the construction phases of industrial and port infrastructure projects.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the Town of Port Hedland were the Kariyarra, Nyamal and Ngarla Aboriginal people.