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Dampier Archipelago Rock-Art Precinct

The Archipelago


The Dampier Archipelago, named after English Buccaneer William Dampier, who visited the area in 1688, is a group of some 47 islands situated 1600km north of Perth in Western Australia.

It has two townships. Dampier town site, on the Dampier Island (The Burrup Peninsula), was established in the mid 1960's by the mining company Hamersley Iron as a base for its workers at their facilities located on the Burrup. The township of Karratha, named after the regions first Sheep Station, was established in 1968-9 as a joint State government - Hamersley Iron project to meet the expanding accommodation needs of the mining company. Karratha is located on the mainland some 14km to the South-East of the Burrup in Nicol Bay .

Dampier Island (The Burrup Peninsula) is approximately 30.5 km in length and 5km wide. At a 117 sq km it is the largest of the Islands that make up the Dampier Archipelago.

The The Burrup Peninsula is an artificial peninsula that used to be called Dampier Island until it was connected to the mainland in the mid-1960s, by a causeway supporting both a road and rail track. In 1979 it was re-named after the island's highest hill, Mt Burrup. Mt Burrup was named after one Henry Burrup, a 19th century bank clerk in the nearby town of Roebourne.

The Archipelago is relatively recently drowned landmass, the shorelines of which stabilised about 6000 years ago.

At the time of the last Ice Maxim, some 20,000 years ago, the Burrup and surrounding islands would have been mountain peaks on a plain that stretched all the way to the ocean some 140km further to the north.

The strange low boulder hills of the Peninsula are covered in countless rock engravings, or petroglyphs, many of which are believed to date well before this last ice age.



The low ridges and rocky hills made up of massive boulders dominates the landscape of the Archipelago and these steep-sided valleys provide entrancing access corridors through the rugged terrain and form an important sources of water and shade. The coastline offers a complex array of different environments including rocky shores, sandy beaches, tidal mudflat's and mangroves.




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