The Whim Creek Hotel was once the centre of a thriving mining town. While the rest of the town has passed in to history, this iconic, historic inn is still at the heart of the Pilbara. The history of the Whim Creek Hotel mirrors the story of the Pilbara. After tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal way of life was replaced by gold prospectors and cow boys. The building has seen murders, been destroyed by cyclones and even been home to an infamous beer drinking camel.
Whim Creek was established in 1872 when copper was discovered nearby. Located 1645km north of Perth, Western Australia, the township once swelled to 400 people, many of whom worked at the copper mine. Along with Cossack and Roebourne it was an important town in the Pilbara. In its heyday, the town had two pubs, a Post Office, Bakery, Police Station and a population of 400, 130 of whom worked in the town’s copper mine – once the biggest in the North West. In earlier years the ore was carried 20km to the port of Balla Balla on a railway line. Sails were attached to the loaded rail wagons, in order to use the trade winds that blow during much of the year. The jetty at Balla Balla was used until the decline of the copper mine in the 1930’s and was finally blown away by a cyclone in 1956.
Across the highway is a track to Balla Balla – a popular camping spot on the coast. Balla Balla was once a town site and was gazetted in 1898. The name is derived from the Aboriginal word ‘parla’ which means mud. It is now a popular fishing spot.
The Whim Creek hotel was first built in 1886 but the structure was destroyed by a cyclone. It was rebuilt in the early 1900s using steel produced by English company Dorman Long; who would go on to be one of the world’s great bridge builders. The company built both the Sydney Harbour and Auckland Harbour bridges and Grafton Bridge in NSW. The steel frame was intended for the Marble Bar courthouse. The frame and materials were landed at Balla Balla jetty, ready for transport inland to Marble Bar, but the effort was stranded by a large cyclone. The building was erected at its current site on the banks of Whim Creek, where the steel frame has stood ever since. The facade has, however, been blown off twice.
In July 2014, two local Aboriginal corporations bought the Whim Creek Hotel from Venturex. The Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited and the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation, both of Roebourne, purchased the facility in a joint venture. The partners use the hotel to promote education and training opportunities for their members, and to return profits from its operation to the local community to improve health, education and welfare among the Aboriginal population.
There is a small cemetery at Whim Creek, as well as a memorial to five brothers from the local Aboriginal community who are commemorated for their war service.
You can learn about the rich and colourful history from the many photos and displays adorning the walls. General manager, Bob, is a mine of historical information about the pub and the region – ask him about the ghost!
Sunday – Thursday 9am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday 9am – 10pm