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Emma Withnell Heritage Trail

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Emma Withnell Historical Trail sign and Cossack sign

The Emma Withnell Heritage Trail is in Western Australia. The trail is not an official tourist drive but is a 52km driving trail to a number of points of interest for tourists.

The trail is named after Emma Mary Withnell who is known as the ‘Mother of the North-West’ and the ‘first lady of the Pilbara’. She and her husband John Withnell operated a pastoral lease, Mount Welcome Station, around 1864 that later became the site of Roebourne in 1866, the first town in the North West region.

Driving Route

The 52km driving trail starts at Roebourne and goes through Cossack and Wickham, and finishes at Point Samson.

The drive starts at the south end of Roebourne at the Roebourne Visitor Centre and Old Gaol Museum Brown Sign link, in Queen St.

Come out of Queen St, turning left to head through the township of Roebourne. Turn right into Point Samson-Roebourne Rd with a brown sign for Emma Withnell Heritage Trail, about 1.7km from Queen St.

Continue on Point Samson-Roebourne Rd for 8.3km and turn right into Cossack Rd at the brown sign for Cossack. Follow Cossack Rd for 8.2km.

Come back from Cossack along Cossack Rd to Point Samson-Roebourne Rd and turn right. Continue for 2.6km to turn into Wickham.

Come back out from Wickham and turn left to continue north around 7.5km to Point Samson.

Points of Interest

There are a number of locations along the trail to see and learn about Emma Withnell, a few at the historical abandoned town of Cossack.

A building at Her Majesty's Regional Prison outside of Roebourne in Western Australia, also known as the Old Gaol

Old Gaol Brown Sign link – Her Majesty’s Regional Prison on the outskirts of Roebourne as it stands today was built in 1896, upgraded from an older four cell gaol first built in 1884

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Butchers Inlet Land-backed Wharf

Butcher’s Inlet: Land-Backed Wharf – Completed in 1894 this stone wharf is a reminder of Cossack’s importance to the North West as a major port. It consisted of a concrete quay wall with accommodation for two schooners. The inlet wsa named after Chief Officer Butcher, who served under Captain Jarman on the Tien Tsin which landed at Cossack with the first settlers in 1863.

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Galbraith's Store

Galbraith’s Store – While earlier stone buildings in Cossack were built of sandstone collected from the beachfront, Galbraith’s Store is unique in that it was the first building to be constructed of local ironstone (or bluestone). Completed in 1891, it wsa used for the storage and sale of general suplies.

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Mercantile Store

Mercantile Store – Built around 1895, this store is one of several stone buildings constructed during Cossack’s heyday as the North West’s major port. It originally housed the Mining Registrar’s Office and quarters, but later it became the Mercantile Store which sold goods and equipment.

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Jarman Island - Readers Head Lookout

Jarman Island – Readers Head Lookout Brown Sign link – This island is named after Captain Jarman of the barque Tien Tsin, which carried the first settlers here in 1863. The lighthouse and quarters were constructed in 1888 to provide greater safety to ships using the Cossack port. The lighthouse wsa built with prison labour, using preformed cast iron sections from England.

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Schoolhouse

Schoolhouse Brown Sign link – Completed in 1898 this schoolhouse replaced an earlier one destroyed by a willy-willy in 1894. While the new school was being built parents sent their children on the horse-drawn tram to Roebourne each day for schooling. The building is of a standard design of the period and was used successfully around the State.

Emma Withnell Heritage Trail - Tien Tsin Lookout

Tien Tsin Lookout Brown Sign link – This lookout takes its name from the barque ‘Tien Tsin’, which brought pastoralist Walter Padbury to this harbour in 1863. Padbury’s settlement on the banks of the De Grey River, was the first pastoral enterprise in the North West. The town which developed around his landing place wsa originally called Tien Tsin, but was renamed Cossack in 1871.

Tombstone mark of respect for William Shakespeare Hall in Cossack Cemetery

Cemetery Brown Sign link

Grave sites in the Asian Cemetery in Cossack

Asian Cemetery Brown Sign link

View over Settlers Beach at Cossack in Western Australia

Settlers Beach Brown Sign link


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