Onslow, Western Australia

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Onslow
Western Australia
Onslow, Western Australia 2.JPG
Salt mine near Onslow
Onslow is located in Western Australia
Onslow
Onslow
Coordinates21°38′00″S 115°07′00″E / 21.63333°S 115.11667°E / -21.63333; 115.11667Coordinates: 21°38′00″S 115°07′00″E / 21.63333°S 115.11667°E / -21.63333; 115.11667
Population667 (2011)[1]
Established1885 (1925 moved)
Postcode(s)6710
Location
LGA(s)Shire of Ashburton
State electorate(s)North West
Federal Division(s)Durack
 
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Onslow
Western Australia
Onslow, Western Australia 2.JPG
Salt mine near Onslow
Onslow is located in Western Australia
Onslow
Onslow
Coordinates21°38′00″S 115°07′00″E / 21.63333°S 115.11667°E / -21.63333; 115.11667Coordinates: 21°38′00″S 115°07′00″E / 21.63333°S 115.11667°E / -21.63333; 115.11667
Population667 (2011)[1]
Established1885 (1925 moved)
Postcode(s)6710
Location
LGA(s)Shire of Ashburton
State electorate(s)North West
Federal Division(s)Durack

Onslow is a coastal town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 1,386 kilometres (861 mi) north of Perth. It has a population of 667 people and is in the Shire of Ashburton local government area.[1]

History[edit]

Onslow was gazetted on 3 November 1885 as a town to serve the port at Ashburton Roads, at the mouth of the Ashburton River, exporting wool from sheep stations of the Pilbara hinterland. It was named after the then Chief Justice of Western Australia, Sir Alexander Onslow (1842–1908).[2][3]

Wool continued to be the major industry for the next eighty years, despite the extraordinary extremes of drought and flood that characterize the region and are related to the passage or absence of cyclones. For instance, whereas in 1912 Onslow received only 14.8 millimetres (0.58 in) of rainfall and in 1935 and 1936 combined only 120 millimetres (4.7 in), between late January and early March 1961 three cyclones smashed into the town and gave it 900 millimetres (35.4 in) in five weeks.

Although a large jetty was built at the original site of Onslow (Old Onslow), repeated cyclone damage and the silting up of the river causing increasing problems with the loading and unloading of visiting ships, with cargo transferred by lighter from the ship in Ashburton Roads to the jetty, then by horse-tram from the jetty across 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of marshland inland to the town, led the state government in 1923 to develop a new town and jetty 20 kilometres (12 mi) eastnortheast at Beadon Creek. The new townsite was gazetted on 10 January 1924, and the residents of Old Onslow moved across in 1925.[4][5] The new location for Onslow's jetty was better protected from storm damage with the townsite more conveniently located on the coast.[6]

On 15 May 1943, Onslow became the most southerly town in Australia to be bombed by the Japanese in World War 2, when a single plane bombed the airfield.[7] However, there was no damage or casualties.[7]

Since the war, the declining purchasing power of wool has, in spite of consistently good rainfall on the inland sheep stations since the late 1960s, led to a change in focus of Onslow's economy from wool to tourism. It is an access point for Coral Coast activities, such as scuba diving on the coral reefs offshore from the town.

Climate and weather[edit]

Climate data for Onslow
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)49.2
(120.6)
48.3
(118.9)
46.2
(115.2)
43.3
(109.9)
39.0
(102.2)
32.7
(90.9)
32.2
(90)
35.5
(95.9)
39.0
(102.2)
44.7
(112.5)
45.5
(113.9)
48.7
(119.7)
49.2
(120.6)
Average high °C (°F)35.7
(96.3)
35.5
(95.9)
35.4
(95.7)
33.2
(91.8)
28.9
(84)
25.5
(77.9)
24.8
(76.6)
26.6
(79.9)
29.1
(84.4)
31.7
(89.1)
33.8
(92.8)
35.2
(95.4)
31.3
(88.3)
Average low °C (°F)23.7
(74.7)
24.3
(75.7)
23.3
(73.9)
20.4
(68.7)
16.3
(61.3)
13.3
(55.9)
11.7
(53.1)
12.5
(54.5)
14.2
(57.6)
16.7
(62.1)
19.3
(66.7)
21.6
(70.9)
18.1
(64.6)
Record low °C (°F)16.6
(61.9)
15.1
(59.2)
16.9
(62.4)
10.9
(51.6)
8.9
(48)
3.1
(37.6)
4.6
(40.3)
5.4
(41.7)
7.9
(46.2)
8.9
(48)
12.9
(55.2)
15.6
(60.1)
3.1
(37.6)
Precipitation mm (inches)28.3
(1.114)
52.2
(2.055)
49.0
(1.929)
20.1
(0.791)
45.5
(1.791)
44.2
(1.74)
18.4
(0.724)
8.6
(0.339)
1.3
(0.051)
0.8
(0.031)
1.5
(0.059)
5.3
(0.209)
275.8
(10.858)
Source: [8]

A major long-term drought between 1935 and 1941, during which time only one cyclone hit (in April 1937) and did not produce rain on the inland sheep stations, led to a decline in Onslow's fortunes.

A kangaroo in the ruins of Old Onslow

Cyclones[edit]

Numerous cyclones have impacted Onslow over the years, the first of which occurred in 1880.[9] On 28 March 1934, a severe cyclone hit the town, with the new jetty nearly completely destroyed. All the buildings suffered damage, with some completely destroyed.[9] Another severe cyclone crossed the coast at Onslow on 7 February 1963, damaging nearly every building in town. Wind gusts of 231 km/h were recorded.[9] On 19 February 1975, Severe Tropical Cyclone Trixie crossed the coast near Onslow, with the cyclone's centre passing directly over nearby Mardie.[9] A wind gust of 246 km/h were recorded at Onslow, whilst wind gusts of 259 km/h at Mardie (This was the limit of the recorder, so the gusts at Mardie may have been higher).[9][10] At the time, the wind gust recorded at Onslow was the highest recorded in Australia.[9][11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Onslow (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Government Gazette". The Inquirer & Commercial News. 4 November 1885. p. 3. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013. 
  3. ^ "A trip to the Ashburton". The West Australian. 12 August 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013. 
  4. ^ "Onslow - Western Australia". WANowandThen.com. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Historical Towns Directory". Australian Heritage. Heritage Australia Publishing. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Jabyn (12 July 1923). "Beadon - The New North-West Port". The Western Mail. p. 42. Retrieved 1 Nov 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "History - Shire of Ashburton". Shire of Ashburton. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Climate Statistics for Onslow". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Tropical Cyclones Affecting Onslow". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "TC Trixie Report" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. p. 4. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "TC Trixie Report" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. p. 1. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]