Stan Hilditch would be impressed. It was in 1957 that this humble prospector discovered a large mineral deposit near Mount Newman in the West Australian Pilbara region. Hilditch was looking for manganese, but what he found was iron ore – lots of it!
Today, Newman is home to the largest open-cut iron ore mine in the world. You might know it as BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine and it measures a staggering 5.5km in length.
Not surprisingly, there are a few miners around. The town of Mt Newman was created in the late 1960s when the Mt Newman Mining Co began shipping iron ore from Port Hedland, 426km away by rail. Today, Newman (as it's now known) has grown to 7000 people, servicing both the Mt Whaleback mine and smaller nearby mines plus a FIFO workforce numbering around 4000.
As the Newman website tells it, the town was actually 'sold' to the Shire of East Pilbara for $1 back in 1981. By all accounts, it was a good investment, with the population steadily growing and services increasing.
A few quick facts:
The local Martu people have had a relationship with the land for some 26,000 years. After being removed to settlements last century, they have slowly begun moving back into their traditional lands. In 2002, they were officially granted land rights to 136,000 square kilometres of land east of Newman.
The Newman Visitor Centre website is a great little site offering everything you need to know. Make sure you check it out if you’re considering a move or taking up FIFO work.
"Newman - lived there for almost four years. My one piece of advice for anyone looking to move there ... the scenery is fantastic, but if you have school-aged kids and value a good education, no amount of money is worth losing it by moving to Newman."
"Newman is a very busy little place. It has all the necessary shops etc for a town of this size and some public amenities like a public pool etc as well. Good activities outside of the working life, like camping and visiting national parks in the area."
- Glenn, Newman
Ever lived in Newman? Tell the world...