Shire of AshburtonCommunity profile

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Onslow and western districts

About the profile areas

The 2016 Estimated Resident Population for Onslow and western districts is 4,938, with a population density of 0.00 persons per hectare.

Location and boundaries

Onslow - Rural West is bounded by the Shire of Roebourne in the north, the localities of Chichester, Mount Sheila, Rocklea and Paraburdoo in the east, the Shires of Upper Gascoyne and Carnarvon in the south, and the Shire of Exmouth and the Indian Ocean in the west.

Name origin

Onslow is named after Sir Alexander Campbell Onslow, Attorney General of Western Australia in the late 1800s.

Settlement history

Settlement of the area dates from the 1860s, with land used mainly for cattle and sheep grazing. Onslow was established as a coastal port in 1885 to service pastoral, fishing and pearling industries. The Onslow townsite was moved about 15 kilometres north-east in the 1920s when a new deep water jetty was constructed. Onslow developed to service the expanding energy industries, with oil and gas production from the 1960s, and salt production from the late 1990s. The small inland township of Pannawonica was established in 1970 to house the workforce and families of the nearby Robe River Iron (now Rio Tinto) mines. The population declined slightly during the 1990s, and then increased rapidly between 2001 and 2011. Growth was largely due to the expansion of mining industries, including salt processing and off shore oil and gas production. Population growth is expected to continue, largely spurred by industrial and residential development in Onslow and to a lesser extent Pannawonica, and the construction of two new large gas plants.

Land use

Onslow - Rural West is a mostly rural area, with a coastal township at Onslow, and a smaller inland township at Pannawonica. The main industries are pastoral (beef and sheep), oil and gas mining, and salt production. Fishing and tourism are also important industries.

Major features

Major features of the area include Millstream Chichester National Park (including Python Pool and Millstream Homestead Visitor Centre), Cane River Conservation Park, Barlee Range Nature Reserve, Onslow Town Centre, Onslow Hospital, Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, Goods Shed Museum, Thalanyji Oval, Beadon Creek Groyne, Onslow Community Resource Centre, Ian Blair Memorial Boardwalk, Onslow Airport and two schools.

Included areas

This small area encompasses the localities of Cane, Fortescue, Hamersley Range, Innawanga, Millstream, Nanutarra, Onslow, Pannawonica, Peedamulla, Talandji and Yannarie.