Big tourist plans for his­toric old coast town

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

For many years a Pil­bara ghost town, Cos­sack could soon be­come a thriv­ing tourist des­ti­na­tion show­cas­ing life in the early days of the North West un­der a se­ries of imag­i­na­tive plans to re­ju­ve­nate the area.

Man­age­ment and pro­mo­tion of the Cos­sack his­tor­i­cal town site is set to be trans­ferred from the City of Kar­ratha to the Roe­bourne based not-for-profit Ngar­luma Yind­jibarndi Foun­da­tion Ltd from July 1 af­ter it was se­lected as the pre­ferred ten­derer at a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing last week, tak­ing over from years of City-con­tracted care­tak­ers in the role.

NYFL chief ex­ec­u­tive Bruce Jor­gen­son said their vi­sion for the his­toric town in­cluded trans­form­ing it into a North West tourist at­trac­tion, cen­ter­ing on the con­cept of a Cos­sack Liv­ing Her­itage Vil­lage which would bring the town to life as it was in the 1880s.

The pro­posal, for which plans are un­der way, would in­clude his­tor­i­cal re-en­act­ments per­formed by ac­tors in pe­riod cos­tume, overnight stays in the town’s old jail, the in­tro­duc­tion of an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig pro­gram and build­ing on­site a replica of an orig­i­nal pear--

ling lug­ger which once op­er­ated in Cos­sack wa­ters.

Other ini­tia­tives would in­clude in­tro­duc­ing guided tours, bas­ing Clin­ton Walker’s Ngur­rangga Tours busi­ness in the town, es­tab­lish­ing an artist-in-res­i­dence and craft work­shops pro­gram, and cre­at­ing a sep­a­rate Cos­sack events cal­en­dar.

Whim Creek Ho­tel man­ager Bob Bon­giorno, who has been be­hind the his­toric pub’s re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion into a Pil­bara events des­ti­na­tion in the past few years, is ex­pected to take over as the NYFL Cos­sack site man­ager.

Mr Jor­gen­son said Cos­sack was “prob­a­bly one of the most im­por­tant his­toric towns for the State of WA” as the first port es­tab­lished north of Perth and the or­gan­i­sa­tion was keen to de­velop its tourism and re­cre­ation po­ten­tial.

“I think it’s un­der-utilised for short-stay ac­com­mo­da­tion and for events, and one of the first things we want to do is start the cafe back up on the week­end,” he said.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful place and it should be en­joyed more than it is. At the mo­ment peo­ple stop there for about an hour, look around at the old build­ings and drive off.”

The City has re­ceived in-prin­ci­ple sup­port for an ex­ten­sion of their Her­itage Coun­cil WA lease over Cos­sack, which ex­pires on June 30 this year and is presently in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said Cos­sack was a “muchloved” des­ti­na­tion for res­i­dents and tourists but needed greater pro­mo­tion to be­come the tourist at­trac­tion it could be, which was a role NYFL was well-placed to do from its ex­pe­ri­ence man­ag­ing sim­i­lar op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing the Whim Creek Ho­tel.

“While this model is ef­fec­tive at an op­er­a­tional level, the care­taker ar­range­ment does not ex­tend to pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing or the ex­pan­sion or de­vel­op­ment of ser­vices in the precinct,” he said.

“Hav­ing a ded­i­cated op­er­a­tor in place will en­sure the suc­cess­ful care­tak­ing func­tion at Cos­sack is main­tained but will also pro­mote vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences in this his­toric town.”

Mr Jor­gen­son said Cos­sack was a cul­tur­ally im­por­tant area for the the Ngar­luma and Yind­jibarndi peo­ple and the an­tic­i­pated con­tract would pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties for the NYFL’s main func­tion of se­cur­ing sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment for its mem­bers.

It’s a beau­ti­ful place and it should be en­joyed more than it is. Bruce Jor­gen­son

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