Condon Landing is situated on Condon Creek between Port Hedland and Broome in the North West of Western Australia.
It is unlikely anyone touring W.A.'s north west would stumble across the old town site by accident as it requires a 50km drive along a particularly rutted dirt track through De Grey Station to find the place.
The general location is however a prized fishing and crabbing location with Pilbara fisher folk as it has two massive tides occurring on a daily basis.
Very little remains of the buildings in the area. The remnants of the telegraph office and a massive Oleander tree, quite out of place, sit to the western side of the creek and foundations of buildings and grave sites are reportedly found throughout the area.
Apparently the town originally existed as two entities Condon and Shellborough, with Condon becoming the more established name for the region.
Surveyed around 1872 as a site to support the Pearling industry it was reported as many as 80 Pearling luggers may have operated in the area.
Already operating as a sea terminal for the supply of pastoral and mining provisions, by 1887 Condon/Shellborough had a jetty, store, woolshed and stockyard and 2 years later the first town lots were sold and the telegraph office established.
Evidence suggests Condon had a light rail service with a horse drawn tram, a chemist, a teamster, 3 carriers, a blacksmith, 2 stores and 3 hotels.
It appears that Condons fortunes waned along with the pearling industry although it seems the jetty continued to be used by the neighbouring stations and the mining concerns inland.
Sarah Jude forwarded this piece of information regarding her grandfather's grave -
"My grandpa's great uncle grave still stand in Condon. Name Tracey Peter Powles, Passed away in 1893. We are actually trying to get better fencing around the grave to protect it and the history."
And Jennie Towan was kind enough to send us the following extract from a letter her Grand Uncle William Harvey wrote to his sister in 1897 - he was on his way to Marble Bar to work
"Tuesday 30th (April 1897)
Well I’m on terra-firma again well pleased to have finished with the sea for a time, we had another mild gale just before the port of Condon was reached which of course upset me but have quite recovered.
Now a word about the port of Condon, it contains two hotels of course, and a telegraph station, which are practically the only places of note here, the type of civilisation is quite distinct from anything I have before seen and unfortunately is the lowest I have seen, I hope I do not become used to my surroundings.
Marble Bar and Nullagine are said to be considerably lower in every respect than this place, if such is the case, they will be queer places. Nature is seen in many strange moods here, a “Willy Willy” fairly demolished the town a few months ago,( I call it the town) the most curious thing that happened being a house blown to pieces, and a piano moved bodily two or three hundred yards, and so wrecked that the owner left it where the wind put it and there it remains a sort of monument of the force of wind.
The tides rise and fall about 30 feet so you may imagine the force with which the water runs in and out, the edge of the land is covered with mangroves and is marshy, from which millions of mosquitoes come at night, and by jove, they are poisonous, during the day of course flies make life a worry but that is accepted.
Mirage is seen all round, which of course indicates heat.
I don’t know if I will ever get out of this country again, I dream of places where one can gather dewy carnations and roses but I’m afraid visions will be my share.
Drink is the curse here, whatever one says or does, or thinks almost, must be prefaced by a drink.
It will be a long time before you get this as the mails do not travel very frequently, and when they do, very slowly, it will also be a long time before I get a letter from home as I shall not be in Marble Bar for some time.
The mosquitoes are in great force, they bite through clothes with ease, the bites itch fearfully, inland there are none so I won’t be troubled very long.
Templar, the man from whom I have taken the work rode to the ‘Bar on his bicycle and established a record, we fairly surprised the people here with our bikes, the trouble is when the teamsters get the worse for liquor they want to practice riding which is not good for the bikes."
This article is part of a project to record the history of ghost towns in Australia. If you can contribute any information about any of Australia's abandoned towns please use the 'CONTACTUS' link at the top of the page to send us an email.
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