The fortunes of Western Australia’s northernmost town are looking up, with jobs and population on the rise.

Story By Chris Pritchard

Wyndham prides itself on being a hotspot – literally – with Australia’s highest annual average temperatures. Although it isn’t the eastern Kimberley’s highest-profile town, it is the region’s oldest, with 127 years on the clock. Pioneers, lured by a late-1800s gold rush, mostly moved elsewhere when fortune seeking fizzled. Historic buildings cluster in port environs including the boarded-up general store, outfitter and tailoring shop of Lee Tong, prominent in a significant Chinese community that has now shrunk to 12. Tong’s descendants still live inside the shop.
Locals swear the shopkeeper’s wife took only a half-day making meatworkers’ suits. The meatworks closed 28 years ago and Wyndham slid into sharp decline. Now its fortunes are again looking up. The population is growing and jobs are increasing at the port, in mines and in the service sector, including tourism.
“Wyndham’s on a roll,” says Terry White, who with his partner Anne Jongedyk owns Parry Creek Farm Tourist Resort, a 52-hectare enclave within Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve. “The town withered – but recovered.”
“The port has become livelier,” Anne says. “Besides cattle exports to Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia, we now have iron ore and nickel shipments and more cruise ships.” In the reserve, Marlgu billabong – with water’s-edge bird hide – attracts many avian species including spoonbills, swamphens, egrets, magpie geese, brolgas and ducks. Some birds fly here annually from Siberia.

This story excerpt is from Issue #92

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2014