History and Heritage

History of the Shire

The West Pilbara Shire Council was formed in 1972 by an amalgamation of the Shires of Ashburton and Tableland. The Council's first meeting convened at Onslow on June 8, 1972.

The name "Shire of West Pilbara" was later changed to "Shire of Ashburton" on December 18, 1987 one hundred years after the establishment of the former Ashburton Road Board.

The name was changed to provide more identity to our particular region and to discriminate from the Karratha region, which is also referred to as the "West Pilbara".

The Ashburton River runs through the lower portion of the region, and the Shire includes four established townsites: Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Onslow and Pannawonica.

It was decided to move the administration office from Onslow to the more centrally located town of Tom Price in January 1990, when the Shire's administration office was officially opened in Poinciana Street.

Subsidiary offices are located in Onslow and Paraburdoo, and while Pannawonica does not have a sub-office of the Shire, the Pannawonica Library can respond to most enquiries.


The Shire of Ashburton has a rich and varied heritage, which is present in many forms such as landmarks, buildings, objects, cultural landscapes and the stories and traditions associated with them.

This heritage is an important asset as it contributes to the cultural identity of the community; it provides a link to the past allowing us to understand the history of where we have come from; and contributes to the richness of the environment.

The identification and protection of local heritage assets is required under State legislation to ensure that these places are appropriately managed for the benefit of future generations.

In 2016, the Shire commenced a review of its Municipal Heritage Inventory (now known as a Local Government Heritage Inventory or LGHI) to meet statutory obligations and to ensure information  relating to places of heritage value in the district were up-to-date and thorough.

View our Municipal Heritage Inventory.

Old Onslow Cemetery Conservation Management Plan 2018