May 2017

May 8, 2017

PDC welcomes new Minister

Minister MacTiernan met with communities in Karratha and Port Hedland on her first major visit to the Pilbara as Regional Development Minister last month.

The whirlwind two-day regional tour included meetings with local Governments, local Aboriginal elders and visits to art groups. The Minister also visited the new glass art studio at the Cheeditha Community where she put her artistic talents and designed a decorative glass plate. Read more about the glass studio project and how it’s supporting a remote community to find financial independence here.

The Pilbara Development Commission welcomed the new Minister on her visit to the region where she also spoke at community forums in Port Hedland and Karratha. The forums gave community and business leaders with an opportunity to hear the new government’s plan for the Pilbara.

“The Commission was pleased to meet with the Minister on her visit to the region."

"The Pilbara is an important economic contributor to the state, and the Commission will continue to work to unlock the region’s potential in under-developed industries such as agriculture, aquaculture and renewable energy,” Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said.

The Minister left the region promising to be back for Cossack Art Awards in July and to learn more about the ancient Aboriginal rock art in Murujuga National Park.

Red Dog legacy lives on

Red Dog’s role as the Pilbara’s tourism icon continues with a special featurette produced for the DVD release promoting the region’s unique landscapes.

The Pilbara is known for its resource wealth and big-scale industry, but the featurette reveals there is much more to the region.

Featuring interviews with actors and production crew, the featurette provides a never-before-seen insight into what some of the 65 cast and crew members discovered while living in the Pilbara for up to three months during production.

In the featurette, film Director Kriv Stenders remarks, “It is so striking, so cinematic, so evocative, it’s just a great stage on which to set our story.”

Actor and star of the Red Dog prequel, Bryan Brown, was captured by the region’s unique landscape.

“I don’t know whether it’s romantic, or mythical, or what it is; but it’s very beautiful,” he said.

The film crew made the most of their stay in Karratha during filming in 2015, with visits to Millstream-Chichester National Park, Roebourne and Point Samson, as well as local beaches and cafes. They also attended a Ballet on the Beach performance, joined an Aboriginal rock art tour with Ngurrangga Tours and explored some of the 42 islands that make up the Dampier Archipelago with Discovery Sailing.

The Red Dog: True Blue DVD is set to be released in June 2017. The original Red Dog film is the highest selling Australia DVD of all time.

The film was distributed by Roadshow Films and was funded with the assistance of the State Government through Screenwest and the Pilbara Development Commission, and also supported by Screen Australia, Woodside and Rio Tinto.

Activating our national parks

The Commission visited the region’s major National Parks to explore tourism activation projects in March.

The visit is part of the implementation of the Commission’s Tourism 2020 strategy, which was developed in partnership with key stakeholders earlier this year. Key priorities under the strategy include activating Karijini and Millstream-Chichester National Parks, with the aim of increasing visitors and their length of stay in the region.

The strategy was developed in alignment with the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, which identifies tourism as a transformational opportunity for the region.

The Commission, Department of Parks and Wildlife and Tourism Western Australia took part in a site visit to review projects that have the potential to activate the National Parks, and to agree on a plan moving forward.

Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the Pilbara was home to world class tourism assets that present an exciting opportunity to build a sustainable tourism industry, and deliver long term economic benefits to the region.

“Sealing roads, refurbishing existing infrastructure, establishing new activities and accommodation options at Karijini and Millstream-Chichester National Parks are potential projects we are currently looking at in detail,” Mr Hill said.

“Delivering these projects has the potential to draw tens of thousands of new visitors each year into the Parks, with positive flow on effects to nearby towns.”

Opportunities abound in Onslow

Business After Hours, Board meetings and bus tours through Wheatstone; it was all happening in Onslow last month.

The Pilbara Development Commission Board held its April meeting in Onslow, taking the opportunity to also tour the Chevron-operated Wheatstone LNG project, and meet with local business and community members at a Business After Hours.

The networking function, hosted by the Commission in partnership with Horizon Power, was attended by more than 50 local business and community members, providing an opportunity for locals to meet and discuss regional development issues and opportunities.

The Commission Chairman Chris Gilmour addressed the crowd, highlighting the value of regional chambers of commerce for small business support.

“It’s been fantastic to see the rapid growth of the Onslow Chamber of Commerce into the professional, influential and highly-regarded organisation it is today, representing more than 100 members,” Mr Gilmour said.

Mr Gilmour also took the opportunity to announce a new partnership with the Onslow, Karratha and Port Hedland Chambers of Commerce.

“The growth of small businesses is important to the future of the region. We are committed to continuing to support the Chambers, and most importantly, supporting small business owners in the Pilbara,” Mr Gilmour said.

Mr Gilmour also thanked Geoff Herbert for his valuable contribution and strong leadership during his time as President of the Onslow CCI.

Event co-hosts, Horizon Power, presented an update on the progress of the Pilbara Underground Power Project, as well as an energy upgrade project which includes the construction of a new power station, sub-station and proposed solar farm.

New glass art enterprise

Cheeditha artists showcased their skills in fusing, shaping and forming glass into wearable and decorative works of art for the Minister for Regional Development on a visit to their art studio last Friday, 28 April.

Since installation of a new kiln in December, the Cheeditha Art Group now has eight practicing glass artists who have created more than 60 distinctive pieces for sale at markets and local retail outlets.

“We will soon launch our first creative workshops through the Cossack Art Awards Cultural Program where anyone will be able to come along and learn the of glass art making techniques,” Cheeditha Community Manager Carrie McDowell said.

“The grant through the Pilbara Development Commission provided us with the support we needed to establish an art glass enterprise, something the community is very passionate and excited about.”

Glass was selected as an alternative creative medium to painting to enable the artists to reach new markets while still offering a means of cultural expression.

“It is good to learn different ways to make art, we like glass because it is different. It is good for us at Cheeditha to have the glass here so we can help make the community stronger,” Cheeditha artist Kaye Warrie said.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said this was a great example of community-led project that is making a difference.

“The launch of the art glass studio has created new employment opportunities and given community members a new level of financial independence, which is a fantastic outcome for the region,” Mr Hill said.

Cheeditha Art Glass products are currently available to purchase from the Karratha and Roebourne Visitors Centres.

The Cheeditha Art Glass Enterprise was supported through the Pilbara Community Chest Fund, administered by the Pilbara Development Commission.

Innovation Corner: New mapping tool informs regional planning

Determining future prospects for the Pilbara presents a range of challenges; but the use of an innovative mapping tool called ALCES is bringing us a step closer to unlocking the region’s potential.

By bringing together interactive layers of maps that identify everything from rainfall and vegetation to infrastructure and population, ALCES models the characteristics of an area of land based on search criteria.

The Commission has purchased a license for the software and is currently using it to determine optimal site selection for new industries such as aquaculture and renewable solar energy.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the tool has provided valuable insights into location specific conditions for proposed projects.

“We have a project team working on a subsea cable feasibility study who were able to use ALCES to identify the best possible locations for a solar farm by modelling a number of factors such as rainfall, proximity to infrastructure and elevation,” Mr Hill said.

“This tool provides us with new intelligence that will allow us to make informed decisions for site identification for new industries.”

ALCES also has the ability to run scenarios to provide insights into the effects that changes in conditions, such as population, would create.

“Informed decision making is key to regional development planning and ensuring successful outcomes,” Mr Hill said.

“We welcome organisations with economic development projects to contact the Commission and find out whether an ALCES analysis would assist in building a business case.”

For more information about ALCES contact Manager Strategy & Knowledge Justin Fromm on 08 6551 7500 or email

Behind the Commission: Industry development inspires strategy manager

From the farm to the boardroom, the Commission’s Strategy and Knowledge Manager Justin Fromm’s industry development career has taken him across the country from Tasmania to Canberra, and most recently Karratha.

Joining the Commission in 2014, Justin’s aquaculture expertise and experience has seen him become a passionate advocate for realising the potential for onshore and offshore fish farming in the Pilbara.

“My professional passion is in aquaculture,” Justin said.

“Australia, and particularly the Pilbara, has so much potential for further aquaculture development and I want to be part of unlocking that potential.”

Justin also leads the small-to-medium enterprise pillar of the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, and is currently completing the Commission’s SME development strategy for the region.

After three years in the Pilbara, Justin is still revelling in the warm summer evenings and the extensive mountain bike trails in the Karratha Hills.

“We have some of the most unique and challenging mountain biking trails right on our doorstep. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like a steep trail on slippery rocks with spinifex either side for ‘protection’.”

Justin is also strong presence in the AFL community, as the assistant coach of the Karratha Falcons and a founding member of Karratha’s first AFL Masters Team, the Mudcrabs.

“The Mudcrabs are proudly organising the inaugural AFL Masters 9’s Carnival to be held on the 14 and 15 July. We have attracted interest from Broome, Port Hedland, Newman, Tom Price and Pannawonica. We are really looking forward to hosting players from across the North West in Karratha and putting on an enjoyable event.”


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