A port on the shores of King Sound in north-western Western Australia about 1,730 km by road from Perth, Dampier (1996 population: 2,801) was built to load iron ore obtained at Mount Tom Price and Paraburdoo. A 293 km-long railway was laid between Dampier and Mount Tom Price in the south and it was later extended a farther 84 km in a south-easterly direction to reach the ore deposits in Paraburdoo.
The first ore was shipped from Dampier in August 1966, and by 1972 the port had been extended to accommodate iron ore carriers of 150,000 tonnes. A pelletising plant was also built at Dampier and a new town, Karratha, 19km away, was built in 1971 to house mining company employees. A solar salt-evaporation area has also been established near the port.
Because Dampier and its dormitory town were built in an arid region, it was necessary to build a desalination plant fed by sea water at a cost of $750,000. All houses, flats and offices are air-conditioned. The port was named after William Dampier who sailed near there in 1688.