Intriguing origins of town moniker

Julie ArifNorth West Telegraph

Many new people and visitors to Port Hedland wonder where we got our name from and many think it is just a misspelling of the word “headland”.

In fact, Port Hedland was named after Captain Peter Hedlund, a Swedish man who captained the Mystery and discovered what was to be known as Port Hedland.

Lars Peter Hedlund was born on March 14, 1829, in Hudiksvall, Sweden, about 300km north of Stockholm.

When he was 18, Mr Hedlund signed up to go to sea in the North Sea and around the Mediterranean.

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He arrived in Fremantle some time in the mid 1950s but there is no record of his arrival.

Mr Hedlund settled in Fremantle and married 18-year-old Ellen Adams two years later, and the Hedlunds went on to have nine children.

On June 11, 1859, Mr Hedlund’s name was on the list submitted by Fremantle Harbour Master, Lt J.Croke R.N. to the Colonial General as having passed examination for master mariner second class, which entitled him to command a vessel from Fremantle north-east of King George Sound, north of Sharks Bay. At some stage, the distinction between first and second class disappeared and this enabled him to travel up the North West coast.

By 1863, Mr Hedlund was the master of the Mystery, a 16.8-tonne cutter.

His biggest job to date was to take the cutter on a major expedition to the North West.

It was while exploring the coast here in April, 1863 he discovered what was to be known as Port Hedland. He died with a knife in the back. His body and boat were lost off the coast in 1881.

The book, The Story of Peter Hedland, has been researched and documented by a descendant of his, Bruce Hedland Thomas, and Inger Nemeth, and is available to purchase from the visitor centre and from the Dalgety House Museum.

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