inHerit Logo

Enderby Island


City of Karratha

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Mermaid Strait Dampier Archipelago

Location Details

Other Name(s)

Dampier Archipelago
Dampier Archipelago Marine Area

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1850

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Register of the National Estate Indicative Place

Heritage Council
Municipal Inventory Adopted 13 May 1996

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The significance of the Enderby Island burial is of one of potentially a group of up to five burials predating the colonisation of the Northwest. The likely association with American whaling suggests an extraordinarily rare site type for Australasia. The rock art is extremely significant evidence for forms of pre-colonial culture contacts.
The remains of the shipwreck Sedjatra represent a local historical event, one of only several known twentieth century wrecks in the Dampier Archipelago.

Physical Description

Enderby Island is a large island situated in the Dampier Archipelago. The listed site includes the remains of at least one historic burial and one shipwreck on a headland and cove on the northwest coastline of the island.
The burial is located on a stony beach platform just above the high tide mark. The platform faces towards the northeast. There is one grave made of stone and coral, with a grave marker of bone (presumably of a large marine mammal). The grave is being used as a nest for large bird, possible an eagle. There are several mounds of stone in circular rings which may have been burials now eroded, or shelters. There are also at least 10 engraved stones near the grave, depicting a whale, a squid, anthropomorphs, and other motifs.
The remains of the hull of a vessel were reported at a nearby cove. These were visible in 2004, but not in 2012. They were on the beach near a small creek cutting through the costal dune. In 2004 the hull remains consisted of three timber ribs. This is assumed to be the wreck of the Sedjarta (wrecked 1944).
In the cove closer to the burial there were elements of ship’s timbers located on the beach at the edge of a small creek gully. These may either be elements of the Sedjarta, or from another vessel currently unknown.


In September 1851 Lieut Helpman of the Saucy Jack reported three graves, tracks of Aborigines, a recently dug well and whale bones on a beach. His assumption was that the graves were of whalers. This was much earlier than the establishment of a colonial shore based whaling station on Malus Island in the 1870s. American whalers, however, have been visiting the Dampier Archipelago and the coastal northwest since the early part of the 1800s. In 1801 the whaler Kingston arrived at the ‘Rosemary Islands’ as they were sometimes referred following Dampier (KWM logbook 263). In the 1840s log books from several American whalers suggest the islands were suitable for several months of whaling and that these were reliable waters for whales. The description then of whale bones and graves is potential evidence of whaling and of the treatment of the dead. The relationship of the engravings to the graves is enigmatic – most appear to be Aboriginal, although a singular whale motif is less convincing.
In March 1879 Pemberton Walcott of the Gertrude found five graves built of stone and felt that these were whalers’ burials at least 20 years old.


The historical descriptions suggest that the one grave now present was once accompanied by at least four more graves. The associated raised mounds were therefore possibly graves, since disturbed in this very active coastal environment.
The remains of the ships timbers in two locations suggest either a single vessel, or two separate events. The record of the wreck of the Sedjarta, a 30 ton motor yacht, suggests that this is the most likely candidate for the timber frames visible in 2004.
Aboriginal archaeology:
The engravings on small stone near the grave reveal a historic Aboriginal presence and perhaps knowledge of the activities of the whalers.
The western extent of the island is a Registered Aboriginal Site (Engravings), DAA Site ID 11820.
Enderby Island has many Aboriginal sites including petroglyphs, fish traps, hides and quarries.


Only some elements of grave intact. Site exposed to coastal conditions and nesting birds.
Shipwreck consists of timber elements only, often obscured by sand.

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
2310 Dampier Archipelago Historic Sites Survey 1979 Report 1979
7647 Cultural heritage assessment and management proposal for historical archaeological sites : Dampier archipelago, Western Australia. Heritage Study {Other} 2004

Place Type



Epoch General Specific
Present Use PARK\RESERVE Park\Reserve

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

18 Jun 1997

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

31 Dec 2016


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.