Abbe and I are off to Cossack, WA in the middle of June to conduct a weekend ‘Travel Writing and Photography Course.’ Neither of us has been to Cossack before, though we went to Karratha a few years back when we on assignment for The Rio Tinto Future Fund. So Cossack will be a new and interesting experience; apparently it’s an artistic community with a number of restored buildings listed by the National Trust. Back in the day it was a thriving centre of the pearl diving industry but its heyday as a small town only lasted for about forty years before, shortly after the turn of last century, the industry moved up the coast to Broome.
But what interests me is the name. Why Cossack? I mean, the place is about a million miles from the steppes of Central Asia, which is where the Cossacks came from. Well, okay, maybe not a million miles… but certainly about eight thousand. So how did a small pearl fishing town on the cost of WA come to be named after the much feared Russian light cavalry?
Well… it turns out that the town was named after a corvette of the British Royal Navy, HMS Cossack, which had brought the then Governor General of WA, Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, to the place for a visit. Why they didn’t call the town Frederick or Weld (I can see why they didn’t think of Aloysius) puzzles me. But there you have it – that’s why it’s called Cossack. More about the gig there later.