Black Rock Stakes Sculpture – Port Hedland, Australia - Atlas Obscura
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Port Hedland, Australia

Black Rock Stakes Sculpture

This sculpture honors the legacy of Australia's now-defunct, Black Rock Stakes wheelbarrow race.  

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This sculpture stands in honor of a wheelbarrow relay race that grew out of the mining industry and was also destroyed by it. 

The race was the brainchild of a few miners during the late 1960s, although the first official race didn’t take place until 1971. The starting point for the race was in Pilbara’s first iron ore mining town, Goldsworthy. Teams of racers would alternate pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with 24 pounds (11 kilos) of iron ore, after jumping from a moving truck that followed the runners. It was a bizarre relay race that covered 74 miles (119 kilometers) to Port Hedland’s ore loading facility.

The race was used to raise funds for local charities. Over the years, various community groups were allowed to receive some of the funds from the race. It’s estimated the race raised well over $1 million during its heyday. 

Participating teams would have quirky names such as, the “Dampier Salt Shakers” or the “Pilbara Pushers” (two of the biggest rivals over the course of the competition). Eventually, various heats were formed, with children and women participating as well. 

Eventually, the race became difficult to conduct in accordance with new safety regulations being implemented across the region. As mining in the area boomed around 2002 and 2010, more and more trucks traveled along the road where the race was held, jeopardizing the racers. With runners jumping from a truck traveling at 18 miles per hour (20 kilometers), coupled with ever-increasing traffic along the route, the race became too dangerous for competitors and spectators. It officially ended in 2010.

Know Before You Go

Located behind the visitors' center, across from the Courthouse Gallery & Studio.

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