August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
John Elliott

Zainal Alpin


I’ve lived in Port Hedland for 32 years. First when I come from the Cocos Islands I stayed in Geraldton for five years, working there for a couple, then I moved here with my brother. Hedland is the same as Cocos, we can go out and have a look at the sea, at the waves moving and we catch the same type of fish. I left Cocos in 1977. They told us if you want to have a fridge and freezer you have to go out from Cocos. The power only comes until 12 o’clock at night, so we had to use the small light with the oil. In Cocos we didn’t have any car, no motorbike, we use our body, walking here, running there. We didn’t have any freezer, nothing, every evening we go to get our own fish. Fish and rice, that’s all we have. 

Between 1970–75 we started coming from the Cocos Islands, most go to Katanning, some to Perth, some to Geraldton, and some come to Port Hedland. I did some work as a carpenter, some as a cleaner, gardening, that sort of work. I miss Cocos a lot; I’ve gone back seven times to visit my father. I’m now 56, my Dad is nearly 82.
I fly from Hedland to Perth and then to Cocos- it’s nearly four and half hours. It would be much shorter if you could go straight from Hedland.

My kids have grown up here, all nice and good, all healthy. In Hedland it’s been a good life, although I know it’s hot. Many people come from Thailand, Phillipines, and China, lots of people.  Some Cocos families have moved away, they’ve gone everywhere. I also built a house in Geraldton and I’ll move down there. When we wake up we can still see the ocean.

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