© 2015 Taylor & Francis. The colonial Northwest of Western Australia was a harsh frontier, where demands for Aboriginal land, labour and knowledge led to dispossession, loss of rights, massacre and generations encumbered with the colonial legacy. In the Pilbara, there are some rare attempts to engage with this difficult colonial history, mainly in the form of heritage site interpretation and heritage trails. Overall, the difficult colonial history of the Northwest is poorly represented. Colonialism and its legacy are not effectively commemorated, nor are distinct local cultural and civic attributes highlighted as ‘lessons from the past’. In this paper, we explore the memorialization and commemoration of the Northwest's traumatic colonial history and consider a history of how heritage has been represented across the landscape. We suggest that the affective heritage of the Northwest especially cross-cultural or multi-cultural sites and histories can provide a basis for commemorating difficult colonial history or violent events that are underrepresented in dominant heritage regimes.