Help cel­e­brate Roe­bourne’s past

Pilbara News - - Pilbara Opinion - Peter Long

■ On Au­gust 17, 1866, Roe­bourne be­came the first gazetted town in the North West of WA.

That makes it 150 years old next year and we are de­ter­mined to cel­e­brate this ma­jor mile­stone prop­erly.

Roe­bourne’s long history is colour­ful.

The first Euro­peant set­tler was Wal­ter Pad­bury, who ar­rived in 1863 on the Tien Tsin. Oth­ers, now recog­nised in street names in the City, fol­lowed — Wel­lard, With­nell, Richard­son, Hall.

Life was hard and th­ese set­tlers landed dur­ing a drought.

A small­pox epi­demic broke out in 1866, with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

With sa­cred sites des­e­crated and the set­tlers tak­ing con­trol of wa­ter re­sources and hunt­ing grounds — not to men­tion the use of un­free labour — ten­sions be­tween Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and squat­ters grew. Con­flict soon es­ca­lated to violence with the Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre in 1868.

Pearling was taken up by pas­toral­ists to sup­ple­ment their in­come and many Malay, Ja­panese and Abo­rig­i­nal divers called the area home at that time.

The recorded pop­u­la­tion of Roe­bourne in 1877 was “428 whites, 78 women, over 600 Abo­rig­i­nal work­ers, in­clud­ing sta­tion hands, al­most 1000 Asians”.

Gold from Nul­lagine, cop­per from Whim Creek and tin mines con­trib­uted to Roe­bourne’s pros­per­ity in the 1880s and 1890s.

Then in the 1960s, iron ore changed the re­gion for ever.

We would like to cap­ture some of this di­verse history for the 150th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions next year.

If you have any ideas, con­tact us to en­sure we mark this mile­stone in the best way pos­si­ble.

Jar­rad Tay­lor got this great shot of a res­i­dent rep­tile on a trip out to Deep­dale Gorge re­cently.

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