Vic to be local hub
The indigenous owners of Roebourne’s Victoria Hotel aim to begin redevelopment of the historic premises into a community hub mid-year.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Michael Woodley said work on the development phase would begin early this year after successfully securing Federal Government funding in December.
Mr Woodley said with prices in the region dropping, the project could cost less than anticipated.
“The idea is to be a retail outlet for local business in the tourism market, to lease out office space and to also look into having a café,” he said. “We will be reassessing our plans to make sure we don’t compete with other local businesses.
“We’re going to put the challenge out to the builders to find some innovative ways to make sure the complex looks good outside and in without taking too much away from the history.”
Mr Woodley said reconstruction of the old awning outside the building was on the cards.
The City of Karratha has expressed a desire to have the Roebourne Visitor Centre moved into the building from 2019. RVC chairman Bruce Jorgenson said moving from the current site would be beneficial. Ultimately we would like to see the gaol to be used in its entirety as a museum, and relocate the retail/office section of the RVC to a separate building,” he said.
“Space at the Victoria Hotel is one of many options that has been explored.”
The hotel has made history locally and nationwide, and not always for the right reasons.
In 1983, 16-year-old indigenous man John Pat was allegedly involved in a fight with Roebourne police officers outside the hotel.
He died in police lock-up as a result of head injuries sustained in the altercation, sparking the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
It was also gained the first public licence in the North West and was the first two-storey building in Roebourne.
A long line of misfortune for the local indigenous population, partially attributed to alcohol, led to its closure in 2005, making Roebourne the first dry town in WA.
The $2 million injection from the National Stronger Regions Fund announced in December follows additional funding from the Pilbara Development Commission’s Economic Diversification Fund and the Yindjibarndi Trust.