Vic to be lo­cal hub

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

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