Church marks heritage role
Roebourne’s formal 150th anniversary celebrations came to an end on Sunday after a busy week of activities commemorating different aspects of the town’s rich history.
After opening speeches and the spectacular inter-cultural Tjaabi show, residents paid their respects to ancestors with a cemetery memorial day.
On Friday there was a town open day that welcomed visitors to Roebourne, while on Saturday a free community day was held with live music, food and market stalls on for locals’ enjoyment.
The celebrations were capped off with two outdoor church services on Sunday.
The Old Reserve was the site of a special morning service for the Pilbara Aboriginal Church, organised to pay tribute to a place with great significance for indigenous Roebourne residents who grew up there.
Pilbara Aboriginal Church Pastor David Stevens, who set up the church upon arriving in Roebourne in 1961, spoke about its history and changing fortunes over his 55 years in town, as people gave tributes and sang hymns going back to days at Sunday school.
Later in the evening, more residents gathered at the historic Holy Trinity Anglican Church, the oldest church in the Pilbara originally built in 1883, for an outdoor night-time service to finish the anniversary celebrations.
A slideshow of historical photos of the Roebourne community were shown and Wickham community chaplain the Rev. Richard Goscombe also took the chance to unveil the new church sign.
Mr Goscombe said holding a service under the stars at Holy Trinity had been a fitting way to close the town’s anniversary week, at a building that had been part of some of the most important times of residents’ lives. “It is part of a continuing story of Roebourne,” he said.
“It’s been wonderful tonight to actually have the church lit up, to have pulled all the pews out, to be sitting there with the floodlit church as the backdrop and under the stars to be able to remember and … to look forward.”
Long-term resident Ruth Ellis said the local churches had been an important beacon of hope for residents throughout the town’s sometimes difficult experiences. She said the 150th celebrations had been a good opportunity for people to reflect on the history of their town over the last few generations and how things had changed.
“It’s taken us back to when we came here, to what the town was like, to what we did, what buildings, what shops, what businesses were in town,” she said.
“It was very different to what it is today.”
Roebourne residents sing hymns at a Pilbara Aboriginal Church service at the Old Reserve.