Pub looks to past for future success
Roebourne’s Victoria Hotel won’t hide from its chequered past as a new dawn rises on the life of the infamous watering hole.
The pub, the oldest in the North West, was closed in 2005 when social problems largely attributed to alcohol consumption among indigenous people in Roebourne spiralled out of control.
Of note was the 1983 death of John Pat after a scuffle with police outside the Vic, which sparked the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation bought the condemned building in 2013 and, after securing State and Federal Government funding a year ago, put in motion a plan to rebuild the prominent corner block as a business venture.
YAC chief executive Michael Woodley said a development application had been lodged last week and the corporation hoped to put out tenders in the next two months, with first ground broken on what is expected to be a 12-month project mooted for April.
“The idea of the redevelopment of the hotel is to have an office space on the entire top floor and cafe and retail space on the bottom floor to support the local industry,” he said.
“There is a lot of positive stuff happening on the main street in Roebourne and I think the pub could be the centrepiece to all of of that.”
Mr Woodley said the rebuild would embrace the often-maligned pub’s history.
“(Documentary) Exile and the Kingdom talks about that and we got a lot of old photos as well from way back in the 1800s, so we might have something inside the pub which has an ongoing reel to show that sort of stuff as people come in to have a meal,” he said.
“Even having some of the people come in and tell stories about it, that would be good.
“At the end of the day, a lot of the people know what the pub used to represent and what it did to families but look, it’s not something we should hide from and be ashamed of, because it is something which has become part of history.”
Pilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill said the restoration of the Victoria Hotel was more than bricks and mortar to the Roebourne community.
“This is a great example of collaboration across government and community to achieve a shared vision,” he said.
“Once complete, the facility will aim to become a financially self-sustaining enterprise providing local employment opportunities for residents. Building vibrant and liveable towns with strong communities supports the vision of the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint.”
The project has received equal funding from the YAC and the tate and Federal Governments.
The Victoria Hotel redevelopment in Roebourne is set to begin.