A tribute to lep­rosar­ium

Broome Advertiser - - News - Jakeb Wad­dell

The mem­ory of pa­tients and work­ers from a lep­rosar­ium in the Kim­ber­ley will live on per­ma­nently through a tribute in Broome.

Works have started on a new fea­ture in the court­yard of the Sis­ters of St John of God Her­itage Cen­tre to hon­our peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with the Ban­garun Lep­rosar­ium in Derby, which closed more than three decades ago.

The cen­tre opened in 1936 to treat Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple di­ag­nosed with lep­rosy and was the fi­nal lep­rosar­ium in the coun­try to shut in 1986 af­ter a cure had been found for the dis­ease.

The Bun­garun Re­flec­tion Court­yard will in­clude a quiet out­door area, an au­dio sta­tion, in­ter­pre­ta­tive signs and bench seats, telling the story of com­mu­nity spirit that arose.

Sis­ters at the her­itage cen­tre also hope to in­cor­po­rate the sound of a 50-piece orches­tra started in 1944 by Alphonsus Daly, a nurse and mu­si­cian who spent 36 years at Ban­garun.

SSJGHC man­ager Sis­ter Pat Rhati­gan said the hospi­tal was an im­por­tant part of the re­gion’s his­tory.

“The lep­rosar­ium and the his­tory of lep­rosy in the Kim­ber­ley is a mas­sive story of dis­lo­ca­tion, but above all, tenac­ity and re­silience, love and com­mu­nity spirit,” she said.

“Our sis­ters nursed there through­out all the years of its op­er­a­tion un­til its clo­sure in 1986.

“We be­lieve that the Bun­garun Re­flec­tion Court­yard at the Her­itage Cen­tre Broome . . . (pro­vides) easy ac­cess to the many lo­cals and vis­i­tors who would oth­er­wise not know of the Bun­garun story or are un­able to visit the orig­i­nal site out­side Derby.”

Min­eral sands min­ing com­pany Sh­effield Re­sources funded the ini­tia­tive, which will open on Fe­bru­ary 5.

Pic­ture: Matthew Adams

Sis­ter Pat Rhati­gan with Sh­effield Re­sources man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Bruce McFadzean.

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