A tribute to leprosarium
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.
Sister Pat Rhatigan with Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean.