Michelle Roberts

Michelle Roberts

Minister for Housing and Works; Indigenous Affairs; Heritage; Land Information

    Broome multicultural cemetery heritage listed

    15/04/2008 12:00 AM

    Broome’s diverse multicultural history was honoured today when Heritage Minister Michelle Roberts announced  an important addition to the State Register of Heritage Places.


    The Japanese, Chinese and Muslim section of Broome Cemetery, established in 1890, has been added to the register on an interim basis.


    “This listing recognises the important role the cemetery has played in the local community for over a century,” Mrs Roberts said.


     “It is an important record of Broome’s non-Christian pioneers and workers who contributed so much to the development of the region and the State through the pearling industry.


    “Each area of the cemetery demonstrates distinct cultural traditions through materials, form and style.


    “For example, the Japanese headstones have distinctive geometric stones, the Muslim gravesites have a north-south alignment and the Chinese graves face east.”


    In 1900, Broome was the centre of the pearling industry, employing more than 2,000 men from Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Timor and the Makassar Islands as divers and boat crew.


    “Pearling in those days was a dangerous industry,” the Minister said.


    “Sadly,  many workers died while diving as a result of the bends, and almost 200 people were killed during two cyclones in 1908.”


    Kimberley MLA Carol Martin said the site was highly valued by  locals, the wider community, and the countries from which the pearlers originated.


    “Nearly 1,000 people who died between 1890 and the present have been buried at the cemetery and many of their descendants still live in Broome and the surrounding communities,” Mrs Martin said.


    Mrs Roberts said the listing would ensure that the Japanese, Chinese and Muslim section of the Broome Cemetery was recognised and preserved for future generations.


    Minister's office - 9213 6600