- $800,000 investment for heritage conservation of Gaoler's Quarters in Roebourne
- Project is part of plan to revitalise and reactivate Roebourne Gaol Precinct
- Experienced heritage construction experts win tender to conserve the building
The historic Gaoler's Quarters in Roebourne will undergo conservation works to restore the building and make it suitable for use as office space.
The $800,000 project has been funded through the McGowan Government's $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan, which is intended to boost job creation and stimulate economic growth.
Experienced contractor Colgan Industries has been awarded the tender, having previously worked on iconic heritage buildings including Government House and the Regal Theatre.
The project will convert the 125-year-old building for alternate use, with the addition of inclusive access facilities and car parking, and installation of new electrical, plumbing and mechanical services installed to achieve compliance for office purposes.
The original four-room building was built from local stone, and includes a wide central breezeway, surrounded by deep verandahs to all sides. The interior of the Quarters features concrete flooring, with a kitchen at the rear.
Construction will also involve the conservation of the external stonewalls and outdoor toilet, a new kitchen fit-out and painting of internal walls and ceilings.
The Gaoler's Quarters building has been used for a variety of purposes including initially as accommodation for the gaolers, police officers and government employees and as an aged care facility up until 2016. It has been vacant for the past five years.
The Roebourne Gaol Precinct is a collection of former judicial and gaol buildings in Western Australia's Pilbara region that date back from 1887 to 1896. The site is the result of colonial expansion into Yirramagardu (Roebourne) and is associated with implementing control over Aboriginal, Asian and Pacific Island workers to enforce indentured servitude (contract between two people) in the pastoral and pearling industries.
Aboriginal prisoners were detained in extremely harsh conditions at the Roebourne Gaol Precinct between 1887 and 1924. It was temporarily reopened between 1975 and 1984 to accommodate the overcrowded police prison of Roebourne. The prison was eventually replaced by Roebourne Regional Prison.
Since 2019, the McGowan Government has spent more than $1.5 million on building and conservation improvement works to the precinct, including an additional $300,000 in this contract.
A registration of interest process for development and revitalisation of this culturally important heritage precinct will follow completion of the works by mid-2022.
Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:
"The site has a rich, deep cultural and built history - a history that is pivotal to the truth-telling of our past and to Western Australia's path to reconciliation.
"The Roebourne Gaoler's Quarters conservation works will complement works already undertaken by the McGowan Government across the precinct and help to preserve and reactivate this significant place for the future."
Comments attributed to Lands Minister Tony Buti:
"The Gaoler's Quarters stands on the Ngarluma Determination Area, which represents a key part of our social and judicial history and holds many important stories of people from different Aboriginal nation groups who were incarcerated on the site.
"Once reactivated, it is hoped the precinct will have the potential to contribute not only to tourism and truth-telling in the area, but also bring new business opportunities and jobs for locals in the surrounding communities."
Comments attributed to Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel:
"After advocating for this revitalisation, I am so pleased to hear that this historic building will be restored.
"While it has a sad and sorry history for the Aboriginal population, it is important that these stories are preserved for future generations to reflect and remember."
Heritage Minister's office - 6552 5400
Lands Minister's office - 6552 6400