Nateis Contracting completed another great journey in the North West of the State this week. After an arduous journey with two trailers and an oversized load we arrived in Roebourne to commence the demolition of a number of old dwellings and general clean-up of an old site dating back to the early 60’s. Our working Director Nigel Bailey gets a real thrill out of working the red earth, maybe that goes back to his youth where family holidays were spent prospecting.
The author of this blog spent the primary school years of her life living in the then booming Hamersley Iron Port Town of Dampier. The sporting competition between the Towns of Dampier, Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Samson was immense. Once a year our primary school competed in a much anticipated Interschool Sports Carnival and our biggest rival was not Karratha, Wickham or Samson but the mighty Roebourne. Man those kids could compete, the writer was one of the quickest runners in the school and could jump the highest but when it came to Roebourne we might as well have stayed at home.
Sadly, these memories have faded of the past 50 years but they all came flooding back when I stepped out of that Ute and onto the hot footpath in front of the Old Vic Hotel on the main street of Roebourne. Once a thriving town it is now almost a ghost town. The river that once flowed through the town is still, hundreds of kids use to line its banks splashing around. I remember the squeals of delight coming from the hundreds of children playing down by the river as we passed through the town, wishing we could join them as Dads Ford Falcon had no air-conditioning and we were travelling through to Cossack where even though on the ocean we were not allowed to swim for fear of sharks.
Complete silence greets the visitor now, not a soul in sight. The local swimming pool, basketball courts and ovals are empty, devoid of kids. Please tell me this is a sign of the times with modern day kids preferring to spend hours in front of Play Station, not my worst fear that the local kids too have been seduced by the shops and facilities in the City of Karratha. How can Roebourne compete with the money that is ploughed into Karratha by politicians eager to win votes? According to some very friendly locals, I met at the Leramugadu Café the river is unsafe to swim in and partly due to the lack of flow which ceased when the Harding River was dammed up stream in 1979, this has in turn created the perfect breeding ground for thousands of mosquitos.
However, a quick walk or drive around the town site of Roebourne reveals some beautiful historic buildings, all well sign posted with a historic blurb on each. I feel that history of Roebourne competes seriously with the local tourist site of Cossack and would recommend a stop and look around the sites and river (keep your mosquito spray handy as the flies in the North West are as friendly as the locals). Get out of your air-conditioned comfort zone, go and seek out the old buildings in the back street, the historic police station and farm buildings just off the major high way. Don’t turn left at the sign to Samson and Cossack, stop in and grab a nice coffee and check out the river it is still beautiful and teeming with local flora and fauna.
Give a shout out to those guys and gals that work the counters at the Leramugadu Store, who kept our team well fed and hydrated. Their coffee was a sweet surprise as good as any of my local haunts in Perth. If passing through or taking me up on my challenge to give Roebourne Historic Town Sites a visit, then give the local Service Station a miss and give Leramugadu Ladies a try. Inexpensive, friendly, good selection of freshly made meals on site, the girls and guys who run this place are super friendly and with its solid build and high ceilings this place makes a cool place to hang out on a scorching day. It also doubles as the local grocery shop with well stocked shelves, so campers going through stop and pick up that last minute item prior to heading out rather than risking the parking dilemma’s and chaos in Karratha.
We annoyed the locals of Roebourne for over four weeks with the pounding and vibration of our machines and not once did you complain. Thank you Roebourne for your patience with our team, we hope this is not our last visit to your very historic town and we thank your Elders for letting us work on your projects.