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Gaol greets a new type of visitor

The historic Roebourne Gaol reopened to the public last month for the first time in two years, inviting tourists and locals to explore part of the history of the oldest town in the North West.

More than 800 people have visited the site since local textile group Grateful Remnants moved in.

Grateful Remnants director Sue Philpot said locals and visitors were excited the gaol was open again.

“The amount of visitors exceeded all expectations. We are getting a lot of positive feedback,” she said.

“We’re running workshops, selling textile products and promoting the Pilbara in general and … presenting in some respects the stark and confronting truth that the old gaol represents.

“But at the same time, it’s showing that great things happen in Roebourne on a daily basis and that the elders are wanting the story told but they also want people to understand that they are moving forward.”

Restoration works were under way in the buildings of the historic precinct including structural replacements and reconstruction, fresh paint, new security screens and removal of termite-damaged timber and asbestos.

It is hoped the $1.5 million restoration project funded by the WA Government would preserve the buildings and increase tourism in the town.

Ms Philpot said Grateful Remnants would occupy the gaol until at least Christmas, however the opening hours would change at the end of this month as peak tourist season would be over.

Roebourne Heritage Group chair Eileen Wright said having the old gaol open was a positive for the building and would help tourism.

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