Mining town celebrates 50 years

Daneka HillNorth West Telegraph
Children climb a mine truck in Newman
Camera IconChildren climb a mine truck in Newman Credit: Supplied

The Pilbara mining town of Newman is set to dig deep and celebrate its 50th anniversary with five days of events and a trip down memory lane, starting August 15.

Hundreds of past and present residents are expected to flock to the golden jubilee for events including a float parade, fun runs, 1960s-inspired balls, and the opening of a time capsule.

Reunion organiser Lisa Rickerts said past residents had been in contact with her about “heading back this way” for the birthday bash.

“The friends that you make in town you tend to keep for life — people just love to come and catch up with each other,” she said.

Special guests include author Melva Stone, whose family was one of the first to be given accommodation provided by a mining company in Newman.

Port Hedland resident David Eckhart, son of the late Dr Peter Eckhart, who established the first hospital in the town with his wife, Marjorie, has also been invited as a special guest.

Mrs Eckhart delivered the first baby in Newman in April, 1969.

The transformation from iron ore mine site to fully fledged town happened rapidly in 1969, beginning with the opening of Newman Primary School, which was quickly followed by a community hall, library and swimming pool.

Ms Rickerts said people remembered the town being “like a big family” in the 1960s.

“We are quite remote, even as far as the Pilbara goes. I think that we are very reliant on each other as community members for support,” she said.

Local engineers responsible for opening the industrial looking capsule have been in contact with its original creator, now living in Perth, to make sure they can get it open on the big day.

Ms Rickerts said the opening of the time capsule on Sunday at the Newman Visitor’s Centre would be an unmissable opportunity for today’s children.

“To witness the opening of the time capsule, that is going to go down in history, so it is really nice they can have that connection to the town always,” she said.

The capsule opening will be followed by the town’s Lions Fortescue Float Parade.

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