Old pub has new lease on life

Caitlyn WattsPilbara News
Ganalili Centre in Roebourne.
Camera IconGanalili Centre in Roebourne.

A visitor centre in Roebourne that was once a controversial pub that closed because of social issues has recorded a successful first three months of operation after its transformation.

The City of Karratha has provided an update on the Ganalili Centre that opened in September, saying the hub, pictured, containing a tourism and cultural centre and library, represented a positive step forward for the Roebourne community.

Built in 1893, the building was known as the Victoria Hotel and supplied alcohol to the town until it closed because of social problems in 2005. It has been revamped into a community hub run by the City and Wawardu, a subsidiary of the Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation.

In the three months since it opened, the previously abandoned watering hole had a total of 4186 visitors, while 3488 people went to the library.

JAC anthropologist Phil Davies said he was very pleased with the centre’s growth. “It’s a very exciting development and space,” he said.

“We have had immense positive feedback.”

A City spokesperson said the centre had created local jobs and benefited the town.

“The results achieved by Wawardu during the first six months of operation indicate the centre has the potential to grow Roebourne’s tourism industry,” they said.

“Wawardu is contracted to June 30 2020. with options for extension.” Ganalili Centre employee Samantha Donaldson said she liked working at the centre.

“We provide tourist information, we do tours out on country, and we do cultural awareness training here. We also help provide faxing, emailing and internet services,” she said.

“We have had a lot of visitors come through the building from all over the world and tourists travelling around Australia.

“Speaking to customers and sharing our knowledge of land and the culture of the Yindjibarndi people is the most exciting part of it ... because there are people from around the world who might not know about Aboriginal people or know about our culture or life here in Australia.”

Finding a tenant for the centre’s cafe remains an issue, despite nine office spaces being filled in the building.

Since its opening, Ganalili has hosted a range of guests including indigenous choir Spinifex Gum, Australia’s Governor General, and the WA Governor.

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