By Amanda Murthy
“Heritage can be a very personal journey, and sacred heritage even more so. In a changing world we look to our heritage as a place of stability and comfort.”
These were the words of Minister for Heritage David Templeman when asked about the 2018 Geraldton Heritage Council’s Regional Heritage Conference which took place on 12 and 13 April.
Supported by the City of Geraldton, some 60 delegates took part in various activities, workshops, heritage tours and talks by notable speakers.
A total of 10 guest speakers graced the conference talking about the rich culture, heritage and architecture of Western Australia.
Among them were Benedictine Community of New Norcia Abbott Fr John Herbert, who gave a talk on monks and museums – the living traditions of Australia’s only monastic town.
A talk on Sikh heritage was delivered by founding member of Australian Sikh Heritage Association (ASHA) Tarun Preet Singh, and building archaeologist and WA heritage consultant Dr Fiona Bush spoke about the stained glass of Geraldton’s Cathedrals.
Director of Heritage for the Diocese of Geraldton, Fr Robert Cross said the conference successfully achieved its aim to deliver historic and Aboriginal heritage.
“With the practical guidance on care, interpretation, activation and appropriate sustainable use of Western Australian sacred heritage,” he said.
Prior to the conference, a Camino San Francisco Walk from Northampton to Geraldton via the Chapman Valley was held.
Over the span of two days, participants visited heritage sites and celebrated Mass at heritage sites, while completing a 60km walk.
The 30 participants gathered on 6 April to share a meal, then attended a Mass at Northampton’s St Mary of the Altar of Heaven Church – built by Geraldton’s much loved late priest and architect, Monsignor Hawes.
On the morning of 7 April, the participants began their journey stopping at sites including the ruins of the Gwalla Church, built in 1864 and the nearby cemetery.
They walked off into the scenic countryside, passing by the historic Bowes Homestead and up Norman’s Well Road to Nabawa Tavern which marked the end for most of the pilgrims for day. The evening meal was catered for by the Yuna Country Women’s Association (CWA).
Sunday morning saw another early start with pilgrims setting off for the Nanson Church of Our Lady of Fatima (also a Monsignor Hawes building) for Sunday Mass, then off they went to complete the walk.
In an interview with The Record, Fr Cross spoke about his talk at the conference, which explored perspectives of a heritage architect and priest. There are already plans to conduct a 300km Camino in 2019.
“The 2019 walk plans to take place from Mt Magnet, taking in Monsignor Hawes built and movable heritage at Melangata Station, Yalgoo Dominican Convent, Mullewa Mass Rock and Church of Mt Carmel, Kojarena Chapel, Utakarra Cemetery Chapel, the Hermitage and St Francis Xavier Cathedral.”
When asked to share one of the events highlights, Fr Cross recalled the table spreads of messages and drawings on butcher paper prepared by the children who attend the Yuna Primary School for the pilgrims.
“That was a sweet gesture by the children.
“The Pilgrims responded by writing messages in return and the spreads were to be returned to the Yuna school children as a sign of appreciation for their efforts,” he added.