Work is underway on an annex to the Garden of Healing at the SSJG Heritage Centre Broome.
The Bungarun Reflection Courtyard will be a permanent feature to honour the memory of the Bungarun people and others associated with the Derby Leprosarium.
The courtyard, currently under construction at the Heritage Centre, will pay tribute to the leprosarium’s patients, families, workers, doctors and the Sisters of St John of God who nursed patients suffering from the disease known in the Kimberley as The Big Sick at Bungarun for its 50 years from 1936.
Heritage Centre Manager, Sr Pat Rhatigan, said the idea of a quiet reflective outdoor area with an audio station, interpretative signage and bench seats had been proposed for some time, but there had not been funds available to make it a reality until mining company Sheffield Resources stepped in.
Sr Pat recently showed Managing Director of Sheffield Resources, Bruce McFadzean, the progress of the courtyard when he visited Broome.
Mr McFadzean said his team had decided that support for the Bungarun Reflection Courtyard would be the company’s community contribution for Christmas 2018.
He said he was aware the impact leprosy had on families as he had been in the Kimberley during some of those years.
“Sheffield is honoured to support the Bungarun Reflection Courtyard project at the Heritage Centre Broome that will be so meaningful to the people of the Kimberley. We hope that it will provide an opportunity for reflection and a sense of peace for many,” Mr McFadzean said.
Sr Rhatigan said the company’s generous support enabled the Heritage Centre to design, buy and install the audio station as the first part of the project.
“The four button device will feature narrative, memory and anecdotes. We also hope to feature the sound of the 50 piece classical orchestra begun in 1944 by Sr Alphonsus Daly, a nurse and musician who spent 36 years of her life at Bungarun”.
Sr Rhatigan said that by 1950 one in every 10 Kimberley families had been affected by leprosy.
“The leprosarium and the history of leprosy in the Kimberley is a massive story of dislocation, but above all, tenacity and resilience, love and community spirit. Our Sisters nursed there throughout all the years of its operation until its closure in 1986.
“We believe that the Bungarun Reflection Courtyard at the Heritage Centre Broome has the potential to provide a strong historical focus and easy access to the many locals and visitors, who would otherwise not know of the Bungarun story or are unable to visit the original site outside Derby” Sr Rhatigan said.
The Bungarun Reflection Courtyard is due to officially open on Tuesday 5 February at a twilight event that will also mark the season opening of the Heritage Centre’s Relationship Exhibition 2019, 9 Barker St Broome.