People and community 02 Apr 2019

Rich history behind new office

A sense of history pervades Woodside’s new office in Roebourne – and perhaps also the faint aroma of coffee beans and freshly baked bread.

For the new office is a restored heritage building that counts a bakery and café among its many previous reincarnations.

Roebourne is located in the Pilbara along the North West Coastal Highway some 1500 km from Perth and 40 km to the east of Karratha.


The former gold rush town commemorated 150 years of existence in 2016. Just down the road is another historic town, Cossack, which has a pearling history dating back to the 1860s.

The pearling industry brought Malay, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese migrants to Cossack and there is also evidence that European settlers "imported" Chinese labourers as servants and labourers for the pastoral industry.

Our new office, on the main street, Roe Street, in Roebourne, was built in the early 1870s.

Over the years it’s been part of the commercial enterprise of Freddie Yee Palk, who established a bakery, general store, tailoring business and market gardens.

The bakery and store were repeatedly damaged by cyclones and the Harding River in flood (in 1889, 1935 and 1954). Since its restoration, it housed most recently Juel’s Bakery and Café.

Now it’s a place where Woodside works with the community to deliver on our commitments and support community projects. Senior Corporate Affairs adviser Shanine Ryan is based at the office full time, but the office also provides capacity for community meetings and visiting Woodsiders.

“After nine months of team work with our Global Property team and local contractors, we began relocating to the office in December 2018, and it officially opened for business on 12 February 2019,” Shanine explains.

“The new office space is really welcoming and has a sense of calm about it that creates a great work environment.

"Its accessibility and facilities assist with our continued efforts in working with the Roebourne community.

“It is also exciting to feel a connection to this historical building that has meant many things over the years to local people.”

Roebourne enjoyed rapid growth in the 1960s due to the mining boom of the time. It became home to many neighbouring Aboriginal groups across the Pilbara during the period in which Aboriginal people were being moved from their home lands for various reasons, but particularly due to pastoralists seizing ownership of station lands.

And it’s home to the key traditional owner groups with significant cultural heritage interests on the Burrup (Murujuga) where Woodside’s North West operations are sited.

Meg O’Neill, chief operations officer, says Woodside is looking forward to maintaining its presence in the Pilbara for years to come.

“The Burrup Hub strategy builds on our 35-year history in the region and creates new opportunities for us to collaborate with local stakeholders,” Meg notes.

“The Roebourne office and our presence in this important community enables us to build genuine relationships and work together towards achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.”

Read the full Q1 2019 issue of Trunkline here.

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