The West Australian exclusive

Cyclone damaged heritage buildings need urgent repair

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Missing roof tiles at Monsignor Hawes' Northamton Catholic Church.
Camera IconMissing roof tiles at Monsignor Hawes' Northamton Catholic Church. Credit: Father Robert Cross/Supplied, Father Robert Cross

Cyclone Seroja has damaged more than 40 heritage-listed properties across the Mid West, and owners are hoping the WA Government will step in to fund urgent roof repairs as wet weather sets in.

Father Robert Cross said the cyclone had caused damage estimated at more than $1 million to six heritage-listed church properties.

He said St Joseph’s Catholic church in Perenjori had had about a quarter of its roof taken off and the Monsignor Hawes-built church and convent in Northampton had roof damage.

“The presbytery in Northampton was totally demolished and there was a little bit of damage to the Yuna church. The Hawes convent in Nanson was partially unroofed,” he said.

“At Nanson church, the roof is going to have to be replaced, at Mullewa the priest house had some roof damage and ceiling collapse, the church in Northampton had some ceiling collapse.”

The cyclone damaged Presbytery at Northampton.
Camera IconThe cyclone damaged Presbytery at Northampton. Credit: Supplied

Father Cross said all the church properties were “substantially insured” so they should be able to recover the cost of repairs.

Yanget owner Rod O’Bree, whose property includes the historic station homestead and shearing shed, said it was “pretty hairy” listening to the sound of tiles lifting during the storm.

He said the property had taken “a bit of a flogging” and an insurance assessor had inspected the damage on Friday.

Father Larry Rodillas at the cyclone-damaged Northampton presbytery, and damage to the Northampton and Perenjori churches.
Camera IconFather Larry Rodillas at the cyclone-damaged Northampton presbytery, and damage to the Northampton and Perenjori churches. Credit: Father Robert Cross/Supplied, Father Robert Cross

This included missing roof cladding, and cracks in the wall of the homestead where the family lived.

“On the house we have got tarps, but I haven’t got to the shearing shed and other stuff yet,” he said.

“We have had an intense period but all good. We are still here, no one got hurt.”

Mr O’Bree said insurance assessors were in short supply.

“The assessor was flown in from Christchurch in New Zealand,” he said.

Everyone has been patient for the last few weeks but it will be interesting to see how that patience holds out.

Mr O’Bree said finding builders to fix the damage was now a challenge.

“I tried talking to Fremantle Roofing and local builders and they said they are too busy,” he said.

Cyclone damage to Monsignor Hawes' Perenjori Catholic Church.
Camera IconCyclone damage to Monsignor Hawes' Perenjori Catholic Church. Credit: Supplied

“I know a lady in Northampton was told she could book in for 18 months time.

“I am ready to act and run, even if I have to pull a couple of mates in from Victoria.”

Mr O’Bree said he hoped the WA heritage grants which normally became available in August or September would be fast-tracked for Mid West properties.

WA Heritage Minister David Templeman was contacted for comment.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said several Commonwealth-owned buildings had been promptly sealed against the weather.

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