Paper chase to recover hall history

Jon SolmundsonGeraldton Guardian
Waggrakine Hall in the 1980s.
Camera IconWaggrakine Hall in the 1980s. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

Efforts to recover the lost history of the Waggrakine Hall have hit a bump — the exact date it was moved from Bluff Point to its current home remains unknown.

Margaret Pike, who is leading efforts to record the venue’s details and publish them into a book for next year’s 50th anniversary celebrations, has been working with a paid historian, but the duo now need public help to pin down the details.

Mrs Pike is planning a community consultation on September 10, starting at 11am, and encouraged anyone who had memories, photos or family stories of the hall to attend so they could piece the mystery of the hall’s history back together.

“It is vital that we get this information because time is really of the essence,” she said.

“Quite a few of the folk that we’ve tried to contact are medically unfit to talk to us — whether it’s through stroke or memory loss.

“Every time we speak to someone they give us a lead that helps take us on to the next lead, and so on but we need more places to look.”

While it is known that the Waggrakine Hall was standing for the New Year’s Dance of 1967 — with the roof still not in place, allowing partners to dance under the stars — it’s not known which month it was actually moved. Mrs Pike said once they knew the month they could start looking through the newspaper archives and find more specific information.

But with newspapers published in Geraldton five times a week in those years, there was simply too much reading to get through without a good lead.

“Was it summer, was it winter? Because even the people who were integral, who were building this thing on the site can’t remember,” she said.

“It was cut into three (at Bluff Point) and put on a truck, and it went straight down Chapman Road across the bridge; that was a main road in those days.

“We were told it was on a Friday — it’s amazing one person can remember it was a Friday but nothing else — apparently it held up traffic.

“They never had a police escort, they never had police permission and that’s the problem, when these people of Waggrakine were determined to do something, they didn’t ask too many questions, they just got it done, which means we don’t have documentation to look at now.”

Waggrakine Hall hosted many formal dances and discos in its early years, though no photographic records of those events have been found.

Those with information can call Mrs Pike on 0428 381 384.

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