Culture and tourism excel in State heritage awards

  • ​2020 WA Heritage Awards honours 29 individuals and heritage projects
  • Award winners display world-class excellence in heritage practices
  • State’s history shared in stories of Aboriginal culture and new tourism ventures
  • An Aboriginal languages centre, the conservation of heritage listed buildings and a regional community project sharing traumatic stories from our past are just some of the 29 winners of the 2020 WA Heritage Awards.

    The coveted Gerry Gauntlett Award went to Aquinas College for conservation and expansion of the school’s 1966 chapel – a project that doubled seating capacity of the venue while ensuring the architectural red stone, timber and stained glass features were celebrated.

    The chapel was also a joint winner with the Armadale District Hall for excellence in conservation or adaptive reuse of heritage buildings, with commendations awarded to the newly restored Royal Hotel in Perth’s CBD, a 160-year old homestead and a lighthouse keepers’ cottage at Cape Leeuwin.

    Many volunteer and professional heritage champions recognised in this years’ awards have worked tirelessly to preserve valuable stories, culture and places, including management of the Busselton Jetty, community projects across the South-West and Great Southern region and digitally recording the Noongar language. 

    The Judges’ Awards recognised the voluntary contribution of the Lock Hospital Working Group, represented by community leaders Bob Dorey and Kathleen Musulin who have given a voice to the stories of lock hospitals on Bernier and Dorre Island.

    The project brings light to a shameful part of our State’s history when many healthy Aboriginal men, women and children were diagnosed with diseases and taken to ‘lock hospitals’ often never to return home.

    Since the first awards in 1992, the WA Heritage Awards have showcased excellence in revitalising State Registered Heritage Places, setting standards in interpretation, heritage tourism, conservation and adaptive reuse.

    More information on the winners and commendation recipients can be found online at

    As stated by Heritage Minister David Templeman:

    “The Lock Hospital Working Group stands out for the dedication they have shown to acknowledging the history of Bernier and Dorre Islands – a traumatic past for many Aboriginal people, and one that hadn’t been spoken about for many years.

    “The group’s work resulted in a memorial statue erected in Carnarvon, providing a platform through cultural heritage tourism to protect and promote these stories and allow for truth telling and healing for the communities involved.

    “I am delighted to see so many historic tourism destinations highlighted in this year’s awards.  Places such as the York Imperial Homestead Hotel have been a catalyst for attracting new visitors to regional areas and providing a unique tourism experience.

    “I’m also pleased to see six local government authorities recognised for their commitment to conserving and celebrating local history, particularly the Shire of Murray who were recognised as a category winner for restoration of the St John’s Church and Exchange Hotel.

    “These award-winning projects demonstrate the important role cultural heritage tourism has to play in our State and will encourage Western Australians to ‘wander out yonder’ and explore new regional destinations.”

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