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Outback historian rides again

Dr Paul Roe in Bourke coaching staff at the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre in the art of storytelling. Photo TWH

Outback Historian Dr Paul Roe has been in Bourke, teaching and training the current generation the gift of storytelling.

Paul spent time coaching the staff at the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre, the art of storytelling and its value in the preservation of history and culture.

Bourke Shire Council employed Paul to train staff at the Information and Exhibition Centre, in preparation for the upcoming tourist season.

Paul says he’ll be helping to lift the game and getting everyone up to speed on the stories and history within the centre.

While Paul’s services are available, Bourke Shire Council is also planning for this year’s Easter Festival.

“I have been asked to come and do some cemetery tours and guided night exhibition tours, as well as something on the Jandra paddleboat over the Easter weekend.

“The old Outback Historian rides again,” Dr Roe laughs.

“I love coming back to Bourke - it is native to me. Everywhere I look, I see a story.

“The beginnings of this centre started from a town audit back in the 1990’s when it was agreed that the number one feature of Bourke was its stories.

“But how were people going to access them? That was the problem - how were we going to pass them on?

“There were twelve volumes of the History of Bourke, but who was going to sit down and read the twelve volumes?” Paul says with a smile.

The goal was to make this history into an asset to the town, with an opportunity for visitors to access the stories easily in a creative way.

“And that’s what we’ve got here at the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre.

“We are going to include the indigenous history, which we were unable to include initially. This is great because we will be able to include those stories which are a very rich and important part of who we are,” Paul says.

Paul is excited by the enthusiasm of the staff at the centre and encourages Gemma Gale to follow her passion.

“Gemma is an absolute enthusiast. She really loves the stories and sharing them with others. It’s nice to see young people from Bourke who own their own story and their own town with a passion,” Paul said.

Gemma will be heading on to university soon to study creative writing and join the line of talented writers from Bourke.

“It’s amazing for a little town to have so many leading writers.

“And now it’s time for the new generation - seeing it with fresh eyes and telling their story here.

Paul believes Bourke shouldn’t just leave it up to Henry Lawson, Breaker Morant and co, but continue the tradition now in a contemporary way.

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