Paul Roe brings Bourke’s past to life


The Outback Historian Paul Roe is back in Bourke over Easter leading tours and telling stories of Bourke. Photo TWH

He’s become the interpreter of Bourke’s stories, and when he leads his tours of the towns legendary sites, historian Paul Roe will be bringing to life the tales that have made Bourke part of Australia’s national identity.

Paul has an enduring passion for the people and stories of the past – the bushrangers, pioneers, Afghan cameleers, Chinese traders and market gardeners and the ordinary people of the outback who made extraordinary lives here.

Over the Back O’Bourke Easter Festival weekend, Paul will bring those stories to life for tourists and locals when he guides them through the cemetery, walks them through the historic sites in the town, reveals the extraordinary exhibits at the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre and describes the significance of the Jandra paddle boat.

For visitors to Bourke, Paul paints a picture that brings it to life as more than a remote outback town but a significant touchstone of the Australian identity.

“We did an audit of historical stories about 20 or 30 years ago and discovered that those stories are our greatest asset,” Paul said.

“Most towns have one or two legends, but Bourke has dozens of stories that took on national and international significance.

“Fred Hollows, for example, is bigger than just Bourke or even Australia, the Far West Children’s Scheme and the wonderful Reverend Stanley Drummond.

“I can stand at a gravesite at the Bourke cemetery where there are five children buried by their father, and explain how in 1880 this is what happened.

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