Dog on the Move

Last residents of asbestos-riddled Wittenoom miss WA authorities deadline to maneuver out


The ultimate two residents of the Western Australian city of Wittenoom have remained dwelling at the asbestos-littered mining city, regardless of a state authorities directive to vacate by final week.

Key factors:

  • The WA authorities has been buying the ultimate 14 properties within the de-gazetted city of Wittenoom since March
  • Two residents stay within the city, regardless of a directive to vacate by final week 
  • The state authorities says the deadline is being revised

The WA authorities has been buying the ultimate 14 properties within the de-gazetted city within the Pilbara since March, with plans to demolish all remaining constructions beneath the Wittenoom Closure Act.

The federal government referred to as it the top of a “darkish chapter” within the state’s historical past, with the city the location of the place lethal blue asbestos was mined for many years.

The city’s last two residents got till June 17 to go away.

However the ABC can affirm that long-term resident Lorraine Thomas and retiree Raphael Willoughby are nonetheless dwelling in what is known to be the biggest contaminated space within the Southern Hemisphere. 

Ms Thomas mentioned the deadline had been prolonged, whereas Mr Willoughby mentioned he had not heard from the federal government and deliberate to remain put till he was moved him on.

A Division of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokesperson mentioned the federal government would work intently with the residents to finalise their departure, and that the deadline was being revised.

It’s unclear why the unique deadline was not met or what the brand new deadline could be.

The township is positioned about 12km from the previous asbestos mine.(Provided)

Last occupants maintain agency

The three million tonnes of asbestos tailings that nonetheless scar the panorama on the outskirts of the city haven’t deterred Mrs Thomas from calling Wittenoom house. 

She mentioned final week’s deadline had handed with no indicators of demolition crews. 

She mentioned the deadline had been prolonged to permit her household time to assist with the transfer.

“It was my understanding … that I might anticipate that the interval could be prolonged,” she mentioned.

“Due to my circumstances … reliance on a member of the family.” 

Asbestos tailings piled up near hills. Asbestos tailings are littered round Wittenoom.(Provided)

Ms Thomas mentioned she would finally transfer three hours away to Port Hedland, and mentioned it could be unhappy to say goodbye to her house of 40 years.

“The quietness, away from folks,” she mentioned.

“You are a part of the world, the timber you watch develop. A few of these I planted the seeds and that is what I’ve obtained.”

Retirement plans interrupted

A man crouches with two pet dogs Raphael Willoughby and his canine in Wittenoom, the place he needed to retire.(Provided)

Mr Willoughby moved to Wittenoom in 2017 with the intention to retire. He was drawn to the numerous hills and gorges that encompass the city.

“I simply love the countryside: The hills, the quietness, the truth that we have got the gorge that is solely a few miles down the street,” he mentioned.

“There is no different place that I do know in Australia that you are able to do that.” 

Mr Willoughby mentioned the state authorities had not contacted him in regards to the city’s closure and mentioned he wouldn’t be shifting till he acquired an official discover.

“Till I see one thing or a authorities physique tells me I’ve obtained to maneuver, I am going to keep right here,” he mentioned.

“I have not obtained something in writing. The federal government is aware of who I’m and so they have not despatched me a letter.” 

An abandoned house in sits on a grassy field and below large hills.  Wittenoom’s inhabitants has dwindled over the a long time.(Provided)

Mr Willoughby mentioned he didn’t have different dwelling preparations.

“I am undecided the place I am going to have the ability to go,” he mentioned. 

“I am simply taking it daily in the mean time.”

Wittenoom nonetheless attracting guests

When the Wittenoom Closure Act handed state parliament, Lands Minister John Carey mentioned he hoped it could cease “idiotic” vacationers from visiting the historic, however lethal space. 

Nevertheless, there are some nonetheless prepared to go to Wittenoom. Mark Nicolaou, from neighbouring city Tom Worth is drawn to the city with its picturesque location.

A man in a cowboy hat sits on a log with his dog lying down in front of him.  Mark Nicolaou together with his canine in Wittenoom, he lives in Tom Worth however visits the previous asbestos mining city.(Provided)

He has plans to go to the city, even after the ultimate buildings are eliminated.

“There’s not many locations like this in Australia … I will be out right here each second weekend,” he mentioned. 

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