Unholy Araluen not church worthy

Unholy Araluen not church worthy

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Church going for free.
Suzanne Bazzica hopes the church will go to a good home. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

By Hamish Hastie

St Munchin's church not for Araluen.
Araluen botanic park foundation general manager Grant Nixon at the site where the church would have been placed. Photographs — Matt Devlin.

The state heritage office refused an Araluen botanic park foundation application to move the Catholic church at St Munchin’s primary school in Gosnells to the botanic park because of its lack of ‘religious history’.
The foundation, through the City of Armadale, applied to the heritage office in October last year to move the 98-year-old jarrah church from the school to the park’s north east corner.
It would have been used as a function centre.
Owners of the Gosnells parish, wanted to give the church away and after speaking to the foundation began planning to transport and install it at the park.
As the entire Araluen park was state heritage listed, the state heritage office must approve any building project.
The project would have taken about $500,000 to complete.
Foundation general manager Grant Nixon was disappointed the office refused the project given the care that went into its planning and the benefits it would have provided the park and community.
“When we heard the parish were looking to give it away we went down and had a look at it,” he said.
“From then on we went down to talk to people about how we could do it and we decided it would certainly be a useful addition to the park because it gave us a meeting place for about 100 people.
“We came up with a system to do it, every way along the line we had people say what a great way of saving an old building.”
Mr Nixon said the project then stalled at the heritage office.
“I think what could have been a great outcome for a building that’s close to 100 years old and it would have gone into an area about that age and been a good fit.”
“It’s one of the things we are short of up here.”
State heritage office executive director Graeme Gammie said the decision was based on an international council on monuments and sites principle.
“The relocation of a building to a place with no historical connection, provenance or association is not a positive outcome for the cultural significance of the place,” he said.
“Araluen botanic park has no history of religious association and has a high level of integrity and authenticity.
He said a more modern building would be considered.
The Gosnells parish was now giving the church, which was the first Catholic church in Gosnells, away for free.
Gosnells parish administrative assistant Suzanne Bazzica said the church was an important part of local history so rather than demolish it they decided to give it away to a good home.