Tribute to Mr. Roe written by Mark Jones from Save The Kimberley


The late Mr Roe center left in second row (Image: Save the Kimberley)

'I, like many, really got to know Mr Roe during the long and brutal James Price Point campaign.

He approached us and asked if we would support both himself and his mob in the upcoming stoush after the WA Premier announced JPP as the site for the world's largest gas refinery.

History will show that we agreed, and I am proud to say that not only did we assist Mr. Roe and the protection of his land, we also formed a friendship that will last for many generations.

The first time I bonded with Mr. Roe was on the Manari road. He came up to me and said that he needed to do something. My ears pricked up and I jumped into a car and raced down the Quondong road. We parked the car across the road and waited for a line of 'Woodside' vehicles that had been doing 'tests' along the coast.

Sovereign Union

Walmadan Tent Embassy (James Price Point)
On the 14th September, 2011, Kimberley Traditional Owners launched a Tent Embassy at Walmadan (James Price Point), 60 klms north of Broome WA. In an early morning ceremony Joseph Roe lit the fire with ash sent from the fire of the Canberra Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where the fire has been burning for 40 years.

As with many of these flash points, tensions and emotions were high, as expletives were exchanged and raw emotion poured out. I can vividly remember looking at my friend and I and the scene we were in. I can vividly remember the power of the country coursing through my veins, and the power of this great man who stood up against governments and some of the most powerful companies in the world.

The second time I really bonded with Mr. Roe was when my friend, Malcolm Douglas passed away. At Malcolm's memorial in Broome, with hundreds of people around, I can remember seeing the big burly figure walk towards me. His eyes locked onto mine as he wrapped me in a bear hug. We talked of the old man, and laughed at his exploits. Little did I know then, that I would lose another of my mentors, only a few short years later.

I have done a lot of walking and thinking since Mr. Roe passed away. I see him in the storms that fan out from the North. I see him in the proliferation of life that spawns at this time of the year. I see him in the eyes of the kids who have their whole lives ahead of them.

Mr. Roe stood as a beacon. His strength was what got everyone through. He said that government and industry would enter his country over his dead body... and he was right. They never got in whilst he was alive - and with the incredible work that he, his family, and his team amassed - they should never be allowed to enter in his death.

His was the ultimate sacrifice, and a lesson for any of us who truly believe.

A friend of mine said many years ago that Walmadan would prevail because country will rise. It did rise, and its face was that of our friends.

We have lost a great warrior. But man will become myth, and his country will prevail.'

Source: Save the Kimberley - Facebook 11 April 2014

Walmadan (James Price Point) North of Broome WA