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Local Leader Julie Arif

Local historian, celebrant and author Julie Arif is well qualified for her role as Vice President of the Historical Society, having lived in Hedland for half as long as the town has existed.

“My father was the District Rep for Shell, and my parents moved to town with their seven children when I was five years old,” Julie said. Julie completed Year One through to 12 of her schooling in Hedland and started a family soon after high school. “As the mother of four children I was involved in Scouts, Brownies and Cubs and on all the school committees for a number of years,” Julie said.

When her youngest child was nearing the end of high school, Julie decided to have a ‘selfish year’ and do some of the things she’d always wanted to do. “I started playing softball, joined the local Soroptimist Society, of which my mother was a founding member, and stepped in to replace a woman who’d left town on the local Historical Society,” she said.

Julie spent 20 years involved with the local Soroptimists chapter, and 25 years on she is still a member of the Historical Society committee, now as their Vice Chair. She was a Town of Port Hedland Councillor for eight years from 2011 until 2019 and is on the committees for Care for Hedland Environmental Association and the local Men’s Shed, which is in the process of establishing a physical space in the town.

Julie has written a series of children’s and history books about Hedland.

“I worked in early childhood for a while and saw the need for local books that children could relate to,” Julie said. “So, I wrote ABC Around Port Hedland which related the letters of the alphabet to features of the local area, with ‘S for salt pile’ — rather than ‘snow’ which local children had never seen — and ‘T for truck’. That was written 15 years ago and was popular enough to be reprinted,” Julie said.

“I also wrote a Christmas book during lockdown last year in collaboration with a local illustrator, called Santa’s Visit to Port Hedland.”

Julie’s father Jack Haynes was a prominent member of the Hedland community in his day, as Shire President, president of the local Turf Club and having worked at the Port Hedland Port Authority; and he wrote a weekly op-ed column in the local newspaper, the North West Telegraph, for more than 20 years.

“He kept all the clippings from those columns, and I have recently compiled them into a book,” Julie said.

Jack of all Trades: Remembering Soldiers Lost is a collection of articles by the former Spitfire pilot offering in-depth town history spanning early 60s and 70s racing at the Turf Club to the Town Council to accounts of the local waterways and the formation of the Spoilbank.

Another of Julie’s books, Disaster at Indee Station recounts the story of one of the town’s most tragic accidents, a plane crash at a nearby Pilbara station on New Year’s Eve of 1968 which killed 26 people.

“The Historical Society felt that there was nothing at the time that marked this significant event in the town’s history,” Julie said. “So, I set to writing up that story.”

A certified celebrant, Julie officiates local memorials, weddings and naming ceremonies for babies.

She also manages the Port Hedland Visitor Centre, where her wealth of knowledge about the town is a huge asset to visitors who stop in or take her tours of the town.

Julie lives in Port Hedland with her husband, Sam Arif. They have six children and eight grandchildren between them.

Thank you Julie, for the wonderful contribution you have made to the Hedland community over many years.