Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander readers are advised that this story contains the name and image of people who have died.
The statue of the pair – who were both off-stage partners and musical collaborators – is yet to be officially designed or commissioned, but will be overseen by members of both Roach and Hunter’s families. The statue will be situated in the suburb of Fitzroy, with both Yarra City council and the Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Council for the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung land also overseeing the project.
The Victorian government, meanwhile, will contribute $287,000 for the sculpture, which will be officially unveiled next year. The statue will serve as a commemoration of both musicians’ lasting legacies, following Roach’s passing in July of this year. The legendary Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man first met Hunter in 1973, and the pair remained companions until Hunter’s passing at age 54 in 2010.
The statue’s Fitzroy location holds weight for the pair’s relationship, having both lived on the streets of inner-city Melbourne following years spent on reserves and missions as members of the Stolen Generation. Roach would go on to name his debut album, ‘Charcoal Lane’, after the Fitzroy street that was a meeting place known by the community.
Roach’s ‘Charcoal Lane’ song ‘Down City Streets’ chronicled he and Hunter’s experiences in Victoria and beyond, and was written by Hunter as a recount of her experience with homelessness. Hunter would go on to release her debut album ‘Thoughts Within’ in 1994, making history as the first first female First Nations artist to release a solo album.
Roach’s sister, Myrtle Evans, spoke of the statue’s significance at the announcement ceremony at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. “We shared many good times here together as a family,” she said. “Being back here reminds me of those times. I miss those times now. May the spirit of dear Archie and Ruby always be here.”
The sculpture marks the latest Victorian commemoration for the pair, following a similar monument erected in Hunter’s honour along the Murray River in May of this year. That same month, Roach’s song ‘Let Love Rule’ formed the core theme of this year’s Reclink Community Cup.
Following his passing, Roach was honoured with a public tribute in his hometown of Naarm/Melbourne, with sons Amos and Eban leading a funeral procession through the streets of the Victorian capital in August.