Two years after being relocated from her original home, St Barbara has returned to her namesake’s square. On December 4, 1999, the statue of the patron saint of mining was first unveiled and took prime position in the Kalgoorlie CBD. Almost exactly 24 years later — on December 3, 2023 — it was unveiled once again, after it was returned to the city centre following a short stay at the Museum of the Goldfields while St Barbara’s Square was redeveloped. Despite two years of debate about whether she should return to the area, or remain next to the Miners’ Memorial at the museum, Mayor Glenn Wilson said, in his mind, she was always coming home. “For me, St Barbara was always coming back to the square,” he said. “The original recommendation, when the design was all put together, was that St Barbara returns to the square. “Where in the square was the concern, but as you can now see under the beautiful tree, watching over the square ... pretty much pointed towards the Mt Charlotte operations if you draw a line.” Artist Nana Lye travelled to Kalgoorlie-Boulder to help unveil her bronze creation for the second time, and fittingly told her: “welcome home.” “I think it belongs here,” Ms Lye said. “It’s nice with the green. I think this is nice and she’ll be happy here.” The statue took Lye a solid six months of work, after being asked to create the piece at relatively short notice by St Barbara’s Festival founder Dick Scallan. Her original brief looked different, with a Greek goddess-inspired look to the patron saint who lived in the third century. “I said ‘this is a modern town in the 20th century’. It doesn’t need a Greek goddess, it won’t relate to a Greek goddess,” Lye said. “I feel so honoured as a woman sculptor that I could do a woman. What a dream. It’s the biggest thing I’ve done in my life. “To have it in the main square, in a town that I love, what else do you want?” The bronze statue has had a slight makeover with her legs and skirt showing some signs of ageing — but now, Lye said, she looks as good as new. She also told the Kalgoorlie Miner she thought it was a “great idea” to make St Barbara’s Square a central hub once again. “For kids, I think it’s really important to just have good art around and a variety of good art so it becomes a natural thing and not just ‘on Sundays we’ll do some culture’,” she said. St Barbara now looks out towards the new $16 million Kal City Centre project, which includes a water-misting and sound-playing overhead sculpture of the Super Pit, a stage and a water play area. It also includes a playground, with the aim to reinvigorate the square which has seen less foot traffic since Kmart and Coles moved from the area.