Unprecedented regional partnership to aim for World Heritage goldfields listing

An unprecedented partnership of Central Victorian councils led by the cities of Ballarat and Greater Bendigo has progressed its bid to share the extraordinary story of the goldfields internationally by striving for a World Heritage listing.

The partnership of thirteen councils and regional tourism body Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive is aiming to raise the profile of the Central Victorian Goldfields and derive community benefits through social, cultural and economic opportunities.

These include building local jobs and attracting investment to deliver world-class visitor offerings.

The partnership hopes the State Government can support this transformative initiative and is seeking $500,000 to enable critical work to be commissioned over the next few months. Partners have already committed $125,000.

Funding is being sought through Regional Development Victoria’s $10 million ‘Investment Fast-Track Fund’, which was established to strengthen evidence-based planning needs to help regional projects fast-track to investment-ready stage.

This funding will help the group identify which sites could make the World Heritage list and what investment is needed to leverage the bid to benefit local jobs, communities and industry, including rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic.

This next stage will get the bid ready for World Heritage tentative listing for consideration by the Victorian and Australian Governments.

World Heritage listing aims to share the Central Victorian Goldfields story with people from across the globe and create social, cultural and economic opportunities for every community and person across the region.

Such opportunities aim to unlock the full potential of the region, bringing economic diversification, jobs, investment and tourism, and raise the socio-economic outlook for cities, towns and local communities.

The consortium represents close to half-a-million people encompassing nearly 40,000 square kilometres, which is 17% of the state.

If the World Heritage Listing bid is successful, the economic benefits through added visitation are conservatively estimated to deliver $25 million annually (National Institute of Economic and Industry Research) into the regional economy and possibly as high as $66 million.

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

Leading World Heritage experts have confirmed inscription of the Central Victorian Goldfields can be achieved, stating they are ‘the most extensive, coherent and best-surviving landscape anywhere, that illustrates the global gold rush phenomenon of the second half of the nineteenth century’ (Gamble 2020).

Properties selected would be the ‘best of the best’ and it is thought nominated sites could number between ten and twenty.

Types of properties that will be considered include publicly owned properties such as town halls, railway stations or botanic gardens and recognised archaeological sites on public land.

The process of selection will include wide community engagement.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Daniel Moloney

“Collectively our region has a world class heritage in the history of the goldfields, including the stories of First Nations’ Peoples. Few if any places in the world can physically demonstrate how influential and remarkable the quest for gold was, as we can. Together a World Heritage listing would help us package our heritage, give it true value and help us as a country, celebrate an asset that deserves world recognition.”

“We are confident the State Government will recognise the world class opportunity presented by the 13 regional local governments. The investment and collaboration to date by all member local governments has reflected the intent and desire to get this bid across the line.”

City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Cr Andrea Metcalf

“Individually, central Victorian municipalities have some amazing tourism products but collectively as a region we could be on the cusp of achieving something remarkable. A World Heritage listing would be the catalyst for so many opportunities built around the celebration of this remarkable legacy and for COVID-19 recovery.”

“To attain what could be viewed as the highest status in world heritage recognition does not come easily. Our collaboration has been inspirational, our dedication unrelenting and we are confident our proposal to the State Government to advance this incredible initiative to its next stage will be successful.”

Co-Patron of the Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage bid, The Hon Denis Napthine AO

“World Heritage listing is a proven, powerful catalyst. It mobilises all levels of government, local leadership, business, and communities. Not only would World Heritage listing be the region’s calling card to the rest of the world, but it will also make our region nationally competitive during the COVID-19 recovery period, bring investment and jobs, and build stronger, diverse and more sustainable economies and communities.”

Co-Patron of the Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage bid, The Hon John Brumby AO

“Victoria’s leaders have known since the 1980s that this bid has merit. It’s now time to have this heritage recognised globally. This is an incredible opportunity for regional Victorian communities to lead the way, working together in a highly motivated collaborative endeavour to stand tall on the world stage.”

Chair, Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, Chris Meddows-Taylor

“The Bid for World Heritage Listing provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors to discover the exciting richness and diversity of the central Victorian Goldfields and creates massive scope for a recovering tourism industry.”

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