World heritage expert praises significance of central Victorian goldfields

A UK World Heritage expert has described the landscape of the Central Victorian Goldfields as the best-surviving example from the 19th century gold rush in a key document that explains why the site is significant and should be given UNESCO World Heritage listing.

The City of Greater Bendigo and City of Ballarat are currently leading a campaign on behalf of 13 councils across the Goldfields region to inscribe significant gold rush-era sites on the World Heritage list.

Barry Gamble, author of the successful Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage inscription, has developed a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value to help progress the bid and in it calls the Central Victorian Goldfields “…the most extensive, coherent and best-surviving landscape anywhere, that illustrates the global gold rush phenomenon of the second half of the 19th century.”

Mr Gamble’s work for the Goldfields bid has also been tested with national and international experts.

Newly named co-patrons for the World Heritage Listing bid, The Hon. John Brumby AO and The Hon. Denis Napthine AO, will today join Mr Gamble and the 13 central Victorian Councils across the Goldfields in a virtual meeting to discuss a pathway for making the bid a success.

Mr Brumby said he was delighted to formally join the bid as co-patron and excited by the momentum it was gaining.

“Victorian leaders have known since the 1980s that this bid has merit. The region’s heritage is unquestionably amongst the best in the world and tells an important and wonderful story about the world and its social and economic development. We also know that World Heritage listing, as well as the journey to achieve it, can achieve strong regional and community development, supporting tourism COVID-19 recovery and jobs – a second gold rush for the region, which couldn’t come at a more needed time,” he said.

Dr Napthine said he was also very pleased to support the bid and encouraged communities to remain engaged in the process.

“The recent and successful bid to list the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in South West Victoria on the World Heritage List was a long process but it has put the region on the map. Like Budj Bim, the bid to list the Central Victorian Goldfields is a terrific way for the whole community to benefit in so many ways including driving the regional economy through added tourism. I am very committed to helping make that a reality for the goldfield’s region. We must support our regions – they are vital to the future of our state and our country,” he said.

The bid will today also receive an additional $50,000 from Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, in addition to $50,000 it has already injected into the campaign and $50,000 that has been received from the Victorian Government.

The additional funds will be used to develop publicity material that will promote the World Heritage value of the region, including a website, social media campaigns and branding and a series of exciting stories of the Goldfields to drive added visitor interest and engagement.

Chair Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, Chris Meddows-Taylor, said it was important to build on the stamp of approval the bid has received to date.

“The added injection of $50,000 to promote the region will not only support the bid but create early and tangible benefits for industry in the Covid-19 recovery environment,” Mr Meddows-Taylor said.

Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke said she was pleased by the bid’s international support.

“We have something very special to offer and we’re receiving the best advice possible on how to achieve this outcome for our communities and drive future economic opportunities for the region,” Cr O’Rourke said.

City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor said international scrutiny of the potential for listing the goldfields was essential for moving the bid forward.

“To be able to meet with Barry today and understand more about the listing process and our standing in the world when it comes to conserving and promoting our gold rush heritage, has been an important next step,” Cr Taylor said.

Cr O’Rourke and Cr Taylor, along with all local government partners, thanked Mr Brumby, Dr Napthine and the Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive for their strong commitment to the bid, and also Mr Gamble for his expertise and optimism in believing the bid could be a success.

The Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage bid Local Government partners are: Ararat Rural City, Campaspe Shire, Central Goldfields Shire, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Bendigo, Golden Plains Shire, Hepburn Shire, Loddon Shire, Macedon Ranges Shire, Moorabool Shire Council, Mount Alexander Shire, Northern Grampians Shire and Pyrenees Shire Councils.

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