Castlemaine and surrounds are in plum position to benefit from a momentous bid to see the wider Central Victorian Goldfields attain World Heritage listing.
In a key document highlighting why the site is significant and should be given UNESCO World Heritage listing, a UK World Heritage expert has described the Central Victorian Goldfields as the best-surviving example from the 19th century gold rush.
Mount Alexander, Macedon Ranges and Hepburn Shire Councils have partnered in a campaign with 10 other 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.
In it he 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”.
Newly named co-patrons for the World Heritage Listing bid, former Victorian state premiers John Brumby AO and Denis Napthine AO, joined Mr Gamble and the 13 central Victorian Councils across the Goldfields in a virtual meeting last Thursday to discuss a pathway for making the bid succeed.
“Victorian leaders have known since the 1980s that this bid has merit,” Mr Brumby said.
“The region’s heritage is unquestionably among 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,” Mr Brumby said.
Mount Alexander Shire’s manager of economy and culture, David Leathem, also chairs Bendigo Regional Tourism.
He told the Midland Express that gaining the World Heritage designation stood to significantly boost the entire region’s profile “to one of national and international significance”.
“To get that designation could be five years or more away,” Mr Leathem said.
To succeed, the bid must first obtain both state and federal approval and Mr Leathem said the next step involved preparing a statement of universal values for the site.
Ultimately, if successful, the potential for economic benefit was significant, he said.
“It’s about how the region then leverages off that,” he said.
“It’s about bringing that history to life.”
Mount Alexander Shire mayor, Cr Christine Henderson, agreed the bid held real potential to stimulate new economic opportunities for the area.
“I’ve been following it over the years and originally it was just to put up the Castlemaine Diggings for the World Heritage bid,” Cr Henderson said.
“A few years ago it was negotiated between the councils that it would be more appropriate to bring the wider region in.”
Adding momentum, the bid has also just received a financial boost with an additional $50,000 from Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, in addition to $50,000 it had already injected into the campaign alongside $50,000 from the Victorian Government.
The additional funds will now be used to develop publicity material promoting the World Heritage value of the region, including a website, social media campaigns and branding, plus a series of Goldfields stories to drive visitor interest.
“It’s a significant development,” Cr Henderson said.
“I think people who know the area well should start thinking about how they organise their tours, how they take people out into the landscape.”
Victorian Goldfields Tourism executive chairman, Chris Meddows-Taylor, said it was important to now build on the stamp of approval the bid had received to date.

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