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

RUSH! Animation by Avenue.Design

Following the advice of World Heritage experts in 2023, the investigation area now encompasses not just Central Victoria but areas further afield, which now embraces the more ambitious title of the Victorian Goldfields World Heritage Bid.

To achieve this, a program is underway to get the bid to tentative listing stage for consideration by the State of Victoria and Australian Governments.

This includes developing the bid, growing the region’s profile, building local capacity and attracting investment to deliver world-class visitor offerings and ultimately, securing World Heritage listing.

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 that inscription of the Victorian Goldfields can be achieved, telling us 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).

The  opportunity

World Heritage listing of the Victorian Goldfields in recognition of its outstanding global heritage significance can be a major catalyst for transformative regeneration of the region.

Fifteen local governments, led by the Cities of Ballarat and Greater Bendigo, have partnered to progress the listing and unlock its full potential.

Find out more about us, the partners, the bid team, projects and how to get involved.

The bid provides an opportunity to raise the socio-economic profile and outlook of the region’s cities, towns and local communities. Parts of our region are thriving, but other parts are among the most socially disadvantaged areas in the country and many are experiencing population decline. This is coupled with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Experience in other disadvantaged areas shows that World Heritage listing, when harnessed fully, can bring more and new investment, revitalise and reposition regions, create new opportunities for communities and secure jobs and young people’s futures.

The unique building blocks are the region’s gold rush story, heritage assets and international significance.

Due to the devastating impacts to the visitor economy from COVID-19, the urgency to support the region’s capacity to recover and thrive is paramount. The Victorian Goldfields World Heritage Bid now plays a critical role for the partnership as a catalyst for the recovery and regeneration of the regions.

The vision

To secure World Heritage listing to share the extraordinary story of Australia’s Victorian Goldfields with people from across the globe – the global mass movement of people, formative social and political processes and a spectacular period of world trade, industrial and commercial expansion, all showcased in the world’s best preserved goldrush landscapes, gold towns and some of the world’s most notable historic gold cities– and create social, cultural and economic opportunities for every community and person across the regions.

Securing a World Heritage listing will bring significant benefits for regions. It will have a positive impact on the lives of over half a million people who live in the regions – around 20% of Victoria.

Interview with Barry Gamble, UK World Heritage expert about the benefits of gaining World Heritage listing. Produced by Wind & Sky Productions, 2020.

‘Victorian Goldfields is an exceptional cultural landscape that is directly and tangibly associated with the transnational phenomenon of gold rushes that date from 1849-1900’

- Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the Victorian Goldfields

The approach

The World Heritage approach for the Central Victorian Goldfields models the best practice Cornwall West Devon Mining Landscape which involved listing ten distinct and highly significant areas to form what is known as a serial listing where a series of individual sites from across the region are listed, bringing greater social and regional development benefits to the entire region.

A World Heritage listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields will bring dual benefits: visitors will enjoy the wider Goldfields experience centred on the UNESCO World Heritage label; crucially it will also bring pervasive and transforming benefits to the whole region. The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research has conservatively estimated an added 2% (or $25 million) in visitation to the Goldfields region each year.

The timeframe

The process for building the bid has begun with a view to submitting a bid by the Victorian Government to the Australian Government for consideration in 2022. The timeframe to become World Heritage listed could take around five years or more.

Indications from international World Heritage experts is that the Central Victorian Goldfields are exceptional and the bid has a good chance of success!

Details about the journey to inscription to date, can be found here.

The sites

The key focus on the sites to be considered for World Heritage listing is a small series of only the most authentic, intact and globally significant sites and buildings. Most, if not all, will be publicly owned and already protected on lists like the National Heritage List, the Victorian Heritage Register & Inventory, and in local planning schemes. In no way is there any consideration of the listing encompassing the entire Goldfields region.

The listing would be against the backdrop of the thousands of other sites and buildings that are already recognised as of great heritage value across the region. World Heritage experts have advised that development can and will still occur, and prospecting and mining activities would continue, and will be managed as they are presently. In fact, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, the environment, prospecting and mining are all part of the region’s continuing story and World Heritage listing.

The process includes wide community engagement and we encourage stakeholders and the community to get involved by registering as a member to stay up to date and participate with all the latest happenings and activities.

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