I am very proud to be a patron of the bid to have the Goldfields declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a former State Premier—and before that, as Member of the Federal Parliament for Bendigo—I’ve been passionate about securing World Heritage status for the Goldfields for more than 30 years. Growing up in the region I have long been aware of our fascinating past: of a time when 40 per cent of the world’s gold came from Victoria in what was the world’s most profound, long-lasting and transformative nineteenth-century gold rush.
It’s time to have that heritage recognised globally.
The case is strong. The Goldfields region has a rich industrial, social, multicultural, political and scientific story to tell. The gold rush transformed the area. New towns were designed according to the latest architectural principles, with wide streets and new courthouses, town halls, prisons and schools. Railways were built to handle the growing demand for transport. New technologies allowed new kinds of mining. More than 350,000 people came to try their luck from Great Britain and Ireland, China, the United States and Europe—and 80 per cent of them decided to stay. The new colony doubled its population between 1860 and 1900. And our democracy was changed forever following the uprising at the Eureka Stockade.
The World Heritage bid is also an opportunity to recognise the stories, struggles and achievements of local Indigenous peoples from across the lands of the Barengi Gadjin (the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples), Dja Dja Wurrung, Eastern Maar, Taungurung, Wadawurrung, Wurundjeri and Yorta Yorta peoples. And a key strength of the bid is that gold mining and prospecting is still continuing in the region. This adds a richness and depth to the bid that increases its likelihood of success.
Since leaving politics I have chaired a number of for-profit and not-for-profit boards. I’m very aware of the need to increase economic activity in Victoria, particularly in the regions and particularly as we recover from the economic hit from COVID-19. UNESCO World Heritage listing is one of the strongest tourism brands a region can have. 15 years ago, the towns of Cornwall and West Devon in the United Kingdom achieved World Heritage recognition of a number of former tin mining sites in their region. Since then more than $175 million has been invested to support the local tourist trade. Many tourists make a point of visiting World Heritage sites wherever they go around the world, and many more will make a special trip to Victoria to see the rich repository of historical and environmental treasures the Goldfields has to offer. As Chancellor of La Trobe University, which has a campus in Bendigo, I believe World Heritage listing will increase interest in the state, and encourage international students out into the regions.
Finally, World Heritage recognition will bring investment and with it, jobs. It will bring improvement to amenities and the regeneration of local environments. It will help make the Goldfields, already a fantastic place to live, even better.
I’m proud to be joining with my co-patron, former Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, and with 13 regional councils to support our bid team who, with the help of Indigenous specialists, historians and archaeologists from local and international universities, will make the case for World Heritage status for the Central Victorian Goldfields. I would encourage all residents to stay informed and get involved.
The Hon John Brumby served for more than 10 years as Treasurer and then Premier of Victoria, six years as Leader of the Victorian Opposition and seven years as Federal MHR for Bendigo during the period of the Hawke Government. Since retiring from politics, Mr Brumby has accepted a number of appointments in both the business and not-for-profit sectors, including Chair of the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) Superannuation Fund, Chair of Citywide Service Solutions Pty Ltd, Chair of BioCurate Pty Ltd, Chairperson of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust and Chair of the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Denis Napthine served as the Premier of Victoria in 2013 and 2014.
Dr Napthine had a long and successful 27-year career as Member of the Victorian Parliament proudly representing South West Victoria. He served as Premier, as a Minister in three Governments and as Opposition Leader.
Among his key Ministerial appointments, he served four years as the first Minister for Regional Cities, which included Ballarat and Bendigo.
Living in Port Fairy, Dr Napthine continues to be an extremely active and passionate advocate for regional and rural Victoria.
Denis Napthine grew up on his family’s farm at Winchelsea. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in Veterinary Science and subsequently worked as a country Vet before entering politics.
He also obtained a Masters Degree in Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine) from Melbourne University and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Deakin University.
Throughout his political career, Dr Napthine was a strong and effective advocate for decentralisation and the promotion of opportunities and quality of life in regional and rural areas.
Since retiring from politics, Dr Napthine has continued to serve the community as Chair of the National Regional Rural and Remote Education Strategy, Chair of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group, Patron Solve Disability Services, Ambassador Share Your Care (Foster Care), Ambassador Standing Tall (youth mentoring) and as a Director GMHBA community member owned not-for-profit health insurance and care company.
In June 2020, Dr Napthine was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his services to the community, Parliament and Veterinary Science.
Denis Napthine is particularly enthusiastic about the Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage bid as it provides a unique opportunity to deliver appropriate and warranted recognition of the magnificent cultural heritage of these Goldfields as well as delivering significant economic and tourism opportunities to this region.
This powerful bid is built on an absolutely unique heritage of Eureka and democracy, the birth of multicultural Australia, the spirit of free enterprise and adventure, Aussie mateship and enormous wealth creation together with a wonderful built heritage in a very special natural environment.
Dr Napthine is confident that with the great support of 13 local Councils, the local communities, State and Federal Governments, this very worthy bid will very appropriately deliver World Heritage recognition to the Central Victorian Goldfields.