Unprecedented regional partnership receives funding
The Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive in conjunction with a partnership of 13 central Victorian local governments led by the City of Ballarat and the City of Greater Bendigo has secured $500,000 to shortlist potential World Heritage sites within the region and prepare a masterplan for increased regional investment.
The partnership is aiming to raise the profile of the Central Victorian Goldfields, accelerate regional recovery and provide long-term economic, social and cultural benefits for the Central Victorian Goldfields region through a World Heritage listing and targeted investment.
On Thursday the Minister for Planning, Hon Lizzie Blandthorn MP, advised the partnership that the Victorian Government will support progression of the bid for World Heritage Listing. This paves the way for a submission to the Australian Government to add the Central Victorian Goldfields onto Australia’s World Heritage tentative list.
The $500,000 was received through Regional Development Victoria’s Investment Fast-Track Fund, which takes projects from the ideas phase to become investment and development-ready, supporting planning, design and business case works for councils, community organisations and the private sector. The partnership is co-contributing $125,000 to deliver this part of the project.
The funding will enable critical work to be commissioned. This will help identify sites that may have the attributes needed to make the World Heritage list, as well as detail the investment needed to optimise regional economic benefits, create new jobs and help strengthen the region after the COVID-19 pandemic and recent flooding events.
The project includes identifying a series of ‘World Heritage Journeys’ to ensure visitors to the region will be able to explore all the region’s heritage and visitor experiences and that all communities can share the benefits of greater visitor expenditure and generate local jobs.
Such opportunities aim to unlock the full potential of the region, broadening economic opportunities by bringing new jobs, investment, and tourism, and raising the social and economic profile of the region. This region represents close to half-a-million people encompassing nearly 40,000 square kilometres, a considerable, 17 per cent of the state.
The World Heritage Listing and World Heritage Journeys have the capacity to support Victoria’s 2026 Commonwealth Games and deliver a tangible long-term legacy for the region. Experience in the United Kingdom has demonstrated that spectators want to travel beyond the host cities, and the private sector needs a reason beyond the ‘sugar hit’ of the Games to invest in new accommodation to support increased visitor numbers.
An Economic Benefit Assessment, released 6 October 2022, identified that the World Heritage Listing will bring many benefits including an additional 2.2 million visitors, over the first 10 years, better conservation of and more investment in the region’s significant heritage places and increase the attractiveness of the region for new residents as a place to live and work.
Importantly, the report highlights the capacity of World Heritage listing plus targeted infrastructure investment to spread tourism benefits more evenly across the region, not just in the major tourist areas of Ballarat and Bendigo.
“We thank the State Government for recognising this opportunity presented by 13 regional local governments and for giving us their full support to take the bid forward to Canberra. The funding being provided will enable us to provide the case for World Heritage Listing and a roadmap for targeted public and private investment that will transform our region. This is a significant step towards achieving our goal of having Australia’s Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage listed and a major win for the region.”
“To attain what could be viewed as the highest status in world heritage recognition does not come easily. As a region our collaboration has been inspirational, our dedication unrelenting and today we stand together and thank the State Government for recognising and rewarding the incredible potential this initiative will mean not just for the region, but for Australia. We look forward to presenting the World Heritage case and a transformative regional investment master plan in the very near future.”
“The masterplan which has been funded will enable locations big and small throughout the region to share in the massive economic benefits which increased visitation from World Heritage Listing will bring. So often small locations have rich gold rush secrets but struggle to attract sufficient visitation to support their businesses. The carefully constructed heritage travel journeys developed will include not only include nominated World Heritage Listing sites but many other locations, disbursing the investment and benefits. This will be especially beneficial after pandemic and flooding restrictions.”
The Local Government partnership:
- 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
- Mount Alexander Shire
- Northern Grampians Shire
- Pyrenees Shire.