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What is the idea of the World Heritage Listing of the Central Victorian Goldfields?

There is considerable interest (and concern) about what a proposal to seek World Heritage Listing of the Central Victorian Goldfields would mean and particularly how it would affect gold mining and prospecting. This article sets out to answer the most commonly asked questions.

Is there an application for World Heritage Listing?

No application has been prepared or made. Thirteen Councils are seeking state government funding to undertake the research to determine whether an application is justified and whether it would be supported. It is estimated, based on other Australian examples, that this process could take three to six years at least. Any application requires support by the Victorian and Australian governments before it can be submitted to UNESCO.

What properties would be listed?

No decision has been made on any properties to be listed. It is expected up to about 20 properties could be listed. These would be “the best of the best”, e.g. the best town hall, post office, law courts, Mechanics Institute, botanical gardens, railway station and so on. Buildings on public land owned by the state or local Councils would be considered. Probably two or three representative small area archaeological mining sites on public land would be also included. It is unlikely any private buildings or sites could be listed and only then if the owner supported listing. It is likely only buildings and sites already recognised and listed for their heritage value by Councils and Heritage Victoria would be listed. Selection of buildings and sites would be a lengthy process with wide community engagement.

World Heritage Listing has been a huge boost to regions where it is in place. Hundreds of places around the world have been listed and the evidence is very strong that it has created long term employment.

Would gold mining and prospecting still be able to be undertaken if there was World Heritage Listing?

Absolutely. Continued gold mining and prospecting is essential to telling the story of this region. There is no proposal to change any of the conditions under which gold mining and prospecting is undertaken by companies or persons. Mining in accordance with permits, and the exercise of a Miners Right across the goldfields, is part of the region’s heritage, culture and story. World Heritage Listing is proposed because gold mining is core and integral to the region’s story. It is the gold mining heritage and what it created and built that would be recognised by the listing.

What role does UNESCO play if a building or site was listed?

UNESCO has no say in how any building or site is used. UNESCO can remove a listing if the government and community cannot show they are protecting and conserving listed buildings and places.

Prepared by the Cities of Ballarat and Greater Bendigo Council. Representatives from both Councils are available to meet with any group or organisation who wants more information.

If the World Heritage Listing bid is successful the economic benefits through added visitation are conservatively estimated to deliver $25 million annually into the regional economy and possibly as high as $66 million.

As the 12 municipalities in the consortium extend into surrounding tourism regions, the VGTE will work with neighbouring regional tourism boards so they are involved in developments and are able to leverage from these for their own planning and activities.

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