Central Goldfields World Heritage listing - Heritage Victoria answers your questions

Heritage Victoria answers your questions about the proposed World Heritage listing

What area is covered?

The Goldfields Site will take in discrete nodes/precincts  containing publically owned places that are considered ‘the best of the best’ and together form a self-evident system documenting the scope and enduring impacts of the Victorian Gold Rush. The spread would enable the entire region to share in the substantial benefits World Heritage Listing can deliver.


What will be in the nodes?

The nomination will be built around the region’s two existing National Heritage listings, the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park (Mount Alexander Shire) and Eureka Stockade Precinct (City of Ballarat). The additional places will be drawn from the most authentic and historically important public land/buildings/structures already listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. There would be no inclusion of private property unless they are crucial to strengthening outstanding universal values and supported by the owners.


What types of places?

The pool to be investigated comprises State-listed publically owned places associated with nineteenth century gold rush migration; democratic reform and social progress; government administration, services, and supplies;  law, order and health; and the quest for a civilised society.


What will the area for world heritage list be?

The exact area that forms part of the eventual world heritage nomination will be based around existing local and State heritage overlays.


What is World Heritage Listing?

World Heritage Listing is the highest international recognition of natural and cultural heritage values in the world.  UNESCO inscribe natural and cultural sites on the World Heritage List for their outstanding universal value to humankind.  Currently Australia has 19 places on the List, the majority being for natural values. The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens is Victoria’s only world heritage site and it is inscribed for solely cultural values. 


Why are we seeking nomination?

The World Heritage List is a major international brand which benefits cultural and natural tourism.


What will it mean for the region:

Will it stop development?

No, the same development controls that exist today would still apply as the necessary regulations to protect the heritage values of the goldfields are already in place. 

Will gold prospecting or mining have to stop?

No, it is part of the tradition, economy and history of the region.  Prospecting and mining would continue to be managed as they are at the moment to ensure they do not damage natural, Indigenous or historic heritage sites.


What economic benefits will it provide?

World heritage listing is a major tourism driver.  Places like Bath in England, Angkor Wat, Cambodia and Oporto in Portugal all benefit from the added international profile, visitation and tourism that world heritage listing can bring.


How will the World Heritage Site be managed?

The Federal Government have obligations under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention to ensure that world heritage listed sites are appropriate managed.  They are protected under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act. The Victorian Heritage Act also provides for the protection and management of world heritage sites in Victoria. Australian Government has already included the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park and the Eureka Stockade Gardens on its National Heritage List, which has not imposed any new controls or regulations.


Does this mean the Federal Government get control of Goldfields World Heritage Site and are responsible for management?

No, the existing control in place by the Victorian Government to protect the natural and cultural heritage will continue to apply and management would continue to reside at State level.  The Victorian Government will work with the Federal Government, the relevant councils and local people to ensure that world heritage values are maintained. 


Will there be costs attached?

There are costs in preparing the very comprehensive nomination and information required by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, which is generally met by the relevant State or Territory Government in partnership with the Commonwealth.  World heritage listing does not impose an additional burden on the owners or managers of world heritage sites.


How long will it take?

Achieving World Heritage Listing is a complex process which initially involves many steps, the first two being placed on the Australia’s national heritage list and then its World Heritage Tentative List. It is likely to take a few years with no guarantee of success, but participants agreed that each step of that journey would be value-added in terms of building the awareness of the region to drive added visitation and liveability and that sharing the rich stories of the Gold Rush was a priority action to better promote and market the Goldfields region.


What can the community do to support nomination?

Members of the Victorian community could write to The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for Energy and Environment, to express their support.


Why the Goldfields?

The Victorian Gold Rush that commenced in 1851 trebled Australia’s population in a decade, and made the State one of the richest and most socially progressive places on the earth. The Victorian Goldfields significance can be demonstrated:

-   For the Nation- the Victorian gold rush played a major role in drawing overseas immigrants into an existing indigenous and early agricultural cultural landscape, adding diverse social backgrounds, philosophical attitudes and religious beliefs to the colony, and in raising from the ground so much of the golden wealth which flowed into Australian and overseas markets, playing a substantial part in all those changes which gold wrought on Victoria and Australia. 

-   For the Worldthe region was radically transformed during the mid to late nineteenth century by shallow and industrial mining for gold. The remains of mines, along with new towns and cities, reflect a distinctive period of condensed and rapid economic and cultural formation. Together the areas are testimony, in an inter-linked and highly legible way, the power of gold as a nineteenth century phenomenon responsible for global mass migrations, the creation and integration new local systems/resources into the global economy.

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