Victoria goldfields bid for World Heritage

Victoria's central goldfields want to be recognised as a World Heritage site, to attract investment.
Victoria's central goldfields want to be recognised as a World Heritage site, to attract investment.

A bid to gain world heritage status for sites in Victoria's historic goldfields won't affect local development, the mayor of Ballarat says.

Local councils from the goldfields region, which together represent about 17 per cent of the state's land, have joined an effort to have significant local areas listed on the world heritage register, in the hope of attracting investment and jobs.

The 13 councils are Ararat, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Moorabool, Mount Alexander Northern Grampians and Pyrenees.

Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney told AAP the bid will select important historical sites to form a tourism trail across the region, which would not constrain broader development.

"We're not trying to stymie the growth of regional Victoria ... we don't want to find ourselves in a situation where 17 per cent of the state is under unreasonable constraints," he said.

In Ballarat for example, it's expected the site of the Eureka rebellion would be part of the bid.

"Eureka is known nationally, but not necessarily internationally ... the gold rush was probably one of the most significant mass migration movements of the 19th century," Mr Moloney said.

The councils are each spending about $125,000, but want a further $500,000 from the state government to fund a site selection process, which can then go to state and commonwealth authorities for consideration.

Types of properties that will be considered include town halls, railway stations or botanic gardens and recognised archaeological sites on public land.

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

Mr Moloney said based on the example of the city of Cornwall in the UK, a listing could be expected to bring tourism worth between $20 million and $66 million to the economy.

There are already 20 world heritage sites in Australia, including the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and Budj Bim in Victoria.

Australian Associated Press