Cham­ber fires her­itage shell

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - NEWS - BY JAMIE KRONBORG jkro­n­borg@ne­me­

BEECH­WORTH Cham­ber of Com­merce is seek­ing sup­port from Indigo coun­cil­lors and lead­ing tourism man­agers for the ap­point­ment of a coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive who grasps the sig­nif­i­cance of the shire’s his­tory and her­itage as­sets.

Pres­i­dent El­iz­a­beth Ma­son has told coun­cil­lors the cham­ber was putting for­ward “some im­pas­sioned thoughts and rec­om­men­da­tions” about the need for a new chief ex­ec­u­tive who had a clear un­der­stand­ing of her­itage and its tourism ben­e­fits.

Indigo’s cur­rent chief ex­ec­u­tive, Gerry Smith, has re­signed to take up a se­nior po­si­tion with the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment.

The coun­cil’s cor­po­rate af­fairs di­rec­tor, Greg Pinker­ton, is to act as chief ex­ec­u­tive for up to a year while the coun­cil finds a re­place­ment for Mr Smith.

Ms Ma­son claimed Beech­worth, Ruther­glen, Chiltern and Yackan­dan­dah com­prised “un­doubt­edly Aus­tralia’s most sig­nif­i­cant, au­then­tic and well­p­re­served his­toric ar­eas”.

“We are unique, in­tact, com­mer­cially bou­tique and a se­cret to the wider world,” she has told coun­cil­lors, Tourism North East chief ex­ec­u­tive Am­ber Gard­ner, Indigo tourism man­ager Su­san­nah Doyle and Beech­worth Burke Mu­seum and her­itage precinct man­ager Cameron Auty, who has just been ap­pointed.

“( The shire) is un­ri­valled for its gold rush his­tory, bushranger leg­ends, Chi­nese in­flu­ence and mag­nif­i­cent Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture.

“It is very dis­tress­ing to ob­serve Aus­tralia’s na­tional her­itage list has not one en­try from the Indigo shire.

“There are 111 listed places across Aus­tralia of out­stand­ing sig­nif­i­cance to the na­tion and Beech­worth doesn’t ex­ist. This is noth­ing short of dis­grace­ful and our ( coun­cil) is re­spon­si­ble.

“We be­lieve Beech­worth de­serves world her­itage recog­ni­tion and a na­tional her­itage list­ing.”

Ms Ma­son im­plied that coun­cil­lors and its ex­ec­u­tive staff dis­played “on­go­ing in­dif­fer­ence and com­pla­cency” to­wards Indigo’s his­tory and her­itage as­sets.

She said this over­sight “must be rec­ti­fied and ( their at­ten­tion) re­fo­cussed”.

Mayor Jenny O’Con­nor told the Ovens and Mur­ray Ad­ver­tiser there was no doubt that her­itage as­sets were “ab­so­lutely in­trin­sic” in Indigo.

“But it’s not one or the other,” she said.

“We can have re­mark­able her­itage sites that can also cater for and ap­peal to con­tem­po­rary tourism. “That’s what we need. “Eco­tourism and cy­cling are huge eco­nomic driv­ers for tourism so we would be very fool­ish if we didn’t look at how we bal­ance in­no­va­tive tourism with our her­itage as­sets.

“I think we can do both with good plan­ning and well thought- out tourism strate­gies.”

Ms Ma­son said the coun­cil had done great work on cy­cling but it was not unique to the North East.

“… It should not come at the ex­pense of ne­glect­ing our unique his­tory,” she said.

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