Chamber fires heritage shell
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.