Heritage chief weighs ‘stunning resource’
BURKE museum and Beechworth historic precinct and Indigo heritage manager Cameron Auty believes the immediate task in his new role is to devise strategies that integrate the museum and precinct.
The former collections manager of Museums Australia (Victoria) said it was “a pretty exciting time for the heritage-listed museum and precinct”.
“There’s a lot happening in the wider tourism sector across Indigo and (Indigo council) tourism manager Susannah Doyle has thrown me straight into it,” Mr Auty said.
“There are amazing things happening here in terms of reimagining the whole area – there’s master planning going on, there’s the old Beechworth gaol redevelopment – so the number one goal for me is to make sure that the historic precinct and the Burke are really well integrated into the wider tourism framework.
“I also want to make sure that the staff we have here – the tour guides are such an amazing resource, a bunch of people with so much local knowledge and who provide a such a great service – are really front and centre in the tourism offer that we present.”
Mr Auty said Burke museum and the Beechworth precinct were somewhat separated, as were the teams which worked in each of them, and he envisaged integration that would create a holistic group.
“For this reason I’ll spend more time in the historic precinct than just here (in the museum),” he said.
“My role is as manager of heritage across Indigo shire, too.
“I’ll be really trying to make sure that we build links between this organisation and surrounding areas.
“That’s been my background – working in community collections, digitisation and museums and heritage and arts sector.
“I think there’s a great opportunity – and they’ve got the resource here in this heritage precinct which is so well supported in terms of staffing and council funding compared with other shires.
“So if we can get this group to support the wider community that’s what I’ll be pushing for.”
Mr Auty said much of what he anticipated was yet to be discussed.
“It will probably take a little while to settle in here before reaching out to the wider community, but my previous job was running a program on community collections digitisation, and making sure that groups across Victoria could digitise their collections,” he said.
“I’ll be pushing heavily for that to happen here.
“We need some way by which we can have our collections exposed on-line – because the Burke doesn’t have a presence there yet – so I’ll be pushing for something along those lines and also making sure that other groups around Indigo can join us in that.
“I see a new future where all of the collections across Indigo are on-line and shared in some form of ‘North East collections portal’.
“That ties into the tourism strategy because we are such a centre of history and heritage up here and I want people across Victoria to see that.
“If they can see all the amazing stories and objects and artworks and all of the strange and wonderful things here – and they’ve got access to that – we will get them talking about the North East as a place to come for history and heritage.”
Mr Auty said it was one of the “the great tensions” in heritage management that historic towns like Indigo’s also had to work for life today.
“We’re talking about living communities and people who have needs and people living in a living town and not a museum,” he said.
“But, on the other hand, this place is such a stunning historical resource that we have to make sure we’re using it in sustainable ways and in ways that keep people excited.
“People want to live here – but there is that sense that it’s very settled as a historical place.
“How we maintain it as a living community is something we’re going to have to think about a lot.”
VISION: Burke museum and historic precinct and Indigo heritage manager Cameron Auty with precinct guide Ian Sinclair in Beechworth’s former colonial government centre.