Kelly story lives on with gaol’s 10 year plan

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - NEWS -

IT has been al­most 140 years since Ned Kelly sat in the Old Beech­worth Gaol await­ing his com­mit­tal hear­ing at the Beech­worth Court House but the pas­sion and in­ter­est in the man and his story is as strong to­day as it was then.

In 2016, twenty lo­cal fam­i­lies and three phil­an­thropic or­gan­i­sa­tions, led by the Beech­worth based reg­is­tered char­ity, the Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Ru­ral En­trepreneur­ship (ACRE), raised $2.7M to pur­chase the Old Beech­worth Gaol be­cause they were in­spired by a sim­ple idea: ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties tak­ing charge of their own fu­tures.

It’s taken two years to de­velop a 10-year plan which iden­ti­fies sev­eral po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties for the his­toric site.

Due to the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the Old Gaol, the age of the build­ings, the in­ter­est and pas­sion of the Beech­worth com­mu­nity and the need to cre­ate a vi­able as­set for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, the Plan has been rig­or­ous, with in­de­pen­dent eval­u­a­tion of the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of the ideas.

Key com­po­nents to the fu­ture suc­cess of the Old Beech­worth Gaol cen­tre on;

A site that con­trib­utes to a strong re­gional econ­omy, em­ploy­ment for young lo­cal peo­ple and re­spect for the his­tory of the site and en­hanced tour prod­uct around the Ned Kelly story and its in­flu­ence on Aus­tralia as a young and de­vel­op­ing na­tion

As the own­ers of the Old Beech­worth Gaol re- fine their plans for the Kelly ex­pe­ri­ence, a re­cent visit to Scot­land and Ireland has pro­vided some valu­able in­sights that will help with the de­tailed plan­ning oc­cur­ring over the next six months.

Clay­ton Neil, gen­eral man­ager of the Old Beech­worth Gaol was able to at­tend a num­ber of rel­e­vant tourism venues dur­ing the visit.

“The Old Beech­worth Gaol project re­quires sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and be­ing able to get be­hind the scenes and un­der­stand what a con­tem­po­rary tourism ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tred around his­tory looks like was in­valu­able” Mr Neil said.

“It was great to see first hand how they in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy, re-en­act­ments, arte­facts and pop cul­ture into the ex­pe­ri­ence. All of these are ex­tremely rel­e­vant for how the Kelly story is told, not just at the Old Beech­worth Gaol, but right across the re­gion.”

The own­ers of the Old Beech­worth Gaol will soon be­gin the de­tailed de­sign of the staged de­vel­op­ment of the Kelly ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This is a once in a gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity to de­velop a world-class ex­pe­ri­ence that will put a spot­light on Beech­worth’s his­tory and her­itage. Our vi­sion is to tell the Kelly story through art, theatre, arte­facts and sto­ry­telling,” Mr Neil said.

“We are look­ing for­ward to shar­ing these ideas with the com­mu­nity over the com­ing months, seek­ing in­put and feed­back to shape an ex­pe­ri­ence that the com­mu­nity can be proud of.”

PHOTO: Coral Cook­sley

STEP­PING UP: Old Beech­worth Gaol to im­prove ex­pe­ri­ences.

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