Kelly story lives on with gaol’s 10 year plan
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.”
STEPPING UP: Old Beechworth Gaol to improve experiences.