Heritage Victoria

Overview

We respect Victoria’s post-contact historic heritage by retaining and managing places of importance to us as a community. These places may have aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, cultural, scientific or other special cultural values.

Heritage places are varied and include buildings, structures, objects, collections and archaeological sites and are classified according to their level of significance. They appear on different lists such as the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) as a place important to the State of Victoria. Other places are really important to the local community and can be found on the Local Government Heritage Overlay (HO), or as an archaeological site of State significance on the Victorian Heritage Inventory (VHI). Places on the registers are protected under legislation. There are also sites that have a high level of heritage value to the community but have not been included on any list. Heritage Victoria initiated the Bushfire Recovery Program in March 2020 to assess heritage sites impacted by the 2019/20 fires in East Gippsland, Towong and surrounding shires to not only assess VHR places but also those of community value. To date twenty-three sites on the VHR and HO were identified within the 2019/20 fire footprint and most have been assessed. We know that many archaeological sites were within the fire zones and these will be assessed within a separate initiative. It is anticipated more sites will be revealed in the Towong and Alpine Shires once our assessment team are able to access the area.

The sites included:

Gippsland

  • Houghtons Flat Gold Diversion Tunnel (VHR)
  • Deptford Mining Township (VHI)
  • Murrindal River Timber Truss Bridge (VHR)
  • Buchan Caves (VHR)
  • Stirling (Haunted Stream Complex) – community value
  • Victoria Falls Hydro-Electric Power Station, (VHR)
  • Hinnomunjie Timber Truss Bridge, (VHR)
  • Cobungra Timber Bridge, (VHR)
  • Gambetta Reef Gold Battery. (VHR)
  • Genoa Timber Truss Bridge (VHR)
  • Stringers Knob Watch Tower (VHR)
  • Wairewa Trestle Bridge – community value
  • Stoney Creek Trestle Bridge (VHR)
  • Pioneer Battery Site (VHR)
  • McKillops Bridge (VHR)
  • Wallaces Hut – community value
  • Good Hope Quartz Gold Mining PrecInct (VHR)
  • Harrisons Cut Gold Diversion Site (VHR)
Wairewa Trestle Bridge

Hume

  • Dart River Gold Battery, (VHR)
  • Glengarry Gold Battery, (VHR)
  • La Mascotte Battery, (VHR)
  • Young Australian Battery and Cyanide Mine (VHR)
  • Buckland River Sluicing Paddock (VHR)

What is happening?

Following the fire, it was important to visit these sites, assess the impact and record any damage so decisions could be made for rehabilitation and repair but also for future protection and long term management.

In response to the devastating 2019/20 bushfires in north east and east Victoria, DELWP Planning and Heritage Victoria initiated the Bushfire Recovery Program – Heritage. The main purpose is to undertake assessments of the known Victorian Heritage Register sites within the fire footprints in the east. The program will also deliver community engagement to explore what is important to the communities that have lost heritage or hold sites not on the register close to them.

One action from the fires that Heritage Victoria is pursuing, is the development of bushfire planning checklists to assist land managers :

Their purpose is to provide

  • a list of identified priority heritage places (within and specific to each region) based on level of vulnerability – current state of surrounding vegetation, construction materials, high risk location, accessibility, rarity as an example in the State, importance to the community etc.
  • recommendations of treatments/preparation of sites
  • maintenance schedules for on-going annual management into the future so there is confidence that these sites are as ready as possible for climate driven events and managers can be confident the sites are in good order and there are few tasks to top up the protection level specific to the event.
  • assurance that fire management mapping with heritage layering has meaning and priority sites are reflected on operational maps,
  • background, management and value details for each place are identified.

Who is involved?

Heritage Victoria have led a process with all land managers to assess and report on VHR and HO sites within the fire footprint but have also worked with local communities and land managers to identify other sites and values of significance to communities for future protection.

Heritage Victoria manages the Living Heritage Grants Program to assist communities to protect heritage places of value to them. Places that have public access, and in particular that were within local government areas affected by the 2019-20 fires are welcomed to apply. The next round of the Living Heritage Grants Program will open early in 2021.

Feature: Stringers Knob fire tower

Stringers Knob firetower was built in 1941 following the black Saturday fires of 1939, by local builder Clem Heather, as a result of the royal commission into the fires revealing the need for fire spotting towers across the landscape. Made using 2 logs spliced and bolted together – Ironbark for the bottom log and yellow stringy for the top. Buried 3m into the ground and supported by 6 guy wires. A small timber cabin was cantilevered on the top of the pole and supported by bracing underneath. Metal spikes staggered up the poles with fencing wire around the back formed the ladder and ‘fall prevention’ system up to the cabin. Located on Stringers Knob in Bete Belong North, overlooking the Bete Belong and Buchan Valley’s, Tara Range, Lower Snowy National Park, the foothills just north of Orbost, and across the coastal woodlands from Lakes Entrance to Conran. It was burnt in the 2019/20 East Gippsland bushfires, being from the run of fire down through the Buchan and Bete Belong Valley’s. The site is part of one of our Back Road tours which includes the Mottle and Tara Ranges, and a drive through the only known native population of Spotted Gum in the state. Close to popular campsites at Long Point and Sandy Point on the Snowy River and a short drive either way into Buchan or Orbost.

Over its lifetime there have been many to brave the climb and work as firespotters, one described himself as being a uni student in the 60’s and coming up to work the tower for the summer months, camping up in a little hut at the base of the tower. A forestry worker would bring him up supplies once a week and he would study and read books during the day. He often sunbaked on the roof of the cabin, and once day when the radio rang it gave him that much of a fright that he nearly fell off the roof. The hut that they slept in at the base of the tower had no floor and they just slept on blankets on the ground, once night he heard a rustle and felt some movement, he woke to a 6 foot long brown snake saying hello.

The fire tower at Stringers Knob was sadly lost to the fires. Heritage Victoria and Gippsland land managers recognise the importance of the story that surrounds the place. We are working to develop a project to ensure the story of the fire tower, the brave firespotters who stood watch and the events between its construction in 1941 and today are not forgotten.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or information you want to share about our heritage sites please contact – cbushfire@gmail.com

In addition you can find up to date information on our heritage registered sites by visiting https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/

Useful documents and links

Heritage Victoria

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