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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

26 January 2005

New listings recognise Australia's achievements


Australia's economic and scientific achievements have today been recognised with the inclusion of two more places in Australia's new National Heritage List.

The contribution of the gold rush to Australia's economic development was acknowledged with the addition of the Castlemaine Diggings in Victoria, Australia's best-preserved site from the gold rush era.

The start of Australia's great tradition of Antarctic research was marked with the addition of Mawson's Huts in Antarctica, established by Australia's heroic Antarctic expeditioner Douglas Mawson.

In announcing the listings, Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said the two places revealed how Australia had been shaped by great events and individual achievements.

"Our new National Heritage List includes places that add outstanding heritage value to the nation and that's why they will be protected by the Australian Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," Senator Campbell said.

"The list includes places that symbolise what has made Australia the great country it is today. It is a list that defines our nation so it is fitting that both the Castlemaine Diggings and Mawson's Huts are included.

"The Castlemaine Diggings site highlights the role that the gold rush played in unleashing a wave of immigration to Australia, which helped make us the diverse multicultural society we are today. The wealth generated from the goldfields also underpinned the much of the early development of Australia.

"The gold at Castlemaine was close to the surface, meaning people with only the basic equipment of a pick and shovel could work the area. As a result, thousands flocked to the goldfields to stake their claim.

"Their activities have left an indelible mark on the landscape and provided a rare snapshot of how people lived and worked on the goldfields in the 1850s.

"Some remarkable things have been preserved, such as miners huts, carriage tracks and the remains of Chinese market gardens. Shallow shafts, the footings of water wheels and frameworks supporting deeper mining operations also show the successive and more sophisticated steps that people took to extract gold from the harsh landscape," Senator Campbell said.

Sixty years after this rush, the dream of discovery also inspired a mining engineer and geologist named Douglas Mawson to tackle an even harsher landscape on the Antarctic continent.

"The huts that Douglas Mawson built in Antarctica are a symbol of Australia's pioneering role in the exploration of the vast Antarctic continent," Senator Campbell said.

"I was proud to help establish the AAP Mawson's Hut Foundation as Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment Minister in 1996. The foundation successfully conducted a number of voyages to Commonwealth Bay to restore the huts to their original condition.

"The research and survey work carried out during his early expeditions laid the foundations for what is our world renowned Antarctic Research Program today.

"Much of what we are now discovering about the weather, the oceans, the plant and animal life and the atmosphere of the Antarctic continent is built on Mawson's early work.

"In 1911, with the nation cheering him on, Mawson ventured as a hero into a largely unknown environment, confident that his exploration of the Antarctic continent would help make Australia richer in both scientific knowledge and in resources.

"He established the first base for scientific and geographical discovery in Antarctica by Australians and from four simple huts in the fiercest environment on Earth, he set out to learn as much as he could about the land, the ocean, the weather, the rocks and the forces that carved out Antarctica.

"He stayed there for two years. He risked death. A number of his colleagues died on the expedition but the work he did in that isolated, terrible environment and on his subsequent trips, have had an enormous impact on the growth of our nation and continues to inspire among others, the 150 people based in Australia's Antarctica stations over summer who follow in his footsteps," Senator Campbell said.

Two key themes of the National Heritage List are Building our Nation and An Island of Diversity. More than 60 places have so far been nominated to the list including many natural, Indigenous and historic sites.

Further information on the National Heritage List can be found at www.deh.gov.au/heritage/national.

Media contact:
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia