HUGE infrastructure investment, increased visitor experiences and $1.5 billion to the Ballarat economy over 20 years highlight the extensive Sovereign Hill master plan to 2040, which will be released today.
As Sovereign Hill celebrates its 50th birthday, the three-staged master plan includes the creation of three brand new attractions, the 'Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades (CRAFT)', the connecting 'Australian Centre for Gold Rush Collections' and a new 'Gold Pavilion' which aims to give the public greater access to the significant cultural collection.
The staged approach for the master plan is to deliver the projects while ensuring preservation of historic collections. The first stage of the program is to develop the three new attractions, with all expected to be operational by 2023.
Stage two, which is scheduled to be completed by 2026, will see a new mine offering for visitors, while education upgrades in both classroom and accommodation will also be included.
By 2030, it is planned that the 'Education Hub' will be complete, while expansion of the Golden Point site will be undertaken.
An ongoing project titled 'Stories of Humanity' will be continually delivered across the thee stages.
The Sovereign Hill Museum Master Plan project has been made possible through a $10.1 million federal government National Tourism Icons Program, which in addition to preparing the Master Plan, will provide for the delivery of initiatives at the outdoor museum. Plans are for CRAFT and the Australian Centre for Gold Rush Collection to be up and running by 2022, with the Gold Pavilion to follow within a year.
The goal of CRAFT is to allow for teaching and learning for people using various tools and practices. It is planned that CRAFT will be located within the former Gold Museum with visitors invited to explore the world of rare and artisan trades through an active program of workshops.
Sovereign Hill chief executive Sara Quon said it is an important opportunity to collaborate with more makers from the local community, around the country and the world to share important skills.
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"As we implement this master plan over the coming years we will continue to work closely with our local community and stakeholders to ensure the full social and economic benefits are being achieved," Ms Quon said.
The Australian Centre for Gold Rush Collections will connect to CRAFT and will expand upon the existing storage of collection material housed at what will be a transformed Gold Museum. While both parts of the building will have separate and distinct entry spaces, a series of zones within the building will visually connect the two spaces.
The Gold Pavilion aims to be a "transformative orientation experience" which Ms Quon said is critical to maximising engagement.
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It will include 880m2 of collection display space and introduce visitors to the key themes of the living museum, the significance of the goldrush and its stories - the Diggings, Chinese Village, Mining technologies, key people - time periods and how to recognise, explore and engage in them.
It will also house three distinct exhibition spaces and will offer a retail experience showcasing products being made on site and regionally. The three exhibition spaces include a changing exhibition reflecting on Ballarat and the region, the ongoing allure of gold and a temporary gallery with changing exhibition programs.
Millions to be added to economy
MORE than 1200 jobs are planned to be created as Sovereign Hill launches its master plan which aims to add $1.5 billion to the Victorian economy over the next 20 years.
And by 2040, it is hoped that outdoor museum will be able to bring in a further $191 million to Ballarat and $202 million to the state annually.
On the back of a disastrous year caused by closures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday's delivery of the long-awaited 20-year master plan can be seen as a re-launch of the attraction.
By 2040, it is expected that students days will more than double from 109.693 this year to 277,200. Overall, visitation is tipped to more than double from 577,000 in 2018-19, to 1.4 million with international visitors to climb from 117,000 a year to 387,700.
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Volunteer hours are expected to increase to 70,000 hours while 374,000 training hours will be delivered over the next 20 years.
The master plan says Sovereign Hill's economic contribution to Victoria was previously assessed in 2015-16 as providing 1665 jobs and delivering $260 million in annual economic output. "Increased visitor numbers and spend from the master plan will further grow the Ballarat region and Victorian economy and assist in creating additional jobs," it says.
The 2020 annual report tabled in October said this year's pandemic had resulted in 150,000 fewer visitors to the attraction. That figure meant entrance takings were more than a quarter below the previous year's result. It is expected figures will again be low in next year's report as the attraction has been closed for much of the time since the start of July, although it has opened in limited form in the past month.
Sovereign Hill board president Craig Fletcher said the 50th anniversary was the perfect time to plan for the future. "Celebrating our previous 50 years and the generations that have come to visit us by launching this plan sets us up to ensure the next 50 is just as strong - it is incredible to be able to commemorate this milestone in such a way," he said.