Parks Victoria has flagged the possibility of ambitious celebrations to mark the 170th anniversary of the discovery of gold in this region. They would take place in spring 2021. Another celebration possibility could be the 20th anniversary of the opening of the diggings park in 2022. The celebrations could take the form of conference discussions, re-enactments, musical events, art shows and other activities. Social, technical, environmental and indigenous perspectives would be included. There is a definite purpose in the proposal to promote the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park as a tourist destination, and the proposal so far has the support of Mount Alexander tourism officers.
As readers of this site will know, FOBIF is sceptical of the tendency of heritage events to glorify gold and everything to do with it, and to sideline or pay polite lip service to the collateral damage of the gold era: the outright trashing of the environment, and with it the completion of the dispossession of the Indigenous Australians.
So far, however, we are cautiously supportive of the idea. We’ll see what happens in the detail.
Wouldn’t it be good if this “celebration” went ahead, but not as simply a lure for tourists and yet another acting out of the story we all know and that many still find comfort in – the transformative event, GOLD ! Who wouldn’t be excited by it?
Through that event: prosperity, population, democracy, grand buildings and wide streets. And more: property for many, possession of country in a more widespread and deeper way, confidence. A colony well on the way to becoming a nation, as grand as any nation in the world.
But what if instead we were able to be more thoughtful and dig a little deeper. What if, on the basis of its extensive and dedicated attention to this country FOBIF’s voice was heard and respected alongside the voices of the Dja Dja wurrung, and other thoughtful voices. Voices able to put the events of that brief time into a longer and a broader context, a context that is not only about the past and what is now unchangeable, but a context that allows us to see our past and all our possibilities differently?