Heritage Council Hearing

 

A hearing of the Heritage Council of Victoria regarding heritage listing of Banyule Flats and Warringal Parklands took place on Monday (30/3/15).  Commencing at 9.30 am the hearing lasted for approximately three and a half hours. I presented for FOB (refer submission at below link), John D'Aloia for Warringal Conservation Society, Emma Shorter, for Council together with Context Heritage consultants and Janine Rizzetti for Heidelberg Historic Society. On the other side was Heritage Victoria (opposing the listing) who did an overhead presentation including what I thought were some fairly ordinary photos of the area. In my view, some of their arguments were not well supported by evidence including comparison with other locations.  We addressed their key arguments I believe in a comprehensive manner.  Councillor Tom Melican came along to offer support which was much appreciated. We received some positive feedback on our submission and I think we were given a good hearing. There were a number of probing questions from the three member panel but, it is difficult to say which way it will go.  In any event, a decision will be handed down in four to six weeks time. 

I believe we put our best case forward, and the quality of written and verbal submissions were of a high standard which was recognised. Thanks to everyone for their support and assistance, thanks to Marion for her excellent work in making the final document look professional. John, for an excellent submission for Warringal, a formidable job of researching the history of WCS and the wider conservation movement. There is potential for a good thesis topic on this at a future date, I'd say. Thanks as noted to Tom Mellican for coming along and providing assistance generally including on some technical matters which otherwise would have left some gaps in submissions.   Either way, I believe the exercise was a worthwhile one and the research carried out and documentation compiled will be of value in the future, whichever way the decision goes. 

This area is an important part of the middle Yarra around which, much of our our cultural and colonial agricultural history is bound up. This includes the being the location of some of the most iconic paintings of the Heidelberg School artists, including Streeton, Conder, Roberts et al, who were based at nearby Mt Eagle farmhouse and painted along this section of the river. Some of their most important landscape images were painted here, including Streeton's Still Glides the Stream (1890), Golden Summer (1889), and Near Heidelberg (1890) and Conder's Yarra Heidelberg (1890).  It is also the location of some of our earliest colonial agricultural history, with Banyule Flats being the remainder the original 650 acre Banyule Estate, of which (the heritage listed) Banyule Homestead (c 1846), built for Joseph Hawdon, who overlanded from NSW in the early 1840's, still stands high on the escarpment overlooking Banyule Flats, from which it provides an impressive view across the wetlands. 

The conservation work over a long  period by WCS and others along the river played a significant part in the way we consider former farmland and open space, now public parkland in our planning and land use, ultimately leading in the 1970's under the Hamer administration, to the development the Green Wedges, which helped shape our city.

 

Dennis O'Connell

President, 

Friends of Banyule

 

 

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