SHMA $10M National Tourism Icon
An artist’s concept of the new Sovereign Hill entry.
Michelle Smith, Federal government’s $10.1 million grant for Sovereign Hill’s 50th birthday, The Courier, 20 April 2019
Sovereign Hill is set to receive a $10.1 million cash injection to help redevelop facilities and exhibitions ahead of its 50th anniversary next year.
The funding, made through the federal government’s Tourism Icons package, will help redevelop the Gold Museum, upgrade the entrance building, improve signage, enhance the popular ‘digging area’ and educational facilities, and create a centre of excellence for rare trades.
Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham will make the official announcement at the MADE of Ballarat Pop-Up Store in Melbourne on Saturday alongside Sovereign Hill chief executive Sara Quon and president Damien Butler.
Minister Birmingham said the funding boost for Sovereign Hill would help enhance the visitor experience at one of Australia’s famous historical and cultural tourist attractions.
“For almost 50 years it has educated and wooed tens of millions of visitors from around Australia and the world, and this funding boost will help ensure its rich history continues to be shared with future generations,” he said.
“Sovereign Hill brings to life Australia’s gold rush era through its famous main street, costumed characters and stunning sound-and-light show, and we want to further enhance the visitor experience.”
Labor quickly promised to match the $10 million funding to ensure the 50th anniversary Sovereign Hill upgrades would go ahead regardless of next month’s election result.
“Sovereign Hill is a major local employer and a major tourism drawcard both nationally and internationally,” said Ballarat Labor MP Catherine King.
“Whether it’s schoolkids on an excursion, families on holidays, international tourists visiting our city, or locals having a day out – we all love Sovereign Hill and the entertainment and education that it provides.
“Sovereign Hill shows of our local history to the world, and that is why Shorten Labor Government will provide $10 million to upgrade Sovereign Hill’s exhibits ahead of its 50th birthday next year.”
Sovereign Hill chief executive Sara Quon said the funding was an exciting development for the much-loved tourist attraction.
“This is an exciting phase of renewal for Sovereign Hill in so many ways with Aura, our new evening experience, just launched to such positive feedback and a robust strategic and master planning process about to start.
“Sovereign Hill is a proud regional non-profit business and continues to focus on evolving our offer for the visitor. This $10.1m investment will be the cornerstone of our next phase and cement our economic and social contribution to Ballarat and Victoria for years to come. We hope that this investment will encourage even more of the Ballarat community to become members and join us on the journey ahead.”
Sovereign Hill attracted more than 760,000 visitors last year. In August, the Sovereign Hill Museums Association last year launched its masterplan Sovereign Hill: Beyond 50 project to reshape the attraction for its golden anniversary.
“A long-standing priority for Victorian Tourism Industry Council, the Sovereign Hill: Beyond 50 project will deliver a suite of new and exciting infrastructure to enhance the visitor experience at one of our state’s most treasured tourism icons – increasing overnight stay and expenditure throughout the region,” said VTIC chief executive Felicia Mariani.
Minister Birmingham said the tourism investment “will help drive continued visitation to the region, creating more jobs and supporting the local economy.
“It’s expected this additional funding will be used to redevelop the Gold Museum, upgrade the entrance building, improve signage as well as enhance the popular ‘digging area’.
“The region’s historical significance also sees thousands of school children visit Sovereign Hill each year which is why funding has been allocated towards upgrading the museum’s exhibits to make them more educational and interactive.”
The funding is part of the Liberal-National Government’s $50 million National Tourism Icons package announced in this month’s budget for vital tourism infrastructure and upgrades at iconic destinations across Australia.