Case study 1: Commemorating Eminent Australians: Prime Minister Ben Chifley's Home
Ben Chifley, Australia’s 16th Prime Minister, served from July 1945 to December 1949. Chifley Home, the house shared with his wife Elizabeth in Bathurst, is on the Bathurst Heritage Register as well as the New South Wales Heritage Register. Elizabeth’s parents gave the young couple the five-roomed house in 1914 as a wedding gift to their daughter and her bridegroom, Ben Chifley.
Chifley, an engine driver, won the Bathurst-based parliamentary seat of Macquarie in 1928, rising to be Prime Minister after the death of John Curtin in 1945. He delivered the Light on the Hill speech in June 1949: ‘We have a great objective—the light on the hill—which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labour movement would not be worth fighting for.’
Today the house contains the original furnishings and many personal effects of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley as well as memorabilia from the era.
The heritage project provided Bathurst Regional Council with almost $9 000 to help conserve and protect Chifley Home as a significant historic site. The grant was used to repair and replace concrete paving and all existing concrete edging and associated earthworks, and for garden maintenance. The works prevented further deterioration to the courtyard and improved public safety in the area.
The house and grounds are open to the public three days a week for guided tours. The site is also visited by schools, community groups and bus tours at arranged times throughout the week.