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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

25 October 1999


A clump of trees near Swan Hill, under which the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition camped, is to be entered in Australia's premier heritage list tomorrow.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill, said the 'Burke and Wills Clump' is one of only a few known places that could be physically associated with the famous 1860 journey of exploration.

"Local people have long believed that this stand of native box trees near Lake Boga is the site where the expedition camped on their way north via Swan Hill," Senator Hill said.

"Ludwig Becker, a member of the party, records in his journal that the night before they reached Swan Hill, the explorers camped at 'a belt of timber between Lake Tatchiwap and Lake Boga', attracting many visitors who came from far off stations to see the explorers' camels."

Senator Hill said that the site was one of 61 natural and cultural heritage places throughout Australia to be entered in the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate on 26 October. These places ranged from the Burke and Wills camping site, to early cinemas and rare woodlands.

"Melbourne's Progress Cinema and former Lyric Theatre, and Newcastle's former Victoria Theatre are part of a vanishing aspect of Australia's heritage," the Minister said.

"While the 1923 Progress Cinema, in Coburg, is believed to be among the oldest continuous operating cinemas in the city, the other two theatres are no longer used for their original purpose."

Senator Hill said Newcastle's former Victoria Theatre, originally constructed in 1876 was one of the oldest surviving purpose-built theatres in Australia. It had attracted performers like Gladys Moncrieff, Lily Langtry, Joan Hammond and June Bronhill. Melbourne's former Lyric Theatre in Brunswick had been associated with many significant events and organisations including the Unemployed Workers Movement in the 1930s depression.

"Ten nationally endangered grassy white box woodland remnants in New South Wales are also being listed," the Minister said. "These listings are very important, as temperate woodlands in Australia have been extensively cleared so that only about 10 per cent remain. One of these remnants, the Tarcutta Hills Reserve, has recently been acquired by the Australian Bush Heritage Fund with Commonwealth assistance."

A full list of places to be listed is attached.

The Register of the National Estate is Australia's premier list of natural and cultural heritage places and is compiled by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Entry in the Register is a public recognition of the heritage values of a place and means that it has met criteria for national estate significance. The Commission does not manage places in the Register. The Commonwealth Government is obliged not to damage places in the Register, but does not have any rights to acquire or manage a place. Listing does not give people the right to enter a national estate place which is privately owned.

Interim Listing means the public is allowed up to three months to object to the identified place being included in the Register of the National Estate. The Commission considers all objections before finally deciding on whether a place qualifies to enter the Register. The Register of the National Estate Database is now on the Internet and can be found at:

For further information, contact the Australian Heritage Commission:
Noel Pratt: Education & Communication Section Ph (02) 6274 2117
Alex Marsden: Historic Assessment Section Ph (02) 6274 2138
Minister's Office: Rod Bruem Ph (02) 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia