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Port Arthur expertise assists World Heritage projects

07/08/2009

Sharing expertise and resources across the Tasmanian heritage sector has been hailed as a new step forward in protecting and promoting the State’s historical assets.

The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Michelle O’Byrne, said conservation and restoration projects at the Port Arthur Historic Site have had great spinoffs for other heritage properties.

“The World Heritage nomination is already providing great benefits to heritage properties by focussing attention and promoting the sharing of knowledge across the different sites,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“The expertise and resources at Port Arthur have been harnessed for cooperative projects around the state with experienced artisans such as stone masons, roof shinglers and horticulturists assisting with projects at historic Woolmers Estate and Brickendon Estate at Longford.

“As well, Port Arthur is recognised as a national centre of excellence and has hosted project staff from heritage sites around the country, including Norfolk Island, to build their skills alongside local professional artisans.”

Ms O’Byrne was speaking during a tour of recent work at Brickendon and Woolmers with board members of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA). The PAHSMA Board is meeting with the owners of Brickendon and the Board of Woolmers Estate to not only familiarise themselves with the properties but also to share knowledge and experiences.

The tour was made as the Longford properties and four other Tasmanian heritage sites make preparations as part of a bid for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Brickendon and Woolmers, the Darlington Probation Station on Maria Island, Cascades Female Factory, the Coal Mines Historic Site and the Port Arthur Historic Site are among 11 national convict sites nominated for listing by the Australian Government.

Ms O’Byrne said World Heritage Listing for Tasmania’s iconic convict sites would be a tremendous boost to the state’s already vibrant heritage tourism sector.

She congratulated the PAHSMA board for Port Arthur’s record-breaking visitor numbers for the second consecutive year.

“In the 2008-09 financial year more than 308,000 visitors took day time or Historic Ghost Tours at the site” Ms O’Byrne said.

“This compares with the previous record set in 2007-08 of just over 304,000 visitors.

“The increase in times of global economic downturn is impressive and shows Tasmania is weathering the downturn well.

“Port Arthur continues to be a must-see component of any visit to Tasmania and this is particularly heartening as we prepare our sites for assessment by the World Heritage Committee.”

Port Arthur expertise assists World Heritage projects

Michael Williams from Norfolk Island picked up new skills at the Port Arthur Historic Site and helped reshingle the chapel at Brickendon Estate

Port Arthur expertise assists World Heritage projects

Port Arthur shingle splitters Gareath (left) and Ted Plummer give a few pointers to Brickendon's Richard Archer (right)