Construction work on the site of the new state government GovHub building in Ballarat has been halted following the discovery of large amounts of archeological material.
Heritage Victoria confirmed works had been suspended following the discovery of a large number of glass and ceramic bottles and other historic material on the site.
Kane Nicholson Joint Venture, the builders on the site, have agreed to this request, The Courier understands.
Nicholson Construction director Richard Nicholson told a press conference on Wednesday the company had come across a deposit of around 15,000 bottles during excavation, some of them over a hundred years old.
"A lot of them were still in shape... some bottle collectors picked up a few but generally they went straight to the recycling," Mr Nicholson said at the conference.
Commentary on social media in Ballarat soon picked up on the discovery, with many noting that the decision to remove the archaeological artefacts from the site and send them to a waste facility may be in breach of the state's Heritage Act, 2017, which provides for the protection of all archaeological sites, whether they are listed or not.
One comment noted historical artefacts should be 'preserved, catalogued and studied by heritage professionals.'
Construction companies don't get to decide what gets kept and what gets ditched in these instances.Facebook comment.
Heritage Victoria released a statement on the discovery of material on the site, which had previously been part of the lower Civic Hall, and had a century of white settlement uses prior to the construction of the hall in the 1950s.
"Construction work has halted, following a request from Heritage Victoria," according to the statement.
"Development Victoria and Regional Development Victoria are working with Heritage Victoria, which is due to inspect the site on Monday."
The Courier understands the GovHub site has now been secured against the further removal of material, and artefacts already removed are being assessed for the feasibility of their recovery.
Heritage Victoria, City of Ballarat and the Kane Nicholson Joint Venture have been contacted for further comment.
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