A series of thumb-sized bottles found in City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh's backyard led to the discovery of a little bit of old Ballarat's business practice.
The tiny bottles contained lavender scent and were used by a funeral parlour, once adjoining the mayor's home, to mask the smell of putrefaction. The empty bottles were simply tossed over the back fence and surfaced during gardening.
Now Heritage Victoria is conducting a wider study of Ballarat's historical archaeology. It will review sites already protected on the Victorian Heritage Inventory in the city, and identify new sites for potential listing.
This is not about existing buildings, but rather what's been buried over time as colonial Ballarat developed; it will not include Aboriginal archaeological sites, as these are managed by Aboriginal Victoria under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
The significance of the heritage artifacts and what can be lost was thrown into stark contrast recently on the GovHub construction site in Armstrong Street where large amounts of glass and ceramic items were found and Heritage Victoria stepped in to temporarily halt works at the State Government project.
Cr McIntosh says an ideal outcome of the new survey would be for people to be able to digitally map areas they think might have interest or potential historical importance.
To that end, the City of Ballarat and Heritage Victoria are asking the community to provide information via an interactive map on council's mySay page. Information shared by pinning a location on the map will help Heritage Victoria define study areas for the review.
"It's a good way for people to be inquisitive about what is out there, and it could prevent issues that are unexpected, as well as creating excitement and value to some areas," Cr McIntosh said.
While it won't be possible to assess every site identified, information on sites not investigated will be retained for future exploration.
"The reason we are opening the online map is that the potential for (Heritage Victoria) to look at things is endless," says Catherine McLay, project officer, Heritage & Cultural Landscapes with the City of Ballarat.
"So what we need from the community and from stakeholders is local knowledge about what there is; things they may have uncovered accidentally or that already exist. Heritage Victoria don't have an idea of the study boundaries yet; that will come out of the process we are going through.
"They are also doing historical research on maps to try and get an idea of what areas might be of interest archaeologically. They'll review existing sites on the inventory to make sure they are correct, become some of the listings are several years if not decades old."
To be considered by Heritage Victoria, the archaeological site (as defined by the Heritage Act 2017) must:
- Contain an artefact, deposit or feature which is 75 or more years old
- Provide information on the history of Victoria
- Require archaeological methods to reveal information about the settlement, development or use of the place
- Not only be associated with Aboriginal occupation of the place (Aboriginal archaeology is protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2016)
To find out what historical archaeology sites are already listed in Ballarat, visit vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/ and search the Victorian Heritage Inventory.
The City of Ballarat says the review links in with council's Heritage Plan, Our People, Culture & Place: a plan to sustain Ballarat's heritage 2017-2030.
"Ballarat's history of extraordinary Aboriginal culture, global migration, gold mining and technical innovation, coupled with our distinctive setting make us who we are today," Cr McIntosh said.