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10 November 2023

Friday, 10 November 2023


Five First Peoples artists have been commissioned to develop sculptures for the new Wadawurrung Cultural Precinct at Sovereign Hill to encourage a deeper understanding of the Traditional Owners in the Ballarat region.

Member for Eureka Michaela Settle today visited Sovereign Hill to announce the contributing Wadawurrung artists: Aunty Marlene Gilson, Dr Deanne Gilson, Tammy Gilson, Kait James and Lynette Fagan.

Expected to be completed by June 2024, the precinct will pay homage to the rich history of the local Wadawurrung people through a collection of expertly curated sculptures.

The Wadawurrung Cultural precinct will illustrate the importance of sharing the journeys, experiences, and stories of the region by instilling the knowledge of First Peoples’ culture to current and future generations of all people.  

First People-led tourism experiences is a key pillar of the Experience Victoria 2033 strategic plan. It aims to support Aboriginal Victorians to tell their stories and deepen visitors’ understanding of Country.

Backed by a $6 million investment from the Victorian Government, the new cultural space is part of a significant precinct upgrade, generating jobs and attracting more visitors to the much-loved gold-rush themed attraction.  

Featuring a ‘Valley of Lights’ outdoor event area and indoor dining overhaul, the attraction is expected to welcome up to 83,400 new visitors each year to the region by 2040. 

Sovereign Hill’s famous gold panning precinct is also receiving an upgrade, focusing on enhancing events and experiences and extending operation of the precinct into the evenings. Accessibility to the area will be improved, supporting people with a disability to enjoy the tradition.

The precinct upgrade will generate up to 69 construction jobs and 11 ongoing employment positions.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eureka Michaela Settle

“Sovereign Hill is synonymous with Ballarat and we’re proud to support a project that enhances First Peoples-led experiences in the region and encourages visitors to learn more about the rich culture of the Wadawurrung people.”

“Our deepest thanks to Aunty Marlene Gilson, Dr Deanne Gilson, Tammy Gilson, Kait James and Lynette Fagan for so generously sharing the Wadawurrung culture.”

Quotes attributable to Sovereign Hill Chief Executive Officer Sara Quon

 “Sovereign Hill’s Wadawurrung Cultural Precinct is a unique opportunity to understand more about Wadawurrung culture and give First Nations stories more visibility.”

“We are immensely grateful to the Victorian Government for supporting Sovereign Hill to have public art coming to the Cultural Precinct from such a strong group of First Nations artists.”