Deborah mine aims to be a tourist hub

Steve Kendall | Bendigo Weekly | 10-Nov-2017

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A $6 million expansion of the Central Deborah Mine site has been unveiled as a major part of cementing its position as one of Bendigo’s premier attractions.

The new master plan proposes a major upgrade to the experiences offered on the mine’s surface as well as a city by night tram trip.

The upgrades also include a new gold interpretive centre and an enhanced food and drinks offering that will include evening events.

Bendigo’s tram services will also run at night as part of the plan.

Bendigo Heritage Attractions CEO Peter Abbott said the upgrades form part of a vision to see Central Deborah become a tourism hub when exploring Bendigo.

“It’s the biggest change in the mine’s history,” he said.

“What started out as a gold panning experience has grown considerably, but the site has remained underdeveloped.” 

Mr Abbott said the plan is part of a larger expansion tied in with the underground tours.

“While the underground mine tours are rated the number one tourism experience in Bendigo on TripAdvisor, the surface experiences have remained static for many years,” he said. 

“The expansion of services on the surface will see the site being used for a wider range of activities, as well as providing a base for night time exploration of Bendigo, which has been identified as a gap in the city’s tourism offering.”

The night tram plan means the reintroduction of the restaurant tram to service.

“It only seats 25 people, but we see it as a way for people to travel to the mine from the CBD and have an entree on the way,” Mr Abbott said.

“Visitors can go to the museum for a light show and a meal and then travel back on the tram.

“The Central Deborah Mine will be the hub for the evening.”

The idea is to showcase the legacy of Bendigo’s gold rush and make the mine a site that is used through the day and early evenings.

Mr Abbott said the new interpretive centre at Central Deborah will be the long-awaited museum that Bendigo has been missing.

It will tell the story of gold in Bendigo, from discovery and expansion, through to the contemporary gold mining industry.

“The surface experiences that are currently provided are generally static in nature and really undersell the opportunity the site provides,” Mr Abbott said.

“The new master plan maintains the heritage values of the site and makes it central to the whole of the Bendigo tourism industry. 

“We are very excited that this development will also make the night restaurant tram experience more viable in the longer term and allow for the development of a Bendigo by lights experience on our heritage trams.” 

The master plan will need the support of local, state and federal governments to become a reality.

“We’re working on funding and aim to be on the City of Greater Bendigo council’s priority list that is taken into the state election,” Mr Abbott said. 

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