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UNESCO World Heritage Bid

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today and what we pass on to future generations, and the Mount Lofty Ranges are a precious asset of cultural and natural significance that must be protected and preserved.

Balhannah Autumn Vineyard

In 2012 the Adelaide Hills, Alexandrina, Barossa, Mt Barker, Onkaparinga, and Yankalilla Councils commenced exploring the feasibility of mounting a World Heritage (WH) bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for the Mt Lofty Ranges. The region was believed to be worthy of listing for its working agricultural landscapes and historic townships on the basis of the unique history of settlement and continuing culture and practice.

Grounds for a UNESCO World Heritage listing

South Australia was the first place in Australia to be planned and developed by free settlers without the use of convict labour. It is also the first place in the world to apply the principles of 'systematic colonisation' developed by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. The region's link to this unique philosophical movement of universal significance, as well as the continuing reflection of these ideas in the modern landscape and land use, would form the basis of a future World Heritage bid.

Other parts of the rationale that were originally considered, such as the ‘world-renowned food, wine and tourism regions’ are considered background or descriptive information, but lacking in substantial evidence to be considered as the core argument for WH listing. This may be a significant shift from the original justification and many people’s orignal understanding of the bid.

In 2019 the rationale was reviewed by Duncan Marshall and Dr Jane Lennon AM.

A key finding of the review was recognition that a bid that combines the Adelaide plan and the systematic colonisation settlement landscape of South Australia would represent a substantially more complete portrayal of the colonial settlement model and the whole of the settlement system. As a result, Adelaide City Council and the Mt Lofty Ranges partner councils have commenced working together on a combined bid.

As part of the collaborative work a single narrative for the combined bid has been developed:

The nineteenth century property comprising Adelaide and its Rural Settlement Landscapes, including the early Adelaide plan, is of Outstanding Universal Value as exceptional evidence of the Wakefield systematic colonisation model, an important and influential model in the history of European free migration and colonial settlement. It is the most complete realisation of British colonial settlement planning in the world, and/or a major achievement of such colonial planning.

More information and comments

Should you have any further queries in relation to this project or wish to provide comments or ask questions, please contact us.

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