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2026 Commonwealth Games an opportunity to showcase the Central Victorian Goldfields' World Heritage bid region

The region's councils say the 2026 Commonwealth Games will propel their Central Victorian Goldfields' World Heritage bid on to the international stage. It is expected the sporting events, of which the majority will be held in regional towns, will attract people from across the world, providing an opportunity to showcase the Central Victorian Goldfields' World Heritage bid region.

The cities of Ballarat and Greater Bendigo are leading the bid by 13 local governments for the heritage nomination. It is estimated the status might bring between $25 to $66 million into local economies annually. Between 10 and 20 historic sites across the region could be nominated and all would have links to Victoria's gold rush, which reshaped the world in the mid-19th century.

The partnership of Central Victorian councils has met with Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas to discuss the benefits of the games for strengthening promotion of the region. The partnership is seeking $500,000 in funding, through Regional Development Victoria's $10 million 'Investment Fast-Track Fund', to enable critical work to begin to progress the bid.

This state government funding will get the bid ready for World Heritage tentative listing for consideration by the state and federal governments. It will help the group identify sites that could make the World Heritage list, outline the investment needed to leverage the bid to benefit local jobs, develop World Heritage journeys, support communities and industry, including rebuilding after the pandemic.

The local government partners and the Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive have committed a further $125,000 towards this latest initiative, making a total of $284,000 in partnership contributions to date.

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Andrea Metcalf said the announcement the Commonwealth Games would be held in the regions provided the bid with an international platform. "This will enable us to promote our exceptional heritage and experiences, disperse games visitors throughout our region and build a legacy for our communities and businesses that strengthens our World Heritage bid. "We keenly await news from the state government on their financial support to help us to achieve all of this, together." Cr Metcalf said.

City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney welcomed the state government's interest in the project.

"This region has a rich history and an incredible story to share with the world. State government support of this project will take us one critical step closer to World Heritage listing, which will provide significant opportunities for regional Victoria. The Central Victorian Goldfields' gold rush heritage is unparalleled on the international stage." Cr Monoley said.

City of Ballarat chief executive officer Evan King said World Heritage listing would not stifle or prevent development however it would ensure the region's heritage was recognised and celebrated globally. "Sites selected from across the region would be the 'best of the best' that tell the story of the global goldrushes, and it is thought these could number between 10 and 20. The process of selection will include wide community engagement. Types of properties that will be considered include publicly-owned properties such as town halls, railway stations or botanic gardens and recognised archaeological sites on public land. Mr King said.

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COUNCILS UNITED: Representative councilors from the Victorian Goldfields region stand with former premier Denis Napthine outside the Clunes Town Hall. PICTURE: Caleb Cluff

"Once a site is designated, UNESCO itself exercises no control over development or activities, which still lies with the Australian government and the relevant state and local authorities. Most if not all sites being investigated already have substantial and satisfactory controls on them relating to their conservation, development, and activities."

Former Victorian premiers Denis Napthine and John Brumby are co-patrons and supporters of the bid for World Heritage listing. Mr Brumby said the evidence showed our region featured the best preserved and represented goldrush history in the world. "If this bid succeeds, and it needs state government support to succeed, it will unquestionably lead to significant increases in tourists from across the world wanting to experience our story of the goldrush era. It will lead to investment in accommodation and other tourism facilities and will bring more jobs to the region. I think it's a perfect fit for the 2026 Commonwealth Games." Mr Brumby said.

Victorian Goldfields Tourism executive Chris Meddows-Taylor said additional funding would enable critical work, including that of the World Heritage Master Plan, to begin. "It would be wonderful to see the unique magnificence and great wealth of the 19th Century central Victorian gold rush recognised for World Heritage Listing, enabling massive regional opportunities and regeneration in the 21st century and beyond," Mr Meddows-Taylor said.

Ballarat is set to be the Commonwealth Games host city for athletics, para athletics, boxing and cricket T20 while Bendigo will host cricket T20, cycling, lawn bowls and para lawn bowls, netball, squash, weightlifting and para powerlifting.

The Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage Bid was progressed in December last year.

Obtaining World Heritage status is subject to funding and external agency deadlines. There is a staged process leading up to submitting a proposal for World Heritage listing. This includes building and testing the case for World Heritage listing, and the Victorian government supporting the submission and taking it to the Australian government for its consideration to add to Australia's World Heritage 'tentative list'.

Once included on the tentative list, a bid dossier is developed that meets UNESCO's and the World Heritage Advisory Bodies' requirements. This can be submitted to UNESCO a minimum of one year after the Central Victorian Goldfields is placed on Australia's tentative list. If all goes well, it is estimated UNESCO, the World Heritage Advisory Bodies and, finally, the World Heritage Committee may evaluate the application from 2026-2027.

The 13 councils involved are Ararat, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Moorabool, Mount Alexander, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees.

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From today's Ballarat Courier:

Ballarat is major event ready after spectacular National Masters Rowing Championships

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LAPPING IT UP: The Wendouree Ballarat men's crew in the Masters C8+ Final. Picture: Adam Trafford

THE spectacular success of the National Masters Rowing Championships at Lake Wendouree has given Ballarat the inside running to host even more major events, with potential for the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

As hundreds of competitors and thousands of visitors descended on the city for the four-day championships, which culminated on Sunday afternoon, Rowing Victoria chief executive Ian Jickell described the event as a monumental success. "We were blessed and the feedback we got, particularly from athletes from interstate was glowing. It's a wonderful city to enjoy and everyone made the most of it in and around their racing commitments. It was just suburb facilities, perfect water and the most fair conditions you could ever imagine." Mr Jickell said.

Mr Jickell said the championship "put Ballarat on the map" in terms of being able to host major events in future. We have a wonderful relationship with the City of Ballarat, obviously we host the state titles here every two yearsWe were lucky enough to host the rowing nationals in Nagambie earlier in the year, and although that's on a rotating basis with states, the success of this event shows what a wonderful venue Ballarat would be for such major events going forward."

Mr Jickell stated that, "There is a big push to see rowing return to the Commonwealth Games and Rowing Victoria and Rowing Australia are in those discussions," which would be the first time since 1986, with a decision, he expects, to be taken by the end of the year. "If it was decided, obviously Ballarat and Nagambie would be in the running. We are so blessed in Victoria to have access to two such quality 2000m courses. The first thing though is to get rowing back on the agenda for Commonwealth Games. Obviously there is a Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in a couple of months, so I've got no doubt that discussions will be ongoing around that time."

Jickell said the universality of the sport is one of the big issues facing its return. While the sport is strong in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Canada, work needed to be done on adding it to sporting programs in African and Caribbean countries.

"There is a large number of athletes required to participate in rowing and so we need to look at the impact they have, such as accommodation, space and other needs. There are hurdles we need to get over," he said.

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From today's Ballarat Courier:

2026 Commonwealth Games: No decision on infrastructure until end of 2022, government says

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More behind the scenes work will be required before councils learn exactly what Commonwealth Games infrastructure will be needed, and decisions may not arrive until the end of the year.

The 2026 Commonwealth Games, to be held across regional Victoria, will spotlight Ballarat - we're hosting the athletics and para-athletics at Mars Stadium, as well as the boxing and part of the cricket program so far. The state government allocated $2.6 billion over five years for the Games, to be shared between Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, and the Latrobe Valley.

 

The clock is ticking - the Games are expected to begin in March 2026, meaning the event is less than four years away - and as well as sporting infrastructure like additional stadium seating and warm-up tracks, a village for at least 1750 people will be required, and potentially more infrastructure like car parks, train platforms, and plazas.

The Games are one of the City of Ballarat's top priority projects, but there has been little detail revealed publicly from the state government about where and when this new infrastructure will go, or if there will be more sports added in Ballarat as negotiations with the Commonwealth Games Federation continue.

According to a state government spokesperson, more detail will emerge soon. "We are working closely with the City of Ballarat to identify potential sites for the villages and the sports program for Victoria 2026 - we expect this work to be complete by the end of the year," they said in a statement. "Eureka Stadium has already been confirmed as the home of athletics, with more information on how the Games will be celebrated in the region to come soon."

Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton, who has previously worked on several Olympic Games, said planning for major events was always a challenge. "We are cutting by at least half the typical lead-in time that you would have for planning an event of this size - I'm sympathetic, I'm understanding of the fact that the government is taking a bit of time to get the building blocks in place to be able to make really good decisions, and they're not there just yet," he said.

"The allocation of $2.6 billion over four years is an extraordinary amount of money, a fantastic investment in the games and the legacy pieces that will come. I'm certainly cutting them some slack in terms of getting to a point where we've got to plan this very well - we're trying to plan this much faster than otherwise we would. At the end of the day, the deadline's the deadline, and it will happen."

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40 minutes ago, Victorian said:

 

What a moron… if they wanted shooting to be in the games, they should have put their hand up and hosted… 

Indeed, but they should keep their powder dry (pun intended) and wait and see what's announced later this year. It's not as if other countries were falling over themselves to host, so they get what the host nation decides.

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10 minutes ago, TorchbearerSydney said:

Q: Missed this concept image of temporary grandstands at Kardinia Aquatic Centre 

I wonder what the point of those little roofs are, they dont cover anyone from sun or rain!

I agree, not sure what good the little roof would do - but it must have a purpose.

The Gold Coast Aquatics Centre also had them as well at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in this photo:

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38 minutes ago, TorchbearerSydney said:

Q: Missed this concept image of temporary grandstands at Kardinia Aquatic Centre 

I wonder what the point of those little roofs are, they dont cover anyone from sun or rain!

They keep the seagulls from crapping on the poor buggers in the cheaps seats :D

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5 hours ago, 2018 said:

Any word on any new sports?

I would say not likey this side of October. I imagine that the remaining sports and venues will be at places where minimal upgrade or structural is required.

The four regions and their Councils are all formulating their proposals and master plans for their respective sports zones and venues. It seems that the 16 sports announced were announced as earlyas possible to enable councils to do much of the preliminary planning. The councils will have very firm ideas of what amenities and long term improvements they want as the legacy of the Games. In other words they know exactly what they need and don't need to be told what they need by bureaucrats. The Games organisers will tell the councils what logistics and facilities are needed, but councils will have a better understanding of the dynamics and limitations of their cities. They are no doubt preparing lists detailing funding required for them to prepare their venues and surrounds which will determine allocation of funding from the $2.6 bil to be spent on infrastucture.

Both Geelong and Ballarat have identifed preferred village sites with Geelong having identified 9 possible inner city sites while Ballarat has identified 4 with one being central city and the other 3 disused industrial sites.

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From today's Ballarat Courier:

Ballarat launches bid to host 2026 Commonwealth Games with a bold bid to host a regatta at Lake Wendouree

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The glassy Lake Wendouree was the perfect host for the recent Australian Masters Rowing regatta

 

BALLARAT has declared its hand to host rowing at the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with the city launching a bold bid to host a regatta at Lake Wendouree.

While rowing has not been a part of the Commonwealth Games since 1986, the opportunity to see the sport return to the site of the 1956 Olympic Games, 70 years after the city hosting the showcase is seen as too good an opportunity to pass.

Rowing was one of six sports included in the first Commonwealth Games in 1932.

 

Mayor Daniel Moloney said the host nation had the right to add an optional three to five additional sports to the Commonwealth Games calendar of events. He believes rowing is a perfect fit for Victoria 2026.

"There is an incredible and cost-effective opportunity to include rowing at the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games using Lake Wendouree as a venue," he said.

"Major investment in the last decade means Lake Wendouree is a world class, event-ready venue. Importantly, it is the only World Rowing (FISA) standard course in Victoria, which means it has all the infrastructure to host elite level international rowing events."

Just last month Ballarat continued its spectacular rowing tradition when it hosted the Australian Masters Rowing Championship, which saw hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators descend on Lake Wendouree for a four day extravaganza which garnered rave reviews.

Cr Moloney said logistically Ballarat was a good fit too, with support and access in place for athletes, spectators and support staff.

"The lake is in the heart of the city so athlete access for training and competition is straightforward, and with Ballarat home to one of four athlete villages for the Games, all the medical and team support for rowers is within easy reach as well," he said.

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Ballarat eastern river bank is perfect place for spectators for the Commonwealth Games

"For spectators, Lake Wendouree provides the opportunity to ticket the start and finish of the rowing course - while also allowing free spectator access to the rowing events for thousands of local and regional residents who might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy watching live, elite level sporting competition."

Cr Moloney said the 1956 Olympics events left a strong legacy in the city, inspiring generations of Ballarat rowers to reach elite national and international competition.

"The 2026 Commonwealth Games has the potential to motivate a new generation of Ballarat rowers. Rowing is a major sport in many Commonwealth countries and with our rich rowing heritage Ballarat is the perfect place to host rowing events as part of the Victoria 2026 Games."

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The Courier

It's Ballarat versus Nagambie for the rowing in the Commonwealth Games as the city makes its pitch to host

THE battle lines are drawn as both Ballarat and Nagambie fight it out to host rowing at the 2026 Commonwealth Games. The City of Ballarat has put its hand up to host the sport, launching its bold bid to host it alongside confirmed sports athletics and boxing.

But there's a lot of water to go under the bridge, with two major obstacles in its way. Firstly, a decision as to whether the sport will even be included in the Commonwealth Games - which would make it the first such time since 1986 - has yet to be taken, and secondly, the small problem of Victoria's other 2km course at Lake Nagambie, which recently hosted the Australian Championships.

Strathbogie Shire has also declared it is keen to host the Commonwealth Games should the decision be taken to include the sport for 2026. On Ballarat's side, it recently hosted the hugely successful Australian Masters Rowing Championships held last month and an opportunity to host would celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Olympic Games in 1956.

The City of Ballarat says Lake Wendouree is the ideal venue for one of the world's biggest sports with its proximity to accommodation, hospitality and other Commonwealth Games events, including the blue ribbon athletics, making it the ultimate home for the sport. Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said the host nation had the right to add an optional three to five additional sports to the Commonwealth Games calendar of events. He believes rowing is a perfect fit for Victoria 2026. "There is an incredible and cost-effective opportunity to include rowing at the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games using Lake Wendouree as a venue," he said. "Major investment in the last decade means Lake Wendouree is a world-class, event-ready venue."

Australia secured two rowing gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games against 79 nations, 54 of which will be eligible to participate in 2026.

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Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney is ready to welcome the world to Lake Wendouree. Picture: City of Ballarat

Lake Nagambie recently hosted the Australian Championships which saw Ballarat Clarendon College crew take out the national schoolgirls title. The region near Euroa and Shepparton has so far been snubbed in early announcements surrounding the regional Victoria games.

Strathbogie mayor Laura Binks said it was advocating to the state government to firstly include rowing as a sport in the games and then commit to hosting it at the Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre. "Although rowing is an optional Commonwealth Games sport - it is one of Australia's oldest and most successful sports and we believe the Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre provides the perfect place to feature this event," Cr Binks said. "The international popularity and interest in rowing, and the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, provides an opportunity to bring rowing back to the international spotlight in the spectacular and inspiring setting of the Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre. The Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre is a 2km rowing course with eight buoyed lanes. It's a fully fenced, secure venue that has infrastructure excellence like no other location across the state."

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Lake Nagambie has hosted major events including the Australian championships this year.

The City of Ballarat's bid has won plenty of backing, however. Five-time Olympian and triple Olympic medallist Anthony Edwards said Ballarat would be a logical place for the regatta. "I hold that piece of water very high on my list," Mr Edwards said. "I think Ballarat is an ideal place. Lake Wendouree is an amazing venue, the work that has been done in the past 20 years is incredible."

 

Mr Edwards said giving many developing countries in the sport such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and others could only strengthen it going forward. "I always remember watching the Edinburgh Games (in 1986) but I had myself an opportunity to compete at Commonwealth Regatta at London Ontario," he said. "That was a proper Commonwealth Games competition which aligned before the world championships. It was a great event, there was a nice atmosphere and was very well supported. Anyone from any country can win in the single scull. Rowing has over the past 20 years shown huge growth particularly with the emergence in Asian countries. What a great opportunity it would be for the development of the sport if those developing countries got to compete in an event like the Commonwealth Games? And Ballarat, it's an iconic place, it has an Olympic history, it's such a unique rowing course. It's a wonderful spot."

1984 Olympic silver medallist Gary Gullock said having recently competed in the Masters event on Lake Wendouree, there could be no better advertisement for the sport.

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Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney is ready to welcome the world to Lake Wendouree. Picture: City of Ballarat

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Lake Nagambie has hosted major events including the Australian championships this year.

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Ballarat is a picture perfect setting for rowing at the Commonwealth Games.

"It's absolutely fantastic, even on a not-so-perfect day it's a great course, accommodation is nearby which is definitely a plus over Nagambie, were it is always difficult to find somewhere to stay. You have a big city right on the doorstep, it's been dredged, so it's consistent depth all the way."

Masters rower Donald Gibb said Ballarat held many advantages over Lake Nagambie, but cautioned work would need to be undertaken to get the course up to international level. "You've got all the accommodation options and restaurant support, you've got close proximity to Melbourne, and you've got a great facility at the finish of the race for pontoons and viewing," Mr Gibb said. "There is nothing quite to match it anywhere in Australia where you are so close to the finish."

Mr Gibb said any issues in Ballarat could easily be fixed. "I rowed recently in Copenhagen, it was also a more open course, and they actually brought up floating platforms (to stop the wind), similar to what Melbourne did on the Yarra in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and it made a huge difference. Congratulations on the city for having a go, it would be great to see Ballarat take on more major national, regional and school events."

Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said Ballarat would be a perfect host. "Definitely feasible, it would be a fantastic 'get' if we were able to get that event," he said. "Should rowing be adopted we have a great capacity to run a really strong rowing event in this city. Clearly the competition is Nagambie, but having the other sports here already makes it a very attractive option, we can leverage the opportunity to have athletes and officials staying in the one city."

Rowing Victoria chief executive Ian Jickell said discussions were ongoing as to whether the sport would be included with a decision expected "within quarter three of this year. The discussions are between the state, the Commonwealth Games committee and Rowing Australia and we are supporting Rowing Australia," he said. "Our key aim is to get rowing included in the games. We're incredibly fortunate to have two venues which are both strong candidates to host a traditional regatta. If ... included, we would expect a venue decision before the end of the year."

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This is a pretty intriguing games format, seeing genuinely smaller cities hosting together - it's almost like a dry run for the Olympics in Queensland. I know I tend to rail against the alternation of UK and Australia at hosting but I can see Wales or even Northern Ireland looking at this with interest. Still wish Singapore or NZ had put their hand up though, much as Australia will be great hosts again. 

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2 hours ago, yoshi said:

This is a pretty intriguing games format, seeing genuinely smaller cities hosting together - it's almost like a dry run for the Olympics in Queensland. I know I tend to rail against the alternation of UK and Australia at hosting but I can see Wales or even Northern Ireland looking at this with interest. Still wish Singapore or NZ had put their hand up though, much as Australia will be great hosts again. 

I agree. This 2026 model may well set up a model of feasibility for African nations such as Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria (for example, others may also be considered) would bid to host by spreading events across different cities or regions thus not leaving individual cities such as Lagos, Durban or Mombasa solely carrying the legacy of large built stadiums or expense. It opens the door to the possibility of a West Indian Games with events shared between the Commonwealth countries located in the West Indies including Jamaica, Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago. It opens the door to the possibility of New Zealand hosting either a North Island or perhaps a South Island games. Or perhaps even New Guinea leading a Polynesian and Melanesian games.

It will be studied with great interest no doubt by many of the Commonwealth nations who will now see a door opened to them.

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23 hours ago, Victorian said:

When will employment opportunities open up for Victoria 2026? I would love to get a job working on the Commonwealth Games!! 

I would say to keep your eyes peeled on the following link which will be updated as information unfolds. The link also has a section toward the bottom where you can register your interest for updates:

https://www.vic.gov.au/victoria-2026-commonwealth-games

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