RESTORATION LOANS: Maldon builder and restoration expert Steve Cox reckons historic buildings have started to fall into disrepair as heritage loans dry up. Pictures: JOSEPH HINCHLIFFEWhen the National Trust declared Maldon”Australia’s first notable town” in 1966 it triggered a new boom for the gold-rush town –tourism.
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Now, residents reckon the time has come to give the central Victorian town’s major industry a boost again, and somehold out hopethe federal election could help deliver it.

Mount Alexander Shire deputy mayorSharon Telford is a Maldon residentwhose life followed a tried-and-tested pattern adopted by many locals. As a young woman she left Maldon to seek opportunities the town of less than 1500 could deliver, but returned to settle down and raise a family.

CrTelford listed two ways in which the federal government could help boost tourism–one an immediateshot-in-the-arm for the town, the other a long-term strategy for the whole region.

“The shire has two big ticket items which require funding–one is the indoor aquatic centrefor Castlemaine and the other is a new visitor information centre in Maldon,” CrTelford said.

The council bought the 146-year-oldWheel and Loom buildingin 2012 for $415,000 and has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to its restoration. ButCrTelford said the shire needed half a million more to make the project a reality.

“The need was identified to have a tourist information centre on the Main Street of town,”CrTelford said.

“Also, you’ve got this wonderful building standing empty which, to be perfectly honest, no individual in their right mind is going to buy because of the cost of doing it up.

“It isbeyond the capabilities of a country shire too–this project needs state or federal assistance.”

The long-term strategy is one that has been a long-time coming, but just receiveda renewed push.

Tourist groups have been lobbying to have significantparts of the Central Goldfields region given World Heritage status–which could be used as a key marketing tool, especially in the emerging tourist market in Asia– for more than adecade.

Now, there is a renewed push to havethe status applied to the whole region–which would include Bendigo and Ballarat– andCr Telford said federal lobbying would be crucial for its success.Such a push, even if ultimately unsuccessful, could free up resources to maintain the town’s heritage buildings–which would have flow on effects to the rest of the local economy.

Steve Cox, a builder for more than 40 years in Maldon, said heritage loans once given to small businesses had dried up in recent years.

“Main Street is starting tolooka bit shabby, people can’t afford to takethe same pride in appearance as in years past,” he said.

Maldon a microcosm

NEW OPPORTUNITIES: Gemma Martin moved to Maldon from Bendigo to open a cafe and tap into the tourist market while her employee Madison Oostenbrink will move to on once she has completed her studies.

Why do politicianssiplattes in theinner-city and don Akubras in the bush?

The truth is more complicated than the stereotype and in central Victorian towns,like Maldon, it is far more complicated still.In fact, in some ways Maldon isa microcosm of the nation-wide debate.

Residents thereare concerned withissues commonly associated with inner-city electorates, like the high cost of housing and the treatment of refugees.They also grapple with the same issues facingsmall towns across the country–a lack of opportunities for young people andof diversity in the local economy.

Then there’sthe issue to which every country Australian can relate–drought.

The multitude of opinionsin Maldon can be partly explained by a phenomenon which is relatively new to many parts of central Victoria, but which has been going on in Maldon for years.

Ex truck driver Ian & weaver Carol moved to Maldon from Ringwood after w’end trip: ‘it’s like stepping into 1800s’. pic.twitter南京夜网/FBtcbfqO7l

— Joseph Hinchliffe (@joe_hinchliffe) May 19, 2016Peter & Wags reckon #Maldon should be drought declared & in need of dams, but top election priority: the economy. pic.twitter南京夜网/8q6U1DruVz

— Joseph Hinchliffe (@joe_hinchliffe) May 19, 2016This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.