Support for heritage project

Immortalising history: Moyne Shire councillor Jill Parker advocated for the council to support a new project spanning across most of Mortlake detailing the history of soldier settlement in the region and celebrated the council’s endorsement with project working group members Noel McConnell (left) and Mick Murphy (right).

FROM sculptures honouring the history of settlers and squatters at each end of Mortlake to a wall listing every single settler, the Settler’s Run project is now officially off and running.

Moyne Shire councillor Jill Parker raised a notice of motion at Tuesday’s Ordinary Meeting requesting the council provide in-principle support for the project, which received unanimous support.

Now in its initial concept phase, the project proposals so far include a permanent precinct stretching along Shaw Street educating residents and visitors to Mortlake about the history of returned Australian soldier settlers following World War I and World War II.

Member of the working group, which is a subcommittee of the Mortlake Returned and Services League (RSL) sub-branch, Mick Murphy said with council’s support, the project can now get under way.

“The endorsement means the council will effectively be the project manager,” he said.

Wide scope: The Settler’s Run initial concept plans include a number of elements, including sculptures, a museum and a wall of names of former soldier settlers.

Mr Murphy said Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, VicRoads and Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Ltd are also in support of the project, with the potential to link in with similar projects in Ballarat and Seymour.

Fellow working group member and key architect for the project Noel McConnell said the project is likely 12 months away from a full prospectus seeking funding.

“We are probably three years away from a project,” he said.

Mr McConnell said the project will ensure the history of the region’s settlers and squatters does not fade away.

“It was actually the biggest social change in Australia,” he said.

“This is about soldiers becoming farmers.”

Other members of the working group include Mortlake RSL president Merv Hampson, history teacher Leanne Hampson, Liz Fowler, Craig Fowler and Pam Whitson, with RSL Victoria chief executive officer Michael Annett also ready to support the project.

Cr Parker said the project will deliver a variety of benefits to the town once it is realised.

“It’s just good for economic development, it’s good for tourism and it’s good for health and wellbeing,” she said.

“It creates a place for the town to reflect, to be part of it and to receive acknowledgement.”

Local artist Richard Weatherly will be the key driver behind the artistic elements of the project.

Other proposed parts of the precinct include the construction of a museum detailing the history of soldier settlers and relocating the war memorial to outside the RSL hall.

The working group will release the initial project plans to the public soon.

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