Visitor interpretation of the environmental impacts of the gold rushes at the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, Australia
Mining heritage is often preserved in national parks, managed and interpreted by national park agencies and enjoyed by tourists as part of the national park experience. However, as national parks are generally intended to protect natural values, the inclusion of cultural heritage (such as mining landscapes) is incidental and often problematic. Indeed there may even be a tendency for land managers from a natural heritage background to ignore or downplay cultural heritage in national parks (Frost and Hall, 2009; Griffiths, 1996). An important exception is the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, which protects one of the main sites of the Australian Gold Rushes of the 1850s. Established in 2002, this national park is 7,500 hectares (18,000 acres) in size and is located 120 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. It was the first national park in Australia to be specifically designated as ‘heritage’. Whereas all national parks up to this time had been declared for their natural values, this was established primarily for its historical or cultural landscape. As promoted in its visitor guide, The Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is a rare place where you can still see authentic traces of the great Victorian gold rushes of the 1850s, sites and relics that harbour secrets and tell stories about how life really was on the diggings (Parks Victoria, 2004).