Heloise Campbell completed her internship with the National Trust (Vic) between August and November 2017.
The objectives of my placement were to assist the National Trust to raise public awareness of cultural landscapes and encourage community involvement by creating content for a web page, writing blog posts for the Trust Advocate, and making an easily accessible format for the community to understand the Victorian Heritage Council’s ‘Landscapes of cultural heritage significance: assessment guidelines’.
I firmly believe in the value of multi-disciplinary, broad-scale conservation planning, rather than the usual site-by-site approach. As the National Trust’s role in heritage conservation uniquely spans almost the full range of heritage; including natural, cultural, historical, tangible and intangible, it was a highly desirable placement for me. I was also hoping that an internship with the National Trust would give me an understanding of the current acceptance of the cultural landscape concept in heritage practice in Victoria, and enhance my existing, but dormant, skills in cultural landscape assessment.
Before commencing my internship with the National Trust, I had already been working with them for several months as a volunteer, focusing on cultural landscapes. The National Trust is in the initial stages of resurrecting their role in the advocacy of landscapes, and in in March 2017, the Advocacy section established a Landscape Reference Group (LRG), which meets on a quarterly basis. I participated in three of these meetings during my time as a volunteer and as an intern.
As part of my volunteer work, I produced an 86 page draft report on the proposed Great Forest National Park (GFNP) in the format set out in the Guidelines for landscapes of State cultural significance. It was a demanding task to write a cultural landscape assessment of an area the size of the proposed GFNP, which will stretch from Kinglake, across the Yarra Ranges to Mt Baw Baw, and north to Lake Eildon, and will protect forests around the tourism hubs of Healesville and Warburton. There is no doubt that the Great Forest National Park, if it is ever formally recognised, would be a significant cultural landscape.
In the week before the end of my internship, the draft of my report was tabled for review at theLandscape Reference Group, and received a very favourable response. As far as I am aware, no other organisation has attempted to evaluate both the natural and cultural values of this area as a cultural landscape. It is expected that the Great Forest National Park will be a substantial and high-profile landscape advocacy project for the National Trust.
In addition to this major report, I was able to complete some other tasks for the National Trust, including:
- Histories of three different cultural landscapes: Collins Settlement, Churchill Island and Bickleigh Vale;
- A draft web page for cultural landscapes, with a summary of the landscape assessment procedure to assist community groups;
- Work on several advocacy blogs to help to establish the cultural landscape advocacy page;
- A reference document containing a thorough literature review and bibliography of reports since the 1990s, and earlier, on the Central Highlands of Victoria.
I left my internship with a sense that there are opportunities to specialise in the areas of broad-scale landscape and cultural heritage planning. I felt that I had successfully revived many of my dormant skills in the area, and gained new knowledge, skills and contacts. I was only too happy to have assisted such talented and genuinely committed people as those I encountered in the Advocacy section at the National Trust.
If Heloise’s work interests you, you can learn more about the Victorian National Trust’s Landscape Advocacy program at https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/advocacy-programs-vic/landscape-protection/.