Uncovered cover up

Exposed brickworks at the site of a new petrol station in Bacchus Marsh have residents questioning the location’s historical significance.

On April 22, a local resident noticed the exposed brickworks at the site, located on the corner of Gell and Bennett Streets, and snapped a photograph before the area was quickly filled in a few hours later.

The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted Moorabool Shire Council, who said they had not been notified by the property developer about the exposure.

“It is unlikely that Council will be in a position to act regarding this issue as the land does not have any heritage overlay on it and the brickworks were unknown to Council,” the statement read.

A spokesperson for the Bacchus Marsh Historical Society said it was both disappointing and concerning that noone was contacted in regards to “something of potential historical significance”.

“Whilst the society is still looking into it, the brickworks could have been a number of things. There used to be a creek that ran from the church on Gisborne Road right through to the back of Bennett street, which was once a place used by the Aboriginal inhabitants of the land,” they said.

“It may have been a piece of the old milk factory that was built in the late 1800’s and a senior resident believes there was a power station run there by a Mr Stubbings in the 1920’s and 30’s. The bricks themselves may have come from the old Darley Brick Factory. It is so hard to pinpoint as now we only have a photograph. The developer should have done right by the community by stopping construction to investigate”.

Project manager from Case Meallin Associates, representing Abacus Property Solutions (Bacchus Marsh Village Shopping Centre), Lee Gomersall said the discovery wasn’t reported, as the site managers believed they weren’t required to do so.

“Obstructions are often encountered at worksites and they are always dealt with accordingly. This part of the site does not have any heritage overlay on it and we were not required to create a heritage management plan, which is something that is stated within our planning permit,” he said.

“I suspect the brickwork was an old storm water drain. When we have an obstruction in the ground and are required to act in a certain way we do so accordingly, but the rationale behind the approach that was taken at this site is that we were aware that the site did not have any heritage overlay”.

Heritage Council of Victoria spokesperson, Pauline Hitchins said it was very difficult when a site wasn’t formally identified as being of historical significance.

“The safest course of action, when a relic is uncovered, is to contact Heritage Victoria to ascertain whether a consent is required to pursue further works,” she said.

In the Victorian Heritage Act (1995), section 132 states that when an archaeological relic is discovered in the course of any construction or excavation, the discovery must be reported as soon as possible. Body corporates may face penalties of more than $35,000.

Ms Hitchins said Heritage Victoria hadn’t received any specific information on the brickworks to date, but would investigate further if the artefact appeared to have been disturbed.

“If it was just re-covered there is no problem”.

First appeared in The Moorabool News, May 24 2016.

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