Greater Shepparton Biennial Bruce Wilson Memorial Heritage Lecture

The Greater Shepparton Heritage Advisory Committee organises the biennial heritage lecture series to promote an understanding of cultural heritage and conservation, as well as pride and interest in the many facets of cultural heritage significance in Greater Shepparton.

About the lecture series

The 2021 Lecture was held at the Senior Citizens’ Centre, 120-132 Welsford Street, Shepparton on Wednesday, 18 August 2021.

The 2021 Lecture marked the third in Council’s biennial heritage lecture series, named in honour of Bruce Wilson, former Mayor, long-time Councillor, history and heritage enthusiast, and inaugural Chair of Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee (the organising body for this Lecture). The Lectures usually alternate with the very successful biennial Cultural Heritage Awards, another of Council’s innovative heritage initiatives, although due to the pandemic, the 2020 Awards were postponed until August 2021. 

Previous lectures

2021 Lecture

This lecture was delivered by Ms Chris Johnson on Navigating heritage: past, present and future via Zoom to an audience present in the Senior Citizens’ Centre and livestreamed via YouTube. Chris has been one of the nation’s leading heritage figures for decades, at the forefront of heritage discussion and practice, with a long, extremely productive and influential career.

In her Lecture, Chris outlined how heritage places offer us ways to connect to the past, the importance of concepts such as attachment to a place, and differing ideas of heritage value. She looked at (human-created) heritage landscapes, and intangible heritage such as customs, traditions and practices, as she looks towards the future of heritage.

Watch the Lecture

Audiences were invited to watch and interact with the livestream sessions via Zoom or YouTube. Recordings of the 2021 Lecture can be found below. 

Session 1: 1pm on 18 August 2021Watch on YouTube
Session 2: 6pm on 18 August 2021Watch on YouTube

About Chris Johnston

Chris Johnston is one of the stars of the heritage world in Australia. She has been one of the nation’s leading heritage figures for decades, at the forefront of heritage discussion and practice, with a long, extremely productive and influential career.

Chris founded Context, Victoria’s foremost heritage consultancy, in 1988, building its national reputation for community-connected projects over nearly 30 years. Chris is now an independent heritage specialist.

Her expertise has been widely recognised. Among countless heritage studies, assessments and management plans, her company has been entrusted to produce reports of both national and state importance, for example the Heritage Strategy for Victoria, Victoria’s Framework of Historical Themes, management plans for Port Arthur in Tasmania and she has managed consultations for the Australian War Memorial.

However Chris’s heritage work has been wide-ranging: from the City of Melbourne Heritage Strategy to the social values assessment of La Perouse at Botany Bay; from the Aboriginal heritage of both the Atherton Gardens high-rise in Fitzroy and the Australian Alps to Ballarat’s Historic Urban Landscape; from the Lake Boort Management Plan to that of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra; from the aesthetic values of Broken Hill to those of the Barrier Reef.

Chris undertook many heritage studies across regional Victoria, including those of the City of Sale, Latrobe Valley, Stonnington, Yarra Ranges, Brunswick, Wyndham, East Gippsland and others, working with local councils.

It was Chris’ work that led the heritage world in Australia to accept the heritage value of buildings and places beloved and valued by local communities, not just those that were seen as historic or of architectural interest. Social value – the special importance of places to communities – is now a prominent aspect of heritage evaluation, and her paper, ‘What is Social Value?’ has become a standard reference.

If ‘social value’ had been an accepted measure of heritage significance in the 1970s, the treasured Shepparton Post Office may still be standing tall in Wyndham Street!

As a heritage consultant, Chris has worked with many communities across Australia, helping document and advocate for the places they value.

Some of her recent projects have involved Aboriginal heritage. Most recently she managed a project that developed the Budj Bim World Heritage Nomination Dossier, which led to the wonderful eel aquaculture systems at Tae Rak (Lake Condah) being recently placed on the World Heritage List, one of only twenty Australian places.

Chris is an Honorary Research Associate at La Trobe University. She is also a member of the International Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage, a sub-committee of the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the principal non-governmental world heritage body.

Chris was part of the Burra Charter Working Group that in 1999 and 2013 revised the Burra Charter 1999, the document which defines the basic principles and procedures to be followed in the conservation of Australian heritage places. The Burra Charter is respected and used as a reference throughout the world.

Over many years Chris has run training courses for local government planners; she has also taught at La Trobe University, and developed heritage-related curriculum for Deakin University. She has written many journal articles and book chapters.

2018 Lecture

This lecture was delivered by Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison AO, Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor (Monash University) and entitled ‘The Past Around Us: How Victoria Saved Its Heritage’.

Professor Davison, who was involved in heritage from the beginning, spent considerable time and effort researching our local area’s history and heritage and thus his lecture was pitched well to the audience of over 70 people in the afternoon and 40 in the evening.

2016 Lecture

The inaugural Bruce Wilson Memorial Heritage Lecture, Council’s first formal presentation on the topic of heritage, was presented by Ms Louise Honman, a distinguished heritage architect, consultant and advisor of long-standing, and member of the Heritage Council of Victoria. Ms Honman’s Lecture, ‘Jewels in the Crown, Places of the Heart’ focused on old and new approaches to heritage practice in local communities.


For more information, contact the Building Planning and Compliance Department by email or by phone (03) 5832 9700.