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 2024 Lecture

The 2024 Lecture will be held at the Riverlink Eastbank, 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton on Wednesday 5 June 2024 across two sessions at 1pm and 6pm.

This year the topic of the Greater Shepparton Bruce Wilson Memorial Heritage Lecture will be ‘A town talks about itself: the heritage and future of country newspapers,’ presented by Ross McPherson AM, Chairman and Editor in Chief of the McPherson group of newspapers, and prominent community figure.

If the medium is the message how will our community conversation, first forged in the days of bullock drays and hand-set lead type, remain a cohesive influence in the era of algorithm-driven messages, artificial intelligence and social media distraction?

Come and hear veteran newspaperman Ross McPherson reflect on the history and value of local newspapers to rural areas, and the future for such publications in a rapidly-changing media environment.

About Ross McPherson

Ross McPherson is rural newspaper royalty. He has printers’ ink in his veins and possibly the clatter of presses as a continuing tinnitus in his ears. He is the fourth generation of the McPhersons to lead the company, the family having conducted the Shepparton News for a remarkable 136 years: Ross’s great grandfather Colin purchased the newspaper in 1888 from the original owner, Thomas Haslem. The McPherson Media Group now owns and runs the News and eleven other local print newspapers in the Goulburn Valley, along with digital versions, and publishes several national agricultural magazines.

Ross studied law at Melbourne and London Universities and pursued mixed careers of law and journalism, practising commercial law in Melbourne before returning to the region – and the family business – in 1980 as Editor in Chief.

Ross’s community involvements have included a strong interest in education, health and river management. In the early 1990s recession, he devised the program for the Clever Food Conference, which brought Edward de Bono to Shepparton. It led to a variety of initiatives engaging local government, energy suppliers and the food industry, and to  industry-education partnerships and the Fairley Leadership program, which he chaired for its first 10 years. He was a director of SPC Ardmona for a similar period.

Ross convened Foodbowl Unlimited together with John Corboy, which brought the Foodbowl Modernisation project to the region. He chaired the Goulburn Valley Hospital Foundation for 33 years, was a founding director of the Committee for Greater Shepparton and is a charter member of Shepparton Central Rotary Club.

Ross was also a deputy chancellor of Melbourne University and a past president of the International News Media Association, which has been particularly useful in helping the family business stay abreast of new technologies. He remains a trustee of the Hecht Trust and Youthrive, the Rural Foundation and is a director of the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project.

Ross was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to print and digital media, and to the community.


To RSVP, contact Council’s Building, Planning and Compliance Department via email: (attn: Planning and Building Support) or telephone: (03) 5832 9730

Previous lectures

2022 Lecture

This lecture was ‘The contribution of architect J A K Clarke to Shepparton and district,’ delivered by Clarke researcher, heritage enthusiast, and Tallygaroopna local, Evan Lloyd.

Evan grew up in a homestead designed by Clarke, and when studying Architecture and Cultural Heritage Management at university, researched the architect Clarke and his buildings.

Watch the lecture

Audiences were invited to watch and interact with the livestream sessions via YouTube. Recordings of the 2022 Lecture can be found below. 

Have you ever heard of Shepparton architect J A K Clarke but know little about him? Ever wonder which buildings he had designed? 

John Augustus Kenny Clarke can be thought of as Shepparton’s own architect, often referred to, but little-known. Clarke designed many of Shepparton’s prominent buildings, including Ambermere, St Brendan’s Catholic Church, Hurlstone homestead, and the picturesque grandstand at the Shepparton Showgrounds. He also designed a number of graceful and substantial houses in Corio Street and elsewhere, including Nettlecoe, his own house, and Ivanhoe. Sadly, a number of Clarke’s buildings have suffered demolition.

Aside from his architectural practice, Clark was also a leading orchardist, vinegrower, and a convinced ‘irrigationist’. He was a leader in the early years of the Shepparton Agricultural Society. An affable man, he was also a cycling enthusiast.

Evan Lloyd’s interest in the architect was piqued by having grown up in a Clarke-designed building. Evan was eleven when his family moved onto Fairley Downs, a property located on the Goulburn River nine kilometres north of Shepparton at the site of the home station of the Tallygaroopna squatting run. The large Clarke-designed homestead was constructed in 1906 for successful selector Hamilton Coldwell, with some alterations carried out by the Fairley family in the 1920s.

Evan describes the property as a wonderful place to grow up, with its own small cemetery, the Goulburn River, the 1840s slab hut connected with Sherbourne Sheppard (after whom Shepparton is named) and an old Model T Ford rusting away in a billabong.

At university, Evan studied Architecture and then Cultural Heritage Management. During his studies, he researched local topics such as the now demolished Old Shire Hall in Nixon Street and the architect Clarke.

Evan returned to the property 24 years ago to manage the farm, and sees one of his roles as protecting its history for the future. He was an inaugural community representative on Council's Heritage Advisory Committee and often hosts groups visiting the property. 

Though he describes himself now as ‘simply a farmer,’ Evan has retained his interest in J A K Clarke and his work.

Evan says he is proud to have been asked to present the Bruce Wilson Memorial Lecture this year, discussing the career of an architect whose buildings remain a major aspect of Shepparton and district.

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.