11 November 2020 Mary Anne Scully

ACRE invites community to break-in to Old Beechworth Gaol

Country Fair and art exhibition coming to Old Beechworth Gaol in 2021

Locals and visitors will be invited to step behind the high walls of Old Beechworth Gaol in April 2021 to enjoy a Country Fair and free entry to an art exhibition that celebrates the story of the Kelly women.

ACRE CEO, Matt Pfahlert, said he was excited to share news of the two opportunities on 11 November as the date marks many important milestones.

“The eleventh day of the eleventh month is an important day for Australian society. It marks Remembrance Day, the dismissal of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and the day Ned Kelly was hanged. It also happens to be the date that the Old Beechworth Gaol was bought back by local families,” said Matt.

ACRE will host a Country Fair at the Old Gaol on Saturday 24 April 2021 to celebrate local heritage and culture and offer people the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of a rapidly transforming site.

The Fair will commemorate 140 years since the death of Ned Kelly, with film screenings and tours of the Old Gaol.

“People who come along to this family-friendly event can go on a journey through time by joining in traditional games, meeting contemporary makers, and watching demonstrations of rare trades in action, including blacksmithing, spear making, bush skills and stone masonry. Food and music is an essential part of any Country Fair, so people can also enjoy bush tucker, modern cuisine, craft beer and wine,” said Matt.

Hume Bank is sponsoring a contemporary art exhibition, Furious Riding: The Kelly Women Narratives‘ art series by Janet Goodchild Cuffley, that will open during the Fair. Thanks to this support, people from across the region can enjoy free entry to the exhibition for a full month. This collection tells the stories of the women at the centre of the Kelly saga, women whose incredible lives are as rich a part of Australian history as those of Ned Kelly and his gang. This highly significant body of work built on the late Goodchild-Cuffley’s career-long interest in telling the hitherto-unacknowledged stories of women in history.

Mr Pfahlert said ACRE was looking forward to welcoming people back to the Old Gaol after a tough 2020.

“The Old Gaol is home to a vibrant and expanding range of enterprises, including business services, tourism and creative industries. It’s amazing to see the transformation. There are now 35 tenants in the Coworking space, including Hallidays Solicitors, Indigo Power, The Big House cooking school, Gravel Mob and ACRE to name a few,” he said.

In 2016 ACRE led a $2.7 million local buyback of the​ ​Old Beechworth Gaol​ through a consortium of local investment and philanthropic support – the biggest rural community asset ownership transfer globally that year.

Over the last four years:

  • 48,000 people have joined Old Beechworth Gaol tours
  • 12,000 people have participated in community and cultural events held at the site
  • 22 new jobs have been directly created as a result of activities across the site.

“It’s been an incredible journey so far. This site is fast developing a reputation as a vibrant precinct for the social, cultural and economic benefit of our region. We have lots more exciting developments to come. We’d love people to come along on Saturday 24 April 2021 to see what’s happening behind the walls,” concluded Mr Pfahlert.