Explorers to be removed, restored and returned

The Burke and Wills memorial will be removed from its City Square site and restored while Metro Tunnel is being built.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) gained City Square by compulsory acquisition last month and, consequently, the Burke and Wills memorial also.

The Burke and Wills Historical Society and the Royal Society of Victoria requested the memorial be relocated to the site of the Royal Society of Victoria on LaTrobe St.

However, after submissions at the February 7 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) from David Dodd from the Burke and Wills Historical Society and Mike Flattley from the Royal Society of Victoria, the council resolved to temporarily store the memorial for up to eight years before returning it to its current location.

Council arts, culture and heritage portfolio chair, Rohan Leppert, said it was important to maintain the City Square as the site of the memorial to maintain the continuity of the CBD after Metro Tunnel works had been completed.

FMC also noted that the memorial must be removed by specialist conservators and restored whilst in storage.

“The Metro Rail Authority proposal is a proposal that will dramatically change the city. Above and beyond the reasons that are set out in the report, I believe that retaining Burke and Wills on that site is quite an important symbol in maintaining the continuity that we’re going to see after the Metro Tunnel project is completed,” he said.

FMC also noted that the memorial must be removed by specialist conservators and restored whilst in storage.

Conserving the memorial will cost up to $30,000. The cost will be allocated from the council’s capital maintenance budget.

The Royal Society of Victoria accepted and somewhat commended the storage and restoration of the memorial. However, it urged the council to have the explorers face north up Swanston St upon their return. This would mean they would be facing towards their passage to the Gulf of Carpentaria – making far more sense than their current view of a Westpac bank.

Both the royal and historical societies asked the council to erect a suitable installation to acknowledge the care shown by the Yandruwandha people for John King, the expedition’s only survivor.

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