Goulburn's performing arts centre takes a twist

Excavation work in early June turned up stone remains of the old Goulburn Jail. Photo: David Cole.
Excavation work in early June turned up stone remains of the old Goulburn Jail. Photo: David Cole.

The discovery of old stone remains behind the city’s planned performing arts venue is not greatly holding up work.

Work behind the McDermott Centre temporarily stalled after remnants of the old Goulburn jail were during excavations to relocate a sewer line.

Archaeologist Wendy Thorpe prepared a report for the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), as required by consent conditions. The Goulburn Post has seen this report.

Council general manager Warwick Bennett said his staff had since applied for a new permit from OEH, given the find.

“OEH has given us in principle support to proceed but we now have to get the permit more exact because we’re going to excavate the whole of the back area to see how large it is,” Mr Bennett said.

“They have stated clearly that the stones are not of enormous state significance and that we can proceed. We’re feeling quite relaxed about that but we want to get all the stones up so we can preserve them. I think it adds some quite exciting historical significance to Goulburn.”

The aim is to extract and save the material and then work with architects, Brewster Hjorth on how the stone be incorporated into the new building. The OEH had not required this but Mr Bennett said it was something they wanted to do as a council.

No sign of bushranger Thomas Whitton’s remains have arisen during excavations. Earlier research indicated that the former jail inmate’s grave could be in the vicinity. He was hung at the facility in March, 1840.

The excavations are expected to be finished in the next month. Mr Bennett said tenders for construction of the $12.1 million project would be called within the next three to four weeks.

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