Victoria is hoping to benefit from the World Heritage bid ©Getty Images

The regional partnership of 13 local Governments across the Australian state Victoria, has secured AUD $500,000 (£279,000/$320,000/€324,000) to shortlist potential World Heritage sites in the area to improve regional investment in the build-up to the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

With assistance from the Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive, this partnership looks to bring a successful bid for the Central Victorian Goldfields region, and to make it a World Heritage site in future.

Minister for Planning, Lizzie Blandthorn, said the Victorian Government would back the bid, with this funding coming from Regional Development Victoria's Investment Fast-Track Fund; which looks to support planning and design of projects.

It will help identify which sites meet the World Heritage criteria and where would benefit best from investment.

The Central Victorian Goldfields covers approximately 17 per cent of the state's area; with the City of Ballarat stating the World Heritage Listing and World Heritage Journeys can support the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games and the long-term plan of the area.

"We thank the State Government for recognising this opportunity presented by 13 regional local governments and for giving us their full support to take the bid forward to Canberra," said City of Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney. 

"The funding being provided will enable us to provide the case for World Heritage Listing and a roadmap for targeted public and private investment that will transform our region. 

"This is a significant step towards achieving our goal of having Australia's Central Victorian Goldfields World Heritage listed and a major win for the region."

It is expected to bring an additional 2.2 million visitors to the area over the next 10 years if the bid is successful.

The Central Victorian Goldfields are part of the region where the gold rush took place, known for its architecture, mines and ghost towns.

Victoria is scheduled to host the next edition of the Commonwealth Games from March 17 to 29 2026.