WHOSE name comes to mind when you think of North East Victoria?
Chances are your reply to that question would be Ned Kelly.
The bushranger created an indelible link to the region with his behaviour which included holding up a bank at Euroa, bareknuckle fight at Beechworth and murder of police at Stringybark Creek.
But the location that is synonymous with Kelly and his outlaw gang is Glenrowan.
The old Hume Highway town earned its place in history in 1880 when the bandits bailed up townsfolk in the Glenrowan Inn and became involved in a deadly shootout with police.
Ever since that June weekend, Glenrowan has been largely defined by the legacy of the helmeted Kelly and his cronies.
But over recent decades, the tourism value of the siege story has come to the fore with a giant Ned Kelly, animated re-enactment and souvenir shops along Glenrowan’s main street.
At an official level there has also been acknowledgement of the importance of the event with the precinct linked to the siege put on the National Heritage List in 2005.
Now the Wangaratta Council has received a report, which it commissioned, outlining how the precinct can be best preserved.
It recommends minimal interference to landmarks, such as the land that hosted the burnt down inn and railway station.
But it notes a Kelly interpretative centre would be a welcome addition, although funding is a major barrier.
Tourism North East is developing a Ned Kelly Alive plan which is due to address the centre concept and Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke says it will help determine his city’s approach.
With the 140th anniversary of the siege looming in 2020 and a new Kelly movie in the pipeline, movement on an educational centre would be timely.
This is a location well known to many Riverina residents who have road tripped easily in a day or weekend to visit the memorial.
And it got us thinking – should our councils be doing more to protect memorial sites and get them heritage listed status?
There are many sites closer to home that have just as much significance as the Ned Kelly one and perhaps they should be gifted the same protection.
These sites are pieces of the region’s history and should be protected but where should that responsibility lie?