Clunes joins the world stage as Australia's first International Booktown
Date: 20 April 2012
The central Victorian township of Clunes has been declared Australia's first International Booktown - the first such appointment in the southern hemisphere.
Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu today announced the declaration by the International Organisation of Booktowns, which puts Clunes on the world stage alongside the famous European booktowns of Hay-on-Wye in Wales and Wigtown in Scotland.
"This gives Victoria an exciting new tourism drawcard and is expected to provide a significant cultural and economic boost for the region," Mr Baillieu said.
Mr Baillieu congratulated local volunteers, who initiated Clunes' transformation into a booktown and who run the popular annual Back to Booktown festival, for their vision and dedication that has now been internationally recognised.
"For some six years the 'Creative Clunes' committee has worked to transform the township in to a booktown using the existing heritage streetscape of the old gold town to create a unique Australian experience," Mr Baillieu said.
"It's a great effort and a tribute to the town, to the partnership approach it has adopted with State and Local Government, and to its efforts to build a sustainable future based on words, books and ideas."
The first booktown event was staged in Clunes in 2007. Held over the first weekend in May each year, it now attracts around 15,000 people to the township to browse through thousands of second hand and collectable books.
"Clunes now boasts seven bookshops, three online booksellers, six stores with books as part of their stock mix and there are four bookshops in neighbouring towns."
Mr Baillieu said Clunes had been selected as an exemplary model of sustainable rural tourism and development centred around the second hand and antiquarian book trade.
"This international honour for Clunes is a wonderful complement to Melbourne's designation as a UNESCO City of Literature," Mr Baillieu said.
Mr Baillieu said the recent reopening of the Clunes Railway Station, and the inclusion of the town as a key rural hub in the Victorian Government's $9.4 million Advancing Country Towns program, would provide further support to the town's resurgence.
"We want to bring local knowledge and government resources together to help our country towns face the challenges of the future, and this International Booktown status gives Clunes a great start," Mr Baillieu said.
"We have already seen the impact of the annual Back to Booktown festival which has stimulated tourism and economic growth in the area, and we look forward to an even brighter future for this old gold town."
Clunes will host its next Back to Booktown festival on the weekend of 5-6 May 2012.