Celebrating the Tradies Behind Heritage Conservation

Heritage Trades Fair 7-9 September

Celebrating the Tradies Behind Heritage Conservation

GA2023 delegates and the general community can celebrate the enduring legacy of traditional trades and discover the captivating stories behind the construction and conservation of Australia’s culturally significant sites at the Heritage Trades Fair.

Engage with skilled tradespeople as they demonstrate their artistry and delve into the traditional techniques that help safeguard the nation’s cultural heritage.

Here’s what to expect:

Live demonstrations: Skilled tradespeople, including stonemasons, plasterers, carpenters, and roofers, will provide live demonstrations of their extraordinary craftsmanship, from carving skills to mortar mixing, wall pointing to roof leadwork.

Drystone wall construction: Witness a masonry jigsaw puzzle come to life as an expert artisan showcases unique construction skills in building a drystone wall.

Rediscover traditional crafts: Our artisans will take you back in time with demonstrations in carpentry, blacksmithing, and other traditional skills passed down through generations.

Held in conjunction with the Heritage Exposition, the Heritage Trades Fair will be held  Thursday 7 September – Saturday 9 September, just outside the International Convention Centre Sydney. Click here to learn more.


Continuity of Craft: Elizabeth Forbes, Master Artisan and Keeper of Traditional Techniques

Meet Elizabeth Forbes, a passionate advocate for preserving traditional craftsmanship, who honed her skills in rushing and caning chairs at the prestigious West Dean College in Sussex during the 1980s before relocating to Australia and making Bathurst home.

Her dedication to the craft is evident through her active involvement in the Bathurst Heritage Trades Trail since its inception in 2017, and she is eagerly participating in the Heritage Trades Fair at GA2023.

Elizabeth firmly believes that the heritage of once-thriving trades, such as rushing and caning chairs, now reduced to cottage industries, should not be lost. In a world dominated by mass-produced furniture lacking durability, Elizabeth’s mission at events like the Heritage Trades Fair is to keep these invaluable skills alive and cherished for generations to come

Heritage Trades Fair

  • Dates: Thursday 7 September – Saturday 9 September 2023
  • Time: 8.30am – 5.00pm daily
  • Location: International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), forecourt
  • Audience: Open to the public
  • Cost: Free

The Heritage Trades Fair is to be held in conjunction with the Heritage Exposition and will promote traditional heritage trades and showcase trade skills rarely seen today, but essential to the repair of heritage buildings.

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Skilled tradespeople, including stonemasons, plasterers, carpenters and roofers will provide live demonstrations of their trade skills and be available to answer questions regarding the conservation of buildings. Carving skills, mortar mixing, wall pointing and roof leadwork will be demonstrated.

A focus of the Fair will be the construction of a drystone wall, a masonry jigsaw puzzle requiring unique construction skills.

Artisans will be available at the end of the week to demonstrate skills in carpentry, blacksmithing and other craft and traditional skills from earlier times.

Conservators will also be demonstrating the specialist techniques used in the repair and care of precious artefacts and objects.

Come and learn about caring for our precious heritage places and objects!

Heritage Lecture at Sydney Town Hall

  • Date: Monday 4 September 2023
  • Time: 6-8pm
  • Location: Town Hall
  • Theme: Living heritage – sites, objects, language, plants and sky
  • Audience: Open to the public
  • Cost: Free

Join us for a free public event that positions Australian Aboriginal heritage in a global context and learn more about the scope and interconnectedness of living cultural heritage in the southeast region of Australia.

Strategic Partners
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The southeast region of Aboriginal Australia encompasses New South Wales, Victoria, and the lower parts of South Australia. Long ancestral connections, and subsequent waves of colonisation and resistance bind communities in this region together. It is within this region that some of the world’s most significant sites exist, including what’s understood to be the oldest ceremonial burial, human-made structure, and astronomical observatory—a testament to the endurance of the world’s oldest living culture.

While the southeast region is home to a significant portion of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, it is often overlooked in terms of Aboriginal heritage and culture. Policies, procedures, and acts have at times hindered engagement with and maintenance of cultural activities. In response, communities within the region have developed unique methodologies that preserve ancestral knowledge while revitalising old connections.

Led by Jonathan Jones, a renowned Wiradyuri/Kamilaroi artist and researcher, this talk seeks to draw out living cultural knowledges and explore how southeast communities today are preserving and cherishing knowledge in the face of a highly colonised space.

Image: The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is the first site in Australia to be inscribed on the World Heritage List exclusively for its testament to Indigenous cultural heritage. Photo: Tyson Lovett-Murray


Led by Jonathan Jones, a renowned Wiradyuri/Kamilaroi artist and researcher, this talk seeks to draw out living cultural knowledges and explore how southeast communities today are preserving and cherishing knowledge in the face of a highly colonised space.

Stay tuned for updates on further speakers who will join us for this insightful event.

Jonathan Jones

Host: Jonathan Jones is a Wiradyuri/Kamilaroi artist and researcher. Jones is a researcher at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney.

Juanita Kelly-Mundine

Juanita Kelly-Mundine is a West Bundjalung woman engaged in cultural heritage conservation and protection of cultural property. Juanita is the First Nations Art Conservator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Erin Rose

Erin Rose is Gunditjmara from South West Victoria and is a delegate of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape World Heritage Area, one of the world’s oldest Aquaculture systems. Erin is the Budj Bim World Heritage Executive Officer at Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Cooperation overseeing the management and protection of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape and its values.

Krystal De Napoli

Krystal De Napoli is a Gomeroi award-winning author, astrophysicist and science communicator devoted to the advocacy of Indigenous knowledges and equity in STEM. Krystal is co-author of Astronomy: Sky Country (2022), winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award People’s Choice Award (2023).

Zena Cumpston

Zena Cumpston is a Barkandji woman who works as a writer, researcher, artist and storyteller. Zena was a co-author of the 2021 State of the Environment Report, working across several chapters and recently co-authored the book 'Plants: past, present and future' as part of the First Knowledges series. She is particularly passionate about plants and the many ways they illuminate the ingenuity and scientific knowledge of her people.

Nathan Brennan

Nathan Brennan is a Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Gamilaraay man. He is passionate about Aboriginal language revitalisation and teaching, Aboriginal led land and sea country management and threatened species management. He is part of the Ngiyambandigay Wajaarr Aboriginal Corporation, which has been developed to create opportunities for a holistic approach for Gumbaynggirr people to reacquire our land for the continuation of cultural practice, conservation, healing and social and economic development.