Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, the venue for the grand opening of the first Australian Parliament in 1901, has outstanding national historic value for its role in the defining event of Federation. It is the place where Commonwealth of Australia’s first Parliament was commissioned and sworn in, on 9 May 1901.

Royal Exhibition Building

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens is a tangible symbol of the country’s pride in its technological and cultural achievements in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Together with the associated gardens the Royal Exhibition Building is the most significant extant nineteenth century exhibition building in Australia.

The site, comprising the Royal Exhibition Building and its Carlton Gardens, is a purpose built assemblage. The boundary of the site is defined by the bluestone plinth of the perimeter fence constructed for the 1880-81 Melbourne International Exhibition. The Exhibition Building comprises a timber framed Great Hall, cruciform in plan, with a pair of elongated rectangular wings, a transept to the north and a truncated transept to the south, cement rendered brickwork walls, timber framed roof, soaring octagonal dome, naves, aisles, continuous galleries, towers, corner pavilions, great portal entries, fanlights and clerestory lighting.

A decorative painting scheme, the third since the building’s construction, was undertaken for the opening of the first Federal Parliament with themes and allegories to represent the building as a seat of government and legislative power. The decorative scheme was recovered and restored during renovations in the 1990s. Parts of the 1880 murals are still intact. Remains of the decorative painting scheme for the 1888 Centennial Exhibition may exist beneath subsequent paint layers.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens including the gardens’ associated ornamental features has outstanding historic values as the major extant nineteenth century international exhibition building and garden complex in Australia. The Royal Exhibition Building in its garden setting is a rare surviving example of an Australian response to the international exhibition movement.

The Royal Exhibition Building is one of the few major nineteenth century exhibition Great Halls to survive substantially intact worldwide and represents a rare example of the nineteenth century international movement’s belief in the benefits of industrialisation, the transmission of ideas and social progress and development of an extensive international economy.

Carlton Gardens is a significant example of nineteenth century classicism in an Australian public garden, featuring earlier nineteenth century ‘Gardenesque’ style elements and later more classical features. These more classical features are seen in the south garden and are references to the classical gardens of European aristocracy and royalty.

These features include the main north-south tree-lined avenue framing the southern entrance to the Exhibition Building (Grande Allee and tapis vert ), the east-west terrace, the circular garden bed surrounding a central fountain (Hochgurtel fountain), the radial pattern of tree-lined linear pathways (allees) all converging on the Hochgurtel fountain (patte d’oi), the formal garden beds created along the south facade (parterres), the eastern forecourt with circular garden beds and the French fountain, the creation of axial views with foci and the planting of trees in groups or clumps (bosquets).


Eureka Stockade Gardens

Eureka Stockade Gardens

The Eureka Stockade Gardens are significant for their association with the Eureka Stockade rebellion of 3 December 1854. The goldminers’ revolt against the goldfields administration, and particularly the loss of life (33 miners, 5 soldiers) resulting from the insurrection, is a major event in Australia’s

Castlemaine Diggings

Castlemaine Diggings

Castlemaine was one of the major gold rushes of Victoria and of Australia. In 1852 the goldfield had acquired a population of 30,000 and was by then regarded as the richest goldfield in the world. Significant mining continued for many decades, and some mining has

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

The Tyrendarra area is of outstanding heritage value because it contains the remains of a complex system of natural and artificially created wetlands, channels, the stone bases of weirs and stone fish traps that were used by Gunditj Mara people to grow and harvest eels


This document has been prepared by the Australian Government’s Department of Environment and Heritage. The help received from Australian government departments, associated organisations and other authorities is gratefully acknowledged.


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