Domain Parklands St Kilda Road and Domain Road, Melbourne



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Criterion A - Importance to the course, or pattern of Victoria’s cultural history


  1. The parties were in broad agreement about the historical significance of the place.

    Submissions and evidence

  2. The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands has important associations with the early settlement of Melbourne and the foundation of British colonial administration in Victoria. She argued that a number of buildings on the site are illustrative of the variety of activities that took place within the parklands.

  3. Rotary submitted that Rotary Park is a significant part of the cultural history of Victoria. It was submitted that the Rotary Club of Melbourne was the first club established in Australia and progressively chartered many more clubs in Victoria and Australia. The Committee heard that Rotary has gone on to play a very significant role in supporting worthy and charitable causes in Victoria and further afield. It was argued that Rotary Park serves as a reminder to the users of the park of the role that Rotary plays in helping others.

    Discussion and conclusion

  4. The Committee finds that Criterion A is satisfied. The Committee agrees with the Executive Director that the Domain Parklands has important associations with the early settlement of Melbourne and the foundation of British colonial administration in Victoria. The Committee also agrees that a number of buildings on the site are illustrative of the variety of activities that took place within the parklands.

Criterion B - Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria’s cultural history


  1. The parties did not dispute the Executive Director’s assessment of the place against Criterion B.

    Submissions and evidence

  2. The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands feature plants from many genera which are rare or uncommon in Victoria, and are outstanding examples of their species. Ulmus is a genus of international value due to widespread loss in the northern hemisphere due to Dutch Elm Disease. The Cupressus cultivars, Schinus terebinthifolius, Grevillea hilliana, Alectryon excelsus, Syncarpia glomifera, Rapanea howittiana, Juniperus virginiana and Elaeodendron croceum are rarely grown in Victoria. The Executive Director’s representative also told the hearing that there are several examples of Eucalyptus camaldulensis within the Domain that pre-date the establishment of Melbourne.

    Discussion and conclusion

  3. The Committee finds that Criterion B is satisfied for the reasons put forward by the Executive Director.

Criterion C - Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria’s cultural history


  1. The parties did not dispute the Executive Director’s assessment of the place against Criterion C.

    Submissions and evidence

  2. The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands has the potential to contain historical archaeological deposits, features and/or objects associated with previous activities and uses. This may include archaeological material associated with such sites as the former Immigrants' Home and the Engineers' Depot.

    Discussion and conclusion

  3. The Committee finds that Criterion C is satisfied for the reasons put forward by the Executive Director.

Criterion E - Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics


  1. The parties were in broad agreement about the aesthetic significance of the place.

    Submissions and evidence

  2. The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands is of aesthetic importance for its extensive scale and collection of landscape styles and features. It was submitted that the Domain has contrasting informal and formal areas, layers of 19th and 20th century character and features such as statuary, monuments, numerous vistas and views and picturesque boulevards and avenues, including Alexandra Avenue with its innovative design. Landmark views, according to the Executive Director, include the view of the Yarra River from Alexandra Avenue, glimpses of the tower of Government House and the view of the Shrine from Swanston Street and St Kilda Road.

  3. The Executive Director also submitted that a number of buildings and structures in the Domain Parklands are of architectural note, including the Janet Lady Clarke Memorial, the Electricity Substation, the Stapely Pavilion and the Melbourne Grammar Boat House.

  4. On 8 April 2013, the Executive Director submitted further information about the Melbourne Grammar Boat House. She advised that as it has not been individually nominated for inclusion in the Register, it has not been assessed in its own right nor has comparative analysis been undertaken. Nevertheless, she submitted that it has some architectural significance for the following reasons:

  • Built in 1953, it is an example of an early commission for eminent architectural firm of Mockridge, Stahle & Mitchell, which 'demonstrated a mediation between regionalism and modernism'.1 Photographs were taken by Peter Wille after completion and are in the State Library Pictures Collection.

  • It was included in the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Guide to Victorian Architecture in 1956 - a list of the best buildings constructed in Melbourne up to that time - and was one of the few buildings listed to be illustrated with a full-page photo.2

  • It is included in the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects register of notable 20th Century Architecture (available online).

  1. For the above reasons, the Executive Director considered that the boat house has architectural significance and contributes to the significance of the Domain. According to the Executive Director, early photos show that the boat house remains extremely intact externally; however, the interior was not inspected and the Executive Director argued on this basis that internal controls could not be justified.

  2. In relation to Criterion E, Rotary submitted that Rotary Park contains some native species from von Mueller’s plantings and an eclectic mixture of other species from Australia and abroad. According to Rotary, it is a sylvan landscape of great charm and historic symbolism.

    Discussion and conclusion

  3. The Committee finds that Criterion E is satisfied in relation to the aesthetic significance of the Domain Parklands’ landscapes (including Rotary Park) and the following buildings and structures: the Janet Lady Clarke Memorial, the Electricity Substation and the Stapely Pavilion.

  4. As noted above, the Committee determines to exclude the boat houses from the extent of registration. Evaluation of the Melbourne Grammar Boat House and the other adjoining boat houses to enable the appropriate level of heritage protection to be identified is strongly supported.
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