Criterion G - Strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. This includes the significance of a place to Indigenous peoples as part of their continuing and developing cultural traditions
The parties were in broad agreement about the social significance of the place.
The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands is of social significance for the highly valued recreational role it holds for Melbourne residents and visitors, as a key venue for walking, cycling, rowing, jogging along the Tan, and the setting for major outdoor events such as concerts at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Anzac Day ceremonies, the Moomba Festival and rowing regattas.
The Executive Director submitted that the Aboriginal reburial site is of social significance to Victoria’s Aboriginal communities as a commemorative site of remembrance. She submitted that the unprovenanced skeletal remains represent 38 Victorian Aboriginal tribes.
Rotary submitted that Rotary Park has special associations for all Victorian and Australian Rotarians because its aesthetic characteristics have been developed to emulate the Rotary Wheel with plaques recognising distinguished Rotary members.
The Committee notes that some of the activities and places identified by the Executive Director in her submissions relate to areas outside the place under consideration, such as the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Shrine of Remembrance. However, it is accepted that the broader Domain Parklands also contribute to the experience of attending events or commemorations held in these other areas.
The Committee finds that Criterion G is satisfied for the following reasons:
The Domain Parklands is of social significance for the highly valued recreational opportunities it provides for Melbourne residents and visitors, as a key venue for walking, cycling, jogging along the Tan and as a place of relaxation and serenity adjacent to the city.
The Aboriginal reburial site is significant to Victoria’s Aboriginal communities as a commemorative site.
The Rotary Garden is significant to members of Rotary International in Victoria and to visiting Rotarians from elsewhere in Australia or the world.
Criterion H - Special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Victoria’s history
The parties were in broad agreement about the significance of the place when assessed against Criterion H.
Submissions and evidence
The Executive Director submitted that the Domain Parklands has an association with Ferdinand von Mueller, Government Botanist (1853-96) and first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens (1857-73), who established the initial layout and planting of the Domain. The Executive Director also submitted that the Domain has an association with William Guilfoyle, Mueller's successor as Director who was responsible for the late 19th century layout and planting of the Domain and Government House to Joseph Sayce's plan.
The Executive Director submitted that the Domain has associations with Carlo Catani, Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, who was the main influence in the design of Alexandra Avenue, Alexandra Gardens and the Queen Victoria Gardens and Hugh Linaker, prolific public landscape designer in Victoria.
The Executive Director submitted that the Domain has a strong association with important figures associated with Victoria's history including a number of monarchs with memorial statues of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George IV and the first Governor General, the Marquis of Linlithgow. Other statues of important figures in Victorian history include Sir John Monash, Field Marshall Thomas Albert Blamey and Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop.
Rotary submitted that a red granite seat in Rotary Park commemorates Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, and Angus Mitchell, the first Australian to be elected president of Rotary International.
Discussion and conclusion
The Committee finds that Criterion H is satisfied for the place’s associations with von Mueller, Guilfoyle, Catani and Linaker.
Statement of Significance
The parties suggested amendments to the recommended statement of significance.
Submissions and evidence
Rotary submitted that Rotary Park warrants more explicit recognition in the description of the Domain Parklands given the historic and major role that Rotary has played in Victoria. They submitted that the relationship of the design of the Park to the Rotary Wheel should be acknowledged in the Statement of Significance.
The Executive Director proposed the following amendment to the Statement of Significance to further recognise the importance of Rotary:
Also in 1935, part of the Domain Parkland was dedicated to honour the work of Rotary International, an organisation which has played a significant role in supporting charitable causes in Victoria and elsewhere. About 45 trees have been planted to commemorate distinguished Rotarians or mark a significant Rotary event in recognition of the significant community role Rotary has made in Victoria.
The City of Melbourne noted that not all of the trees that bear Rotary plaques have been planted by Rotary. The Rotary representatives confirmed at the hearing that some trees that were already on the site have been dedicated to notable Rotarians.
The City of Melbourne submitted that there are no longer any rows or avenues of poplars in the Domain and that these references should be removed. As noted above, the City of Melbourne ultimately submitted that significant trees and plantings should be identified in the statement of significance. The City of Melbourne’s preferred approach is to list specific plants or groupings, based on an assessment of significance, as opposed to a broad brush approach to listing by species.
The City of Melbourne submitted that all of the registered buildings and structures ‘contribute to the significance of the place’, rather than all being ‘integral to the significance of the place’.
Discussion and conclusion
The Committee agrees that Rotary Park deserves greater recognition in line with the Executive Director’s suggestion and that this should include the information about the design of the park, as suggested by Rotary.
Until such time as an updated Conservation Management Plan is prepared for the Domain, the Committee recognises that it is not possible to list significant and contributory vegetation in the degree of detail that is desirable (given that the ‘extent’ does not specify particular vegetation). Descriptions of the vegetation in the draft statement of significance are inconsistent, with botanical names being used in the ‘What is significant?’ section and common names in the assessment against criteria in the ‘Why is it significant?’ section. In the amended version of the statement of significance in Attachment (2) the latter list has been converted to botanical names, in the interests of consistency.
The Committee agrees with the City of Melbourne that the registered buildings and structures ‘contribute to the significance of the place’.
The statement of significance has been amended in accordance with the Committee’s decision and is at Attachment 2 to this report.