From the World Heritage inscription of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens:
The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are a surviving manifestation of the international exhibition movement which blossomed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibition building was constructed as a Great Hall, a permanent building initially intended to house the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 and the subsequent 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition. These were the largest events staged in colonial Australia and helped to introduce the world to Australian industry and technology.
The site comprises three parcels of Crown Land in the City of Melbourne, being two Crown Land Reserves for Public Recreation (Carlton Gardens) and one dedicated to the exhibition building and the recently-constructed museum (Exhibition Reserve). The inscribed property consists of a rectangular block of 26 hectares bounded by four city streets with an additional 55.26 hectares in the surrounding buffer zone.
Positioned in the Exhibition Reserve, with the Carlton Gardens to the north and the south is the Great Hall. This building is cruciform in plan and incorporates the typical architectural template of earlier exhibition buildings: namely a dome, great portal entries, viewing platforms, towers, and fanlight windows. The formal Carlton Gardens, with its tree-lined pathways, fountains, and lakes, is an integral part of the overall site design and also characteristic of exhibition buildings of this period.
Hot on the heels of the #2 most disappointing World Heritage site came #1.
I haven’t a clue why this was ever put on the list. It’s a nice old building, but there are lots of buildings like this in the world. It just doesn’t seem that special. Even Melbourne doesn’t seem to make a big deal out of it. Of all the things to see in Melbourne, this doesn’t rank high on the list and doesn’t merit much attention in tourist brochures.
I’d like to write a book some day on the politics of UNESCO. I think Australia plays the game very well and is great at writing proposals. Smaller countries just aren’t as good at playing the game and many worthy locations end up taking a back seat to richer countries.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.