The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

The Royal Exhibition Building (REB) and Carlton Gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 1 July 2004. It was the first built heritage site in Australia to be declared World Heritage.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are included in the World Heritage List because they are the only remaining example of a Palace of Industry from a nineteenth-century world fair on its original site. The site is even more significant because it’s still being used for exhibitions.

The site is also included in the National Heritage List and the Victorian Heritage Register.

History of the Royal Exhibition Building.

For details of site tours, events and, major project updates go to Museums Victoria World Heritage.

June 2020: Consultation on the review of the World Heritage Management Plan for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens is underway, further information is provided further down the page.

Budj Bim 

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape located in the traditional Country of the Gunditimara Aboriginal people in south-eastern Australia, was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2019. It is the second site in Victoria to receive world heritage listing. Contact Aboriginal Victoria for further information on Budj Bim's world heritage listing.

Protecting the site

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are protected under the Heritage Act 2017 through:

  • Royal Exhibition and Carlton Gardens World Heritage Management Plan 2013
  • The World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan

Image of the interior of Melbourne Royal Exhibition Centre

Image of the exterior of Melbourne Royal Exhibtion Centre at Carlton Gardens. The image showcases a water fountain in the gardens of the site.

World Heritage Area Management Plan

Under the Heritage Act 2017 (the Act) a World Heritage Management Plan is created for World Heritage listed places. A Steering Committee appointed by the Minister for Planning prepares, implements and reviews the plan. The Steering Committee continues to meet regularly.

The plan

World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan

Under the Heritage Act 1995, a World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan (Strategy Plan) is required for the area surrounding the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens:

  • The World Heritage Environs Area acts as a buffer zone for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and helps protect and transmit the World Heritage values of the site.
  • The Strategy Plan explains the strategies we’ll use to protect the World Heritage values.

18 November 2009: planning scheme amendments to implement the recommendations of the Strategy Plan in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes were gazetted.
Summary of amendments:

Amendment C154 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme:

  • introduces a new Local Heritage Policy into the planning scheme, which contains specific guidance for the development of land immediately surrounding the World Heritage Site;
  • includes the World Heritage Environs Area Precinct in the Heritage Overlay;
    amends the Design and Development Overlays applying to properties on the north side of Queensberry Street and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons site on Spring Street; and
  • makes consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statement and other Local Policies within the planning scheme.

Amendment C118 to the Yarra Planning Scheme:

  • introduces a new Local Heritage Policy into the planning scheme, which contains specific guidance for the development of land immediately surrounding the World Heritage Site;
  • includes the World Heritage Environs Area Precinct in the Heritage Overlay;
    introduces a Design and Development Overlay over properties on the north side of Gertrude Street; and
  • makes consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statement and other Local Policies within the planning scheme.

View amendments at Planning Schemes Online.

World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan (PDF, 2.0 MB)
Appendix 1 (PDF, 22.0 KB)
Appendix 2 (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Note: the Strategy Plan is a large document. If you have difficulty downloading it contact (03) 8644 8800 or heritage.victoria@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Strategy Plan summary:

  • Include the properties fronting the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in a new precinct-based Heritage Overlay in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes. Properties fronting the western part of Gertrude Street and the eastern part of Queensberry Street are also to be included in this precinct. Land in this precinct is considered to be the area of greatest sensitivity.
  • Introduce a new local Heritage Policy in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes to provide specific guidance for development of land within the area of greatest sensitivity.
  • Include properties on the northern side of Gertrude and Queensberry streets and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building within a Design and Development Overlay to protect views to the Royal Exhibition Building dome.
  • Consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statements and the Local Planning Policies of the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes.

5 November 2009 - the Strategy Plan was gazetted in the Government Gazette and came into operation.

21 October 2009 - after an extensive public consultation and hearing process, the Minister for Planning approved a Strategy Plan for the World Heritage Environs Area.

Review of the World Heritage Management Plan (WHMP) - June 2020

The review of the World Heritage Management Plan (WHMP) for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens (REB&CG) (‘the review’) is underway.

The review is being undertaken by the Steering Committee for the REB&CG (‘the Steering Committee’), and is being coordinated by Heritage Victoria within the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP); the City of Melbourne and Museums Victoria; with input from the City of Yarra and the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).

The review is required by, and is being undertaken in accordance with, Part 9 of the Heritage Act 2017. There will be several opportunities for you to participate in this review process throughout 2020 and 2021.

Opportunities to participate

The first stage of community consultation is now closed. Please visit the Engage Victoria website for the latest review updates and to read the review Discussion Paper and Frequently Asked Questions.

The current World Heritage Management Plan for the RECB&CG was approved by the Minister for Planning in 2013, and includes the following component documents as attachments:

  • Attachment A: Conservation Management Plan (to be renamed the “Heritage Management Plan” following the current review process);
  • Attachment B: Carlton Gardens Master Plan;
  • Attachment C: Royal Exhibition Building and Exhibition Reserve Master Plan; and
  • Attachment D: World Heritage Strategy Plan for the World Heritage Environs Area

Each of the above component documents will be individually reviewed as part of this review process, and you will have the opportunity to comment on the reviewed draft of each document. Please visit the Engage Victoria website for the latest updates and to read the Discussion Paper and Frequently Asked Questions, which provide detailed information relating to each stage of the review process.

It is expected that the draft of the reviewed World Heritage Management Plan document will be available for public comment in late 2021, once the review of all component documents listed above is complete. Sections 184-186 of the Heritage Act 2017 set out the process by which people may make submissions to the Steering Committee in response to the draft of the reviewed World Heritage Management Plan.

For more information, please visit the Engage Victoria website and read the review Discussion Paper and Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any queries about how you may participate in any stage of this review, please contact Heritage Victoria by emailing heritage.policy@delwp.vic.gov.au or calling 03 7022 6390.

Page last updated: 29/10/20